If you're a good tenant and have an amicable relationship with your landlord, you can always suggest some ways he or she can green up the property. Your best chance at success is to think of some things that won't cost the landlord a lot of money. If you ask them to switch to solar power, you'll probably be met with a furrowed brow or a big laugh. But if you request better insulation or weather stripping, you may actually get somewhere.
As a tenant, you can green your rental unit yourself without spending a lot of money on a property you don't own. Using environmentally friendly cleaning products, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs and conserving water and power are all good ways you can make an impact. Recycling is another way to make a green contribution, and it actually is one of the only demands you can make on your landlord. In the United States, tenants have a right to recycle. This is typically enforced on the state and local level.
The state of Oregon requires apartment building owners to provide recycling services and the city of Portland states the process has to be as convenient as the trash service. If an apartment building has overflowing recycling bins or if they're located in a difficult-to-access area, the landlord can face fines. The city of Chicago also has a 10-year-old ordinance that requires residential recycling services for apartment buildings. A 2001 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study found that apartment renters are only slightly less likely to recycle than homeowners, 14.6 percent to 16 percent, respectively [source: EPA]. With 35 million renters in the United States, that makes more than five million residents eager to do their part and recycle.
To find out about what your rights are as a renter with green on your mind, check out your state's tenant rights at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Web site.