Living Sustainably

DIY & Buying Green

You'll find a range of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects for the various rooms in your house or apartment. Learn how to make your own natural products, detect problems leading to wasteful water use and how to perform easy fixes around your home. If the problem(s) becomes too complicated, contact management right away to keep your home running efficiently.

Scroll down to 'Buying Green' to see how your consumption and purchasing choices can affect the environment.

Bathroom

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  • Installing low flow faucet aerators
    • Aerators mix air and water to conserve water and fill pots and glasses faster.  Find out if the sinks in your home have aerators or ask maintenance staff.
      • DIY:  Install a faucet aerator following these directions.
      • DIY:  Clean your faucet aerators to maintain fast water flow and reduce water consumption.
  • Detecting faucet leaks
    • Taking care of faucet leaks can save water and lower your water bill.  Check out this video to determine if your faucet may need parts replaced. 
    •  DIY:  Refer to these step-by-step instructions to identify leaks in more detail. If you are unable to fix it yourself, call maintenance as soon as you find leaks to prevent wasting more water.
  • Leaky Toilet
    • If your toilet keeps running, there may be a problem with the float or inlet valve. Toilet leaks can waste thousands of gallons per month, so it’s important to fix immediately!
      • DIY:  Find out the cause for the leak and determine what needs to be fixed be following these steps.  This will most likely require help from maintenance staff, but let them know the problem before they arrive and get the leak fixed quicker. 
  • Low-flow Showerhead
Kitchen

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  • Installing low flow faucet aerators
    • Refer to Bathroom ‘Installing faucet aerators’
  • Detecting faucet leaks
  • Composting
    • Composting your food scraps in a compost bin will reduce the amount of waste you produce at home and reduce the amount of trash that is trucked to our nearest landfill, that’s 60 miles away (near Terre Haute). Get longer use out of your trash bags and fertilize your plants or personal gardens with the compost material.
      • Plastic compost pails
        • These are cheaper and you can find smaller, convenient pails that make it easier to use inside a small kitchen. You can even find ones that are dishwasher-safe.
      • Stainless steel, Ceramic or Bamboo compost pails
        • These are a bit pricier, but will be more durable.
      • Charcoal filters
        • If you are struggling to keep odors out from your composting bins/pails inside the home, use charcoal filters.  These can last up to six months, depending how often the bin/pail is emptied.
      • DIY: Assemble your own compost bin if you have a yard or you get approval from management to do so.  Here is an example of a homemade compost tumbler that took, roughly, an hour.
All Around/Other

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  • Bicycle Maintenance
    • Save yourself a trip to a repair shop and fix your bicycle on your own.  Bicycle Tutor comes with a Repair Guide and 50+ video tutorials to help you keep your bicycle in top condition.
  • Cleaning Products 
    • You can make daily cleaning products from items around your home instead of purchasing them from the store.  These create-your-own cleaning products are eco-friendly, avoid the use of chemicals and are inexpensive. 
      • DIY:  For recipes of how to make laundry detergents, all-purpose cleaners, carpet deodorizers and more, follow this link.
  • Personal Gardens
    • DIY:  Try “vertical gardening” to save space and still grow the herbs, vegetables and plants you want.  Vertical gardens allow plants to grow upwards without taking up ground space.  This can be an indoor project that improves the air quality of your home by adding oxygen to the air and adding oxygen to the air.  For more specific indoor vertical gardening directions and tips, refer to this link.  If you have outdoor space to have an outdoor vertical garden, refer to this link.
  • Recycling 
    • Make your own recycling center to collect recyclables before you drop them off. 
      • Specialized folding recycling bags:  Comes in a color-coded set of three that separates paper, glass and cans.  Find one example here.
      • Other recycling bags:
        • Plastic/Paper Grocery Bags:  Reuse the bags you get from buying groceries to bag your recyclables, and then recycle them.
        • Recycling/Compostable Bags:  If you use reusable bags when shopping, you can carry your recyclables in recycling and compostable bags that can be found in most stores.
        • T-shirt Tote Bags:  Use your old, unwanted t-shirts to carry recyclables or even groceries.  Follow these steps to recycle your t-shirts into tote bags.
        • Storage Bins:  Use two or three storage bins that can carry more recyclables and minimize your trips to the recycling center.  Refer to this site for an assortment of container types.
Buying Green

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Your purchasing behavior plays an important part in reducing your carbon footprint. As consumers, we can reduce our consumption and use what we purchase to tell companies what is important to us. Every purchasing decision you make has an impact on what kind of resources are used, at what quantities they are extracted and how they are utilized to serve consumer demand. Thus, by choosing products with minimal or biodegradable packaging, responsible production and transportation practices can influence the products provided to reflect sustainable values. We are all indicators for how companies can create the products we want while keeping sustainability in mind.

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One way to determine what kind of household products to buy is to consider the individual company’s efforts in addressing climate change and increasing the sustainability of their goods and services.

‘Climate Counts’ assigns “Climate Scores” for companies based on their efforts to measure their climate footprint, reduce their impact on global warming, support of progressive climate legislation and public disclosure of their climate actions.[1] The higher their score, the better they are doing, on a scale of 0-100.

Take a look at some of the top producers of household products, for example, and their score. You can purchase products produced by the companies with the highest scores and influence other companies to take similar green initiatives.

For “Climate Scores” on Apparel/Accessories, Food Services, Technology and more.

You can also get the free app on your iPhone to look up scores wherever you are.

TIPS:

Buy the amount you need: Buying the appropriate amount of what you need is a way to reduce waste. You can still buy in bulk for those items that you will inevitably need and aren’t perishable, to save money and packaging. But consider whether or not what you are buying is useful and how much you will realistically need. For example, buying produce in smaller amounts makes it easier to use the entirety of your purchase and maintain freshness, too.

Minimal packaging: Some products need to be wrapped up for protection and ease in transportation. To avoid excessive packaging, avoid ordering products online that may require extensive packaging. You can order online and pick it up in a nearby store when you’re already out running errands.

If you’re at the store, select the product you want, with the quality desired and packaging that can be easily recycled or repurposed. Old boxes can be used to mail packages, serve as storage containers and help move your belongings. Or better yet, look for packaging that was derived from recycled material, is compostable or biodegradable and minimally packaged.

Shop secondhand:  Stop by any of the secondhand stores in Bloomington, before venturing off to buy a new product.  Consider how long you would use the product and the quality that is needed to serve its main purpose to you. 

Shop and donate goods to ‘Hoosier to Hoosier’ at the beginning of every school year.  This project helps students stay in their budget by selling used or gently used items donated from individuals in the community.

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Locally grown & produced:  Purchase locally grown and produced food to reduce transportation, support local growers and reduce packaging. 

Think long-term, not short-term:  Quality products last longer and often run more efficiently.  Research the durability and time warranty of your product to select the one that will last the time needed.  You may have to splurge a bit in the beginning to get the product, but this will save time and effort later that would have been spent on finding a replacement. 

Reusable Bags:  Shop with reusable bags to save plastic or paper waste and get a discount in select stores.

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Free Cycle Room:  Ask your property manager to start a Free Cycle Room.  This means you can drop off every day items you no longer use for another tenant that may find it useful.  Instead of buying, you could find what you need through this sustainable exchange.