Renters Guide To Sustainable Living


Owning a property gives us a sense of belonging, security and permanency that renters and temporary lodgers usually don’t have the privilege of experiencing. Owning your own space affords you the freedom to make changes and enhancements to your home without fear of reprisal by a body corporate or property owner - within reason, of course.

For those of us who seek to make positive changes not only within our own lifestyles, but also within our personal physical spaces, the issue of property ownership need not be a complication. With the world’s environmental focus changing to highlight the plight of the planet in general, we as inhabitants are leaning toward solutions that are more sustainable, and which help to alleviate the heavy burden that is currently being placed on Earth as a whole.

In this article, we will look at ways to create a more sustainable living environment, with a focus on those of us who are not necessarily property owners, but who wish to improve the conditions that we live in by considering all factors that affect the world around us.

Prepaid Electricity Meters

As South Africans are very much aware, the supply of clean and consistent electricity is of major concern, but electricity is also a global issue. Fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal are the biggest resources used for creating electricity, but they are also non-renewable resources which formed over centuries. With post-paid electricity, we tend to use more electricity than we really need to because it’s simply available at the flick of a switch – unless there is load-shedding, of course.

On the other hand, prepaid meters make us more consciously aware of our electricity consumption because we have paid upfront for it, and once that prepaid amount is depleted, we are forced to recharge again. In cases like these, it helps to be good at budgeting for the month!
The positive aspect to installing a prepaid meter is that the owner of the property is no longer liable for paying the electricity account and the renter has full control over the expenditure.

Solar Power & Low Energy Bulbs

As already mentioned, fossil fuels are highly valuable, but not renewable, which places the planet under an enormous amount of pressure. As responsible humans, we must co-exist with not only our fellow humans, but with all creatures on Earth. And with that in mind, it makes sense that we research and develop other means of generating power to serve our ever-growing needs. Solar power has proven to be highly capable of covering most of our energy requirements, and although it is not our primary energy resource, it provides a highly economical and renewable alternative to other methods. By discussing the installation of solar panels with the owner of the property, you should be able to come to an agreement about splitting the cost, or even having the entire cost covered by the homeowner.

With light bulbs, always make a point of purchasing low-energy bulbs as these will have a positive impact not only on the environment, but on your pocket too.

Recycle Bins

The concept is certainly not new, but there are surprisingly many people who still discard all of their refuse into one bag, leaving the municipality to deal with the outcome of the disposed goods. By being proactive in this regard, we can eliminate some of that responsibility imposed on municipal staff by doing our bit to categorise and separate our refuse so that the disposal thereof becomes a lot easier to manage. Also, the packaging that we choose has a direct impact on recyclability, so a bit of research and awareness is an important consideration.

Compost Heap

There are many items that most of us are unaware can be added to a compost heap. Vegetable peels and even fly trap contents can be emptied into a compost heap and the rich nutrients will do the rest of the work, producing your own home-grown compost to use in your potted plants and garden shrubs.

Public Transport

Again, fuel, particularly the cost of it, comes into question when it comes to sustainability. Owning a fuel-powered vehicle or motorcycle can be costly, and it also has a negative impact on the environment, including the air that we breathe. By opting to use public transport, we reduce the carbon footprint. It also means that renters who don’t own a vehicle have no need for a parking space on the property. It’s understandable that, in some cases, public transport may be impractical or dangerous, but user discretion is key.

Organic and Natural Products

Using organic and natural products in your home has zero impact on the owner of the property. In fact, he or she may welcome the fact that you are considerate of your surroundings, including the brick and mortar that they have entrusted to you.

Whilst there are still those people who are suspicious about the efficacy of natural products, the benefits far outweigh any negative views or uninformed opinions. We encourage our readers to do some research into the benefits of using organic household and personal hygiene products, as well as natural foods as alternatives to certain goods on the market which may cause allergic reactions and potential illnesses. History has shown that often, decades have passed before it is proven that an item is toxic to humans. Food for thought, right?