8 Ways to Green a Small Space

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Although many of us prefer to live and work in large spaces where we can spread out and have some “breathing room,” with today’s fast-paced and often cramped lifestyle, sometimes that’s just not a possibility.

Luckily, whether you call a small space home or work in an office that could double as a closet, there are many ways to make the most out of your tight quarters. And, no matter the size of the space you’re working with, there are always plenty of opportunities to add some green to your décor.

1. Minimize Your Energy Use

One instant green benefit of living in a smaller space is the potential to use less energy than you would in larger accommodations. Using less energy at home not only saves you money, but helps to reduce your overall impact on the environment.

Now that the weather is cooling down, consider resisting the urge to crank up the heat. For every degree below 68 degrees during cold weather, you can save 3 to 5 percent on heating energy, according to MSN. For areas of the country where the weather is still warm, the same article recommends keeping thermostats set at 78 degrees to save energy and money.

Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

Household plants can add more than just a natural touch. They can also lower noise and help clean the air. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

2. Add a Household Plant

Adding a plant to your small living or office space offers many benefits to you and your environment. In addition to adding a welcoming touch to your living or working space, live plants can help clean the air, reduce noise pollution and even have proven health benefits, according to a NASA study.

Plus, for those who have a hard time staying indoors for long periods of time, decorating with a few house plants is an ideal way to bring nature to you. Just make sure to do your research first – some plants are not suitable for certain pets or can cause allergies.

3. Use Eco-Friendly Wall Decorations

To make a small space seem bigger, interior decorators often recommend making the most out of all the space you have available – including your walls. By decorating your walls, you not only add your own personal touch to your area, but can give the room an appearance of depth.

Check out eco-friendly decorations, which can include everything from reusable wall stickers to environmentally friendly paints. Check out Greenyourdecor.com to start searching for something that suits you. Also, most home improvement shops offer environmentally-friendly paint selections.

4. Green Your Appliances

Even if your appliances are already compact to fit your small living space, using energy-saving models can still make a big difference to the environment and your wallet. To make sure you’re using the most eco-friendly versions, the EPA recommends replacing household appliances with their energy-saving counterparts that showcase the ENERGY STAR logo.

In addition to appliances, ENERGY STAR also makes home electronics, office equipment and lighting fixtures for your home or office space. Some of these products can even qualify you for a rebate or sales tax exemption.

5. Minimize Your Clutter

One of the hardest parts of living or working in a small environment is the lack of space for your possessions. To make a small space more livable, take steps to reduce your clutter. For the stuff that you can live without, instead of hauling it to your local dump, check which items are recyclable and which ones you can pass on.

For items that others can use, consider donating them to your favorite charity or Freecycle them, an eco-friendly way to minimize your mess by passing along your unwanted items to someone else who could use them.

According to ENERGY STAR, CFLs use 75 percent less energy and last about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

According to ENERGY STAR, CFLs use 75 percent less energy and last about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

6. Decorate with Eco-Friendly Furniture

If you call a studio apartment or a similar small space home, chances are your furnishings are minimal. For the furniture you do have in your home or small office setting, you can add a green touch by utilizing environmentally conscious furniture.

Many department stores, furniture outlets and online retailers now offer eco-friendly furniture sets for home and office, along with many space-saving pieces perfect for smaller living areas. These pieces are often made out of reusable or recycled materials at prices that are often comparable to regular furniture pieces.

7. Shine Energy-Efficient Light

Whether you prefer to keep your small space glowing and bright or a bit on the darker and mellow side, small homes and offices can benefit from using energy efficient lighting.

According to ENERGY STAR, a compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb uses 75 percent less energy than a traditional light bulb and lasts 10 times longer. Though CFLs often cost more at first, the appliances can pay for themselves in a matter of months, saving more than $30 over the course of the bulb’s lifetime.

8. Keep Up Your Green Efforts

As the space around you becomes smaller, it might be tempting to economize your green efforts as well. But, even in a tiny space, there’s still plenty of room to go (and keep going) green.

You can still find a place for a small recycling bin, and indoor compost bins especially created for smaller spaces are also available online. And, if space restrictions won’t allow for a full-fledged outdoor garden, consider creating a window box garden. Hanging baskets can also be utilized for your favorite herbs and plants.

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