COOL SOLUTION: A Renters Guide to Sustainable Living

  • Easy ideas for homeowners, too!
  • Celebrate the steps you’ve already taken
  • Work with your family or housemates
  • Connect with your property manager
  • Remember: Big actions have big impact and Little actions add up!

Ride a Bike! Gas vehicles are our region’s largest share of emissions. Riding a bike is fun and healthful!

Why live sustainably?

Simply put, we consume too much. Because we’re consuming too much our emissions are growing, our planet is warming, and extreme climate impacts like floods, droughts, and wildfires are mounting. Time is running out to avoid the worst of it.

What is sustainability?

Living sustainably means meeting current needs without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainable living is simply better for people, the planet, and the economy.

What can you do as a renter?

Renters can live sustainably, too! With lots of little changes, you can lower your consumption of resources AND save money. Or just tackle a few big impact changes to make a big difference. All it takes is a little thought and determination. Start right where you are, right now. Join Cool Davis and our entire community and make some positive and sustainable changes at home today.

Save some cash and have more fun, too!

  • Saving energy saves money off your PG&E bill
  • Most alternative transportation is cheaper than fossil fuel vehicles
  • Cooking at home is usually much cheaper and better for you, too!
  • Saving water may not save much money but it does boost your karma
  • Reducing the amount of stuff in your life means more time for fun

Folks in apartments, condos, and townhouses may have fewer choices than those in single family homes, but sometimes the tradeoff is better overall built efficiency. Choose the items on this list that work best for you and your situation!

Burger Battle Team has a blast at lunch savoring the plant-based fare from Smokin’ Ewe BBQ in 2019.

Ask Your Roommates

  • Practice active listening, be clear about your needs, and show compassion
  • Remind housemates to turn off heating and cooling when leaving for a trip
  • Make it a friendly competition; let the winner skip their part of the energy bill for a month
  • Share a weekly dinner and rotate cleaning and cooking

Ask the Manager

  • Report leaks or broken appliances immediately!
  • Report problems when they happen to avoid charges when you move out
  • Request an indoor recycling bin
  • Ask for weatherstripping for doors and windows
  • Request low flow shower heads and flow regulators
  • Be persistent about your requests and say why it’s important to you

Ask Yourself

  • What keeps me from being more sustainable and how can I get past it?
  • Who and what really matters to me?
  • What could be more important than a safe and secure future?
  • Why would I be wasteful when I could be mindful?

Switch to LED lightbulbs!

LEDs use a small fraction of the energy of other types, don’t contain mercury, and last up to 20 years. LEDs are by far the most environment friendly lighting solution!

Make Sustainable Choices Part of Your Daily Life

In the Living Room

  • Program your thermostat or ask for 68 degrees or lower in the winter and 72 degrees or higher in the summer. Be sure to turn off the heating or cooling when you’re away!
  • Open windows at night in the summer to cool naturally and during warm winter days to ventilate
  • Wear a sweater or cuddle up with a friend on winter evenings
  • Use smart power strips to shut off electronics automatically
  • Store shoes at the front door to keep carpets clean with less vacuuming
  • Adjust ceiling fans to push air down in the summer, and pull air up in the winter
  • Store re-usable grocery shopping and veggie bags near the front door
  • Watch cool and inspiring environmental documentaries!
Line dry your laundry! Dryers both gas and electric use lots of energy. Line dried laundry lasts much longer and smells better naturally.

In the Kitchen and Laundry

  • Fill your water bottle at night so it’s ready in the morning to take along
  • Buy a backpack with a water bottle slot so you don’t lose it
  • Cook in large batches and store in the freezer in smaller containers
  • Shop in bulk with a shared shopping list, avoid impulse buys
  • Prepare plant-based meals and reduce beef, pork, and dairy consumption
  • When you do eat out, support restaurants with vegan/vegetarian options
  • Shop at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and Wednesdays
  • Dry your clothes on racks or lines outdoors if available. This saves SO much energy!
  • Wash in cold or when needed warm water

In the Bedroom

  • Use rechargeable batteries and a battery tester
  • Dead batteries can be dropped at Ace, CVS, Nugget, Rite Aid, Co-op
  • Use curtains to keep in winter heating
  • Use exterior shades if possible to keep out summer rays
  • Use efficient infrared space heaters or portable evaporative coolers if necessary
  • Improve air quality and mental well-being with house plants
  • Use laptops and phones instead of desktop computers
Shower timers are a great way to remind you to save water!

In the Bathroom

  • Turn the water off while brushing your teeth
  • Take 7-minute showers or shorter!
  • Turn off the water while soaping in the shower
  • Limit baths to rare occasions
  • Collect “warming up” water with a bucket to water plants
  • If your toilet is still making sounds 20 seconds after flushing, ask maintenance to fix it

Get Around Town

  • Get a bike and ride it! One of the most impactful actions you can take!
  • Get a lock, helmet, and lights for safety and security
  • GET GREAT DEALS ON BIKES at the UC Davis bike auction and The Bike Garage
  • Take the bus when health permits; download the Unitrans app
  • Carpool with friends on the weekend to make it more fun
  • Grocery shop with your bike using a basket or a spare backpack

We don’t recommend texting while riding, but we do recommend riding!

Use Less Stuff

  • How can I borrow or share stuff to avoid buying new?
  • Make the most out of your existing cell phone, take care of it and don’t upgrade!
  • Peruse our awesome local second hand and thrift stores
  • Find a friend to take your things when you move out
  • Check out Craigslist, Freecycle, and Buy Nothing Davis (Facebook)
  • Watch “The Story of Stuff” online
  • Repair, repurpose, donate
  • Shop local to support local businesses
  • Treat things gently; don’t trash stuff just because you can
  • Ask yourself: Do I really NEED this thing?



Families can do their part no matter whether they rent or own.


Local Resources

Cool Davis (Local Non-Profit)

Greener Davis (City of Davis)

Getting Around Davis

Cool California Household Calculator

UC Davis Housing and Dining Services Sustainability

Sustainable UC Davis


Student activists from 2019 are serious about ensuring a safe and secure future, but they know how to have fun, too!