The American dream has changed over the last couple decades — the goal used to be to buy a home and start a family, but with the constantly growing population, it doesn't make as much sense with the current economic state of the country. In addition to helping you save money, sharing space can be better for the planet. How can getting a roommate or sharing your space positively impact the earth?
Reduced Electricity Costs
Having roommates can reduce the amount you pay for utilities that you all use and other shared expenses. Paying half of a utility bill, after all, is always better than having to pay the whole thing.
While you might use slightly more water when you have roommates, you all use the same heating, cooling and lighting, so those bills should be lower. You can also split the cost of maintenance and other expenses with those you share your space with. To avoid disputes, make your expectations clear and set up a system in advance for who pays what. For example, agree on a temperature for the thermostat and make it known, before you get the bill in the mail, that you'll split it evenly.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Sharing spaces doesn't necessarily just mean sharing your home — the sharing economy encompasses cars as well, with apps like Uber and Lyft. While there haven't been a lot of studies looking into the environmental impact of the ride-sharing apps, studies of carpooling have shown that sharing your car with others during your commute reduces the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.
Again, this doesn't just reduce your carbon footprint — it can help save you money too. If you're carpooling during the week, you don't have to fill up your own car as often which saves you money at the pump.
According to the EPA, the average person generates around 4.4 pounds of garbage every single day — in 2013, the entire country generated a whopping 245 million tons of trash. Of that, only about 87 million tons was recyclable or compostable material.
Adding a roommate to the equation might seem counterintuitive but combining groceries and utilities will not only save you money but also help to reduce your impact on the planet. Instead of buying a bunch of different packages that will rot in the landfill, you can consolidate your grocery shopping to reduce your overall waste. If you want to take that a step further, look for a no-waste grocery store that does away with packaging altogether — you bring your own reusable containers to purchase your groceries.
Reduce Clutter and Hoarding Behavior
When you're sharing your space, it's harder to cling to all of your clutter — depending on the size of your home, you may not even have enough space for it. You will need to reduce or better organize your belongings to make room for the belongings of another person. There's no better time to declutter!
Once the home is free of clutter, don't let anyone else makes it back into a mess. Set some ground rules about belongings in common areas and try to keep your own personal items in your room or other private space. Take things that you don't want or no longer need and donate them to local thrift stores.
Be Stingy With the Thermostat
Heating and cooling are some of the biggest energy wasters. Talk to your new roommate about what temperatures they are comfortable with — and set your thermostat accordingly. If you live in an area that allows it (and where it is safe) open your windows during temperate weather and enjoy the breeze. During cooler months, set your thermostat low — 68 is generally the recommend setting — and bundle up. This helps to reduce your utility bills while still keeping your home relatively comfortable.
Investing in fans can help reduce your heating and cooling bills as well — even a warm apartment can be comfortable if the air is still flowing. Ceiling fans are ideal, but if your home doesn't have them and you're renting or can't install them for other reasons, floor and desk fans are a good alternative.
Sharing your space doesn’t just help you save money on utility bills — it can also help reduce your impact on the planet. With a growing population and climate change breathing down our collective necks, every little bit helps.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.