You shouldn't have to give up an earth-friendly approach to living when you move to an assisted living community. While seniors might think they're no longer equipped to serve an environmentally friendly agenda, there are several ways sustainable living can be incorporated into a small space.
Gardening is a leisure activity that holds several benefits for seniors, including physical fitness and emotional well-being. Assisted living communities often include some greenery for inspiration and to promote a sense of calm. But there's also the environmental effect a community garden can hold.
For starters, a kitchen garden can promote a garden-to-table approach where seniors cultivate their own greens for consumption. There's also the opportunity to create biodiversity in a community garden by incorporating indigenous wildflowers, which encourage pollinator populations. Greenery also improves air quality and reduces the effects of urban heat islands.
If a community garden isn't an option but you have a balcony or small patio, you can bring some greenery into your space with vertical planters and flower pots designed specifically for balconies.
When you don't have access to any outdoor environment, including a patio, consider a tabletop herb garden. These are designed for apartment buildings and high rises where there's limited or no outdoor space.
Even small spaces still need access to resources such as gas and electricity. Those in small spaces can still reduce their energy consumption by swapping out high-energy lighting for LEDs. Appliances can also drain resources, especially older models that haven't been designed with the environment in mind. Most modern appliances have an ENERGY STAR rating that tells you exactly the impact they have on the environment. Air conditioners, fridges and televisions are used in small spaces too, which gives seniors the chance to change them out for an eco-friendly alternative.
Waste management is becoming an increasingly popular way to reduce the effects on the environment, with manufacturers making a move to more sustainable options — for instance, reducing the manufacture of single-use plastics or using byproducts from other items to manufacture eco-friendly options. For seniors in small spaces, waste management might look different:
Whether you're in a small space or not, eating seasonal is possible. Simply opt for locally grown options that are in season to promote local usage and reduce transport of foods. You could also consider lowering your meat consumption, even if it's just a few days a week. Vegan and vegetarian ingredients are easier to source and have a lower impact on the environment than animal products.
If your small space is still in the design phase, you can opt to use eco-friendly materials in the build process — for instance, using sustainable or repurposed building materials. You can also include some sustainable interior design choices.
While small spaces may limit how much you can do for the environment, small everyday changes add up.