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by Mara Miller, for Rodale’s Organic Life
More people in the U.S. are living alone than ever before (ahem, “me, me, me” Millennials), but, says Katie Kiely, a spokesperson for the National Resources Defense Council, “As a general rule, the more you share, the less you waste. When more people use the same amount of resources, it reduces your individual environmental footprint.” If you’re striving to be an earth-friendly citizen, here are a few reasons why you might want to consider splitting your space—whether it’s with your significant other, your sister, or a Craigslist roommate.
You Waste Less Food
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According to an Institute of Food Research report, single-person households waste the most food per capita. In short, another mouth helps you polish off whatever’s in the fridge before it goes bad. (Plus, it never hurts to have a sous chef for your organic cooking experiments.)
You Can Share A Car
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All right: We know how good it feels to have a car all to yourself, especially for those Saturday morning trips to the farmers market. But if you’re all for sparing the air, take public transportation as much as you can, and share a car with your roommate so you can still enjoy those weekend road trips. By one study’s tally, one person can save as much as 4,800 pounds of CO2 each year by taking existing transit.
You Use Less Energy At Home
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Research shows that solo dwellers burn through 50 percent more gas and electricity, per capita, than people in four-person households. And get this: A study of divorced couples showed that, post-split, they used up to 61 percent more resources per person than when they were together. Moral of the story: Keep things copasetic with your roomies and always remind each other to turn off lights and air conditioning when not in use.
You Spend Less Money
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Cash conservation has always been a great excuse for shacking up. We know that organic food sells for, on average, 47 percent more, according to Consumer Reports, and green-cleaning products cost more than the generic stuff, too. But leftover rent dollars can make room in your budget for more eco-friendly products, no matter who you share an address with. Save on your house or apartment, and spend on items that enable you to live healthfully and naturally.
You’re All-Around Healthier
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A happy, healthy, environmentalist is the best of all worlds. Living together has been linked to improved health. And the risk of depression is higher for people who live alone than in any other arrangement, according to one study. Think of home as your habitat: Wouldn’t it be nice to have other creatures in your ecosystem?
You’re A Good Influence
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Yes, you, Organic Life reader. You can encourage (or shame) everyone in your household to recycle, buy local, and turn the lights off. Or you can pretend to need the shared bathroom to get your partner to end his standard 45-minute shower a little early. (Every extra minute = an additional 2.5 gallons of water waste, you know.)