Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Sustainable Tips for Your New Home

Moving into a new apartment is incredibly exciting, but for those interested in living a more conscious lifestyle it can mean a whole new set of stresses, especially if it involves furnishing your new home from scratch! Over the last few weeks I've felt really guilty for buying a lot of new things, but ultimately I've had to keep telling myself that living a more sustainable life is a balance, and every smaller choice contributes to bigger change. Read on for my top tips for a more sustainable new home!

1. If possible, choose a renovated property
The biggest decision you can make happens before you even move in, by choosing a property with the least environmental impact. These days buildings regulations are very comprehensive, meaning that if you choose a new or recently renovated property, it's likely to be well insulated, with the latest central heating and windows that will help prevent energy escaping, and also keep your monthly bills down. 

2. Do some research on green energy providers
Whatever your home runs on, shop around for the best deals on green energy and support businesses trying to do the right thing (a rare thing in the energy sector). Here in Berlin, we chose to go with LichtBlick, a relatively small company that's provided brilliant service from the first email contact right through to installation, and we even got sent a reusable jute bag along with our contract! Can't get more "eco" than that.

3. Favour second-hand furniture over new
Moving into an unfurnished flat with hardly any belongings of our own unfortunately meant that we have had to buy a lot of new things - pretty much the opposite of a minimalistic life. Ideally we would have taken our time, visiting the many second-hand stores and flea markets here to build up a collection of unique pieces, but the necessity of having a bed and sofa soon took over and we ended up making multiple trips to Ikea. However, where possible we have tried to keep the second-hand spirit alive - in a former life, our new dining table used to be my boyfriend's old desk, and the vast majority of our crockery and cutlery has been handed down by his family.

4. Discover your inner DIY expert
The best thing about your new home? It's YOURS. Get crafty, learn how to use a paint brush and a sewing machine, check out Pinterest and Instagram for some inspiration and start adding those unique touches that you can't buy in a store. I've currently got big plans for some vintage map-inspired artwork, but before then I need to tick off a couple of other projects on my to-do list, including finishing off a DIY pinboard that we've had great fun collecting wine corks for! 

5. Support local businesses in your area
Remember that your new home doesn't stop at your front door - it includes your neighbours, your community, and all the independent businesses that you can help support, whether that's getting involved with local events, making the effort to buy your fruit and vegetables at the market rather than the supermarket, or simply popping into your corner store every now and again.

I would love to hear any other top tips for a more sustainable home  - let me know in the comments below!

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