Many of us are looking for ways to be more sustainable. If you live in an apartment and your only outdoor space is a balcony, it can be challenging to be greener due to the lack of space.
Luckily, there are still plenty of things you can do. Here are 10 ideas for how to use your balcony for more sustainable living.
An obvious place to start with sustainable living is to start composting. It reduces your reliance on food disposal systems and provides a great source of compost and mulch for your plants. We’ve got a full article on balcony composting, so check that out.
2. Grow Crops
As a follow up, try growing food crops on your balcony and setting up a sustainable garden. You don’t need loads of space for high-yield plants like tomatoes, but you could go the opposite direction and grow things that are typically expensive to buy.
Rather than buying new products for your balcony, consider upcycling and reusing things you’d otherwise throw away. For example, you could use soda bottles as hanging baskets or turn old furniture into storage.
A great source of lumber for all kinds of DIY projects is wood pallets. You can turn these into pretty much anything, and most places will give them away for free (or very cheap).
4. Plastic-Free Furniture
We often look for ways to reduce our plastic consumption in food packaging and household products, but have you ever thought about your outdoor furniture? Although this plastic isn’t single-use, you should still consider how effectively it can be recycled.
Instead, opt for natural materials or things that are infinitely recyclable. Wood, bamboo, jute and seagrass are all perfect, and metal is ideal for more durable items. Although the initial cost might be higher, it should last much longer.
LED lighting is the most energy-efficient type, so opt for LED bulbs where possible. You can get LED string lights and normal bulbs fitted with LEDs. They can save up to 90% of the energy a normal filament bulb uses. So, while you might not have lights on all the time, switching to LED is a great way to save money (and energy).
If you have guttering on your balcony, consider investing in a water catcher. It’s perfect for watering both indoor and outdoor plants and helps you cut down on consumption during the summer. You should find that a 50-gallon water catcher lasts a few months, even for a fairly large balcony garden.
7. Pollinator-Friendly Plants
This is a bit of a more indirect tip for how to live more sustainably. Pollinator-friendly plants will attract insects like bees and butterflies to your balcony garden. Not only do these help with any plants you’re growing but they also encourage insect communities to develop in the area. Considering we’re dealing with declining pollinator populations, it’s a massive help.
8. Solar Panels
Installing solar panels is a much larger investment than everything else suggested here. However, it could be worth speaking to a local company to see if it can install panels on your balcony somehow. Theoretically, they could be fixed to your balcony railing.
A single solar panel can produce around 1.8kW of energy a day, which equates to around 5% of a standard home’s energy needs.
If you don’t have space for a full balcony garden, plant some herbs in small containers. Doing so reduces your reliance on supermarkets and means you’ll always have a fresh supply of herbs.
It can be quite wasteful to buy a whole herb plant for a single meal, so having your own plants means you can just snip off as much as you want every time.
It’s fair to assume that, if you have a balcony, you likely have large windows leading onto it. Presumably, there’s also a door. Make sure you consider adding extra insulation to your glass in the colder months, as this can improve your home’s energy efficiency and reduce your heating bills.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to use your balcony for sustainable living. It all comes down to trying to reduce reliance on store-bought products and energy. Provided you’re willing to put a bit of work in, a balcony can be a surprisingly sustainable place.