For many the option of living in the country is not possible. Due to career choices, personal preference and a struggling economy, many have settled for a more metropolitan life style. Nature lovers now find themselves living in small apartments or lovely town homes. With all the knowledge we have today about our environment and bettering our mental health naturally we who choose to live in city limits must struggle to leave a smaller foot print and create a more natural living space. To some this would seem like we are decorating our hamster cages but, to us few who enjoy the benefits of the city and better school systems in our suburbs, it’s worth it. This mindset and life style goes beyond recycling and eating locally grown food.
Electricity is a necessity when living in an apartment or townhome. It’s very difficult to set solar panels on your roof and most complexes require you have power working in the home and water as well, by a utility company. So in light of this and the realization that living off the grid completely self-sustained is not possible within city limits, you can still lessen your carbon foot print while creating a more natural habitat for your family and self. Naturally the first step is lighting and how much electricity you use. This is an easy fix with so many energy friendly light bulbs out there but don’t stop with light bulbs. Your windows can be a gateway to more light and heat. By hanging decorative mirrors in the right places you can reduce the amount of electricity needed during the day. Watch which walls the morning and evening sun hit, hang large mirrors to catch the sunlight that would normally hit only one wall and reflect that into the rest of the house. A very useful trick is to place a few smaller mirrors about 11x14 size on opposite and adjacent walls to your large mirrors which will allow the light to travel further. When there is a full moon if your mirrors are angled just right you can illuminate your dwelling with a soothing pale blue light in the evening.
The next step is to bring life back into your home. One of the greatest advantages of living in the country is the clean air, trees and plants surrounding your every sense. You can create this same feeling as well as improve the air quality in your city home. Start with deciding how much space you can give up and the zone you live in. Many plants will be in-door but if you have a patio or small balcony you can grow a small portable garden during the growing season. In city limits the temperature may be 10 to 20 degrees hotter than your growing zone is indicated for. This is due to the streets and buildings absorbing more of the sun’s rays and then radiating that heat throughout the night. This can be a good thing during the cooler months but during the summer you will want to watch patio plants for signs of scorching. When growing a small portable garden use the rule of two. Two of each plant will provide food and a more natural atmosphere without taking up too much space. Choose garden plants easily maintained such as tomatoes, lettuces, spinach, herbs, greens, onions and the list goes on, choose what you can maintain and you have the lighting for. Even climbing plants such as cucumber can be grown by placing support sticks and a short piece of wire fencing along the back of the pot; it is suggested to use long rectangular pots for this which allow for deep rooting and space.
With a little creativity and some practical thinking you can start to live more self-sustained within the grid, lessening your carbon foot print every day.
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