Monday, May 23, 2011

Green Shopping: Apartment Basics

Ineveitably, when moving into a new apartment there are things you realize you need that you don't have. So you shop for it. But where do you shop and what do you buy to ensure that you're making green choices for your new place?

Used items are always a good place to start so I checked out Craigslist and also went to my local thrift store.
I found a washer and dryer pair for $200 that was fairly new and lightly used. The washer is top-load but I figure I'm still saving the world energy and resource use by buying used instead of new and by only doing full loads on a short cycle (even when the washer is full I use a medium water level and it still gets all the clothes clean). I also only ever use cold water to do the washing. Since I'm forgetful (I prefer "busy") I often leave the clothes in the washer for a bit after they are finished washing. This lets more water drain from them so if I do use the dryer to dry them (I also have a rack on which I dry most of my clothes) they take less time. Be careful with your dryer's sensor dry settings, sometimes they aren't very accurate. I usually dry my clothes for 20 minutes and then check them. Most of the time they are dry enough to let them air dry the rest of the way...unless drying heavier items like towels and jeans (which I usually line dry anyway).
I also found a dresser and night stand set that was in great condition and came with a mirror. It's a nice set that I'm sure I'll be able to keep for a long time. And it's got lots of storage which is great!
Since my used item shopping yeilded limited results I knew I'd have to go out and buy new. I went to KMart because, while I want to make green choices, I'm not rich. I knew it would be a challenge to find everything I needed without purchasing a lot of plastic or non-green items. There was plastic everywhere I looked and all sorts of chemicals and not very natural materials. But I did pretty well for myself. Here are some of the things I bought:
* Shower curtain made from 100% recycled plastic bottles (no plastic packaging)
* Rugs made from recycled cotton (they did have a spray vynal bottom)
* Bamboo kitchen spoon, and spatulas (better than wood as a renewable resource)
* wood and metal clothes hangers
* metal colander
* wood hand painted trash bin (painted by some under privilaged population with proceeds to help them)
* Metal hanging shower caddy (with rubber suction cups)
* wooden handled metal garden trowel (it was in a plastic bag but I left that at the store).

I did need a few other things that KMart didn't have so I went to an upscale kitchen store. There I found:
* A french style rolling pin (100% wood)
* Stainless steel measuring cups and spoons
* Stainless steel vegetable peeler
* Stainless steel cheese grater (no plastic!!)
* Metal tray for sorting silverwhere (This did come in a plastic wrap)
* Ceramic counter compost bin (This was also wrapped in plastic and has a plastic seal around the rim).
* Glass and metal cookie jar (for my flour or other goods, I will probably end up buying more).

We also got free furniture from family including a bed, futon matress, couch, and a few lamps.

We still need a trash bin for the kitchen, a recycling collecting bin, a table and chairs, a coffee table, more lamps, a compost bin, other gardening tools.
I'm hoping to be able to find most of these things used but I'm sure I'll have to be shopping again!

Also, I need to purchase some organic soil. My local gardening store sells this in bulk so I will be able to buy it without plastic! They also sell compost starter in a wooden box so there is no plastic. I am looking forward to gardening though I need to finish getting moved in first!

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