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Be an environ-RENTAL-ist – how to practise green renting!

for rent

We are living through the biggest property boom Australia has ever seen, and the cost of buying a house is unreachable for many. But renting doesn’t mean you have to stop being green! You may feel as if you have no control over certain things in your rental property, like water tanks, solar panels and space for gardening, but here are some things you can do to green up your rented home.

    1. Location – consider the location of your rental. Will it be near your work – does this mean you can potentially bike, walk or use public transport to get there? Being closer to places you frequent will obviously cut down on the amount of driving you have to do.  Also keep in mind where you do your shopping — is there somewhere close by that you can walk to? Are there bus routes that might work?
    2. Size – is your home too large? The size of your home will also add to how much you spend on heating and cooling, both money-wise and in terms of carbon emissions.  Try to find a rental property that fits your family’s needs, not necessarily wants! If you need help being convinced of this, just think: more rooms = more cleaning. Extra space might seem nice, but that could mean a rise in the time you spend vacuuming and dusting.
    3. Energy Offsets. Nowadays it is pretty normal to go into a rental and have to connect your own gas, electricity, phone line and internet provider. When selecting your suppliers, remember to choose ones that offer green options. For electricity, it’s easy to switch to a government-accredited Green Power option
    4. Weather Proofing – no more drafts! When moving into a new home it is always best to check for drafts or areas where the property will need a bit of weatherproofing. If you find there are drafty doorways, consider speaking to the landlord or real estate agent about the possibility of repairs. If not then you should grab some draft snakes such as this one by Julielion or make your own!
    5. Insulation. Check there is insulation in the ceiling before moving in. This will help  keep the indoor temperature in your house stable through changing seasons, reducing the need to spend money on heaters and air conditioners. If there is none, you should speak to the landlord about having some installed.
    6. Being smart with heating and cooling. In some older rental places you may not have high star rated heating and cooling systems. In some cases, you may not have any! Make sure you dress appropriately for the weather in your home. In winter, bundle up in warm jumpers and socks. In summer, close your blinds or draw the curtains early in the morning so warm air doesn’t enter your house. Simple things like this will make your rental property much greener. Check out our 5 weird tips to reduce your winter energy bill for more ideas.
    7. Water saving devices. If your property only has older shower heads, consider replacing them with water-saving shower heads. These are simple to install, and when you leave you can pop the old one back on and take it with you to your new house. Make sure none of the taps leak, and repair or replace any drippy offenders. If your toilet is an older single-flush model, you can place a full milk or juice bottle in the cistern to reduce the volume of water it uses for a flush.
    8. Bathroom water saving. Take shorter showers — under 4 minutes. Limit time spent in the shower to soap up, wash down, and rinse off. Shorter showers save on energy costs associated with heating water. Shave your legs before you hop in the shower and then rinse off once you’re in. If possible, lower the default temperature on your water heater to the level of heat at which you take your showers. This saves energy, plus you’ll spend less time fiddling around with taps while the water runs.
    9. Recycling . Make sure you use your recycling bins. If there are no recycling options in your building, consider checking if any of your neighbours would mind if you used their bin. Be sure to ask first — there is nothing worse than being caught red-handed trying to stuff your household waste into someone else’s bin!
    10. green renting

    11. Container gardening. If your’re renting an apartment or a property with no garden, make use of a container garden. You might not be able to produce a massive crop of potatoes, but herbs, flowers and small veggies like tomatoes are easy to grow in small spaces. There are many tutorials and DIY ideas out there for container gardens, and vertical gardening is really having a moment right now. Here are some good resources to check out:
      Better Homes and Gardens – Container Gardens

      My Green Australia Gardening Tips – Recycled coffee pod planters
      VERTICAL VEGETABLES: “Grow up” in a small garden and confound the cats!
      Milk Crate “Air-Pot” Urban Container Gardening
      Urban Organic Gardener
    12. Lighting. When you first move in, it’s best to replace any older incandescent bulbs with newer energy-saving models. These are much better environmentally and also have a far longer lifespan. Make sure to switch off the light in rooms you’re not using.
    13. Reusing water. If you are not able to have a grey water system in your rental property, there are still a few things you can do. Keep a bucket in the shower that you can empty onto your garden. If you’re rinsing vegetables or fruits, keep a bucket in the sink and then empty this onto the plants.
    14. The three R’s – Make sure you continue to buy products in packaging that is recyclable, or made from recycled materials. Choose products that are reusable instead of disposable, and try to reduce the amount of stuff you buy in the first place!

green renting

Here are some great tutorials from on simple home DIY. Make sure you speak to your landlord before doing any of these!

What are your ideas for renters who are trying to be green and environmentally friendly?

mga logo

Thanks to My Green Australia for this post!

Photo credit
For rent – ABC
Potted herbs – Maggie Hoffman (CC)
Recycling – Steven Leith (CC)
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Sustainable Dating: green romance for eco-conscious lovebirds

sustainable dating

How do you combine sustainability with dating? Daile Kelleher isn’t going to suggest recycling lovers (it’s always a terrible idea), and she hasn’t quite figured out how to upcycle  past partners for future use. But she does have some sustainable dating ideas – being green has never been more romantic. Visit her blog at The Confused But Conscious Customer.

sustainable dating


Perfect for lovebirds with a sense of adventure and a fondness for the great outdoors. Set aside a day with your date, wear comfortable shoes, download the Geocache app on your GPS-enabled smartphone and you have yourself a romantic treasure hunt.

What’s the deal?

A geocache is a container of varied size that has been hidden in a specific location and tagged with GPS coordinates, ready to be discovered in an online-enabled scavenger hunt. Once you reach the marked area and find the specially marked geocache you can sign the logbook, celebrate your discovery via social media and take a memento from the container, as well as leaving one in its place to mark your achievement. No need for vehicles or cash money – you couldn’t ask for a more eco and pocket friendly date.

Why is this a great date idea?

With few outside distractions you’ll have an opportunity to connect with your date, and geocache hunting is a great chance to talk. This type of activity is also reminiscent of childhood – treasure hunting, orienteering at school camps or your summer with the local scout troop – which can lead to intimate conversations laced with nostalgia. This grown-up Easter Egg expedition has to involve teamwork, so when you find the geocache you’ve achieved something together. Awww!

sustainable date ideas

Fish & chips at the beach

Every beach has a local takeaway where you can get a serve of chunky chips, battered sav, potato scallop and a piece of crumbed fish to enjoy while watching the waves. While some areas may have slightly more upmarket versions of the humble fish and chipper, there is nothing better than an oil soaked paper wrapped parcel shared with someone cute.

What’s the deal?

If you live near the beach, walking or catching public transport means you cut down on emissions. But what about the fish? We all know about overfishing and species extinction, so it’s crucial to choose your fish wisely – which is often easier at the fishmonger than it is at a fish & chip shop. This is where the Sustainable Seafood Guide comes to the rescue. An online tool as well as an app, it’s as simple as searching for the type of fish you want to eat and checking the rank.

Make sure you check yours and your date’s seafood choices so you can enjoy your parcel of freshly deep fried food knowing you have made a more sustainable decision.

Why is this a great date idea?

Sunshine, sand and water – whether you go swimming or not, the beach is a fantastic outdoors date. You get a bit of vitamin D and honestly, who doesn’t feel a bit more romantic bathed in sunshine with the sea breeze tossing your hair about? As for the fish, every time I use the Sustainable Seafood Guide app around friends they are intrigued and want to know more. It’s a wonderful little educator on the types of fish we should be eating more of and ones we should avoid altogether.

Sustainable dating isn’t all about being outdoors, so here’s one last option for committed homebodies who prefer their dates cosy and low-key rather than rugged and sandy.

sustainable date ideas

Board games by candlelight

Prove two people can have hours of fun with their clothes on by having a board game night with your date. Grab your favourite game, light some candles and chill a cask of Australian wine (much more sustainable than a bottle) for a romantic night in.

What’s the deal?

No matter what your interests, there will be a board game suitable for you and your date. Try Eurogames like Agricola, a card game like the aptly named Love Letter or even an old faithful like Scrabble. A fun way to match your wits, intellect and ability to strategize, board games are a bit of competitive fun and an excellent way to stave off fear of awkward silences.

Why is this a great date idea?

It’s private, you don’t have to leave home and the candles are not only  romance-inducing but also a great power saver. Any extra sparks you create definitely won’t contribute to your carbon footprint. Board games are a lifelong investment and can be played for years to come – imagine the flashbacks when you sit down with your grandkids to play Ticket to Ride, reminiscing about the evening you spent flirting over train routes.

Considering sustainability while dating isn’t that difficult and there are plenty of activities that are fun, flirty and suitable for two with as little impact on the environment as possible. Other ideas include pretending to be a tourist and exploring your own city, spending a day volunteering at an event together, a visit to your local organic farmers market to grab ingredients for a homemade lunch, or even a simple picnic in the park with plenty of opportunities for canoodling. Failing that, by far the most sustainable activity you can engage in is best done with the lights off…  all in the name of energy efficiency of course.

Photo Credit
Loving on the edge, Collin Key (CC)
Geocaching, Sean Carney (CC)
Fish and Chips, Travis (CC)
Disco Ticket to Ride, Kevin Cheng (CC)
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Ancient suds, modern miracle: Replace every product under your sink with Castile soap


What if you could replace a whole cupboard of cleaning products with one simple, environmentally preferable, animal friendly soap? Lucia Holding looks at the wonders of Castile soap.

A couple of weeks ago I took the first steps on my journey towards a home with no nasty, harsh products. Everyday household cleaners, beauty and self-care products can be quite toxic, and without even knowing it we could be polluting the planet. But don’t panic! There is a way to avoid the damage. The answer is simple: Castile soap.

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