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How to maintain your sustainable habits while living with others.

Updated: May 30, 2022

Living with other people can be hard. Especially if you've developed sustainable habits that others aren't so receptive to it, yet. This was my reality while living with my parents. It wasn't that they disagreed, but I may have been a bit tyrannical with how I voiced my suggested changes...

So when the swift reality of paternal authority trumped entitled lecturing (oops) I had to figure the language that my parents responded to. Money - (one if our Top 5 Eco Goals for 2022).

That’s my biggest tip when convincing anyone to make a sustainable switch – whether that’s your parents, your flatmates or your partner. Make it worthwhile for them. If you can frame a swap as being cost-effective and convenient first, the fact it’s also better for the environment will be an added bonus.

It's super helpful to make these switches one at a time. Rather than getting super frustrated with your parents or the people you live with and wanting them to do everything at once, choose one product, one area of the house or one part of the weekly shop, and focus on that until the switch has been made.

I've broken down some areas to start with:

  1. The Laundry: I wrote a piece about laundry habits a while ago but honestly, that's the easiest place to start. If you follow my tips, you'll save over $300 per year simply by adapting how you wash your clothes! Also gives you a good excuse to make a cheeky veto purchase for the flat or home.

  2. Energy: About 84% of the electricity in New Zealand is produced from renewable sources. How good! But to make those sources go the extra mile, switch to LED light bulbs in your household. Simply by swapping out lightbulbs, your home or flat could save an average of $100 and $150 annually on your power bill. Not only do LED bulbs use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they also last approximately 15 times longer! (And don't we love it when it lasts longer...).

  3. Dishes: Cleaning dishes can be the biggest soul crusher of all time. However, running a full dishwasher uses half the water & energy as washing the same dishes by hand. Sometimes you can let those mugs & bowls pile up in your room! You're just being climate conscious...BUT if you're a student or living in home that doesn't have a dishwasher, what you use to clean your dishes is a great place to start. The veto. SOAP SLAB will make cleaning any dish (or shower, or oven, or floor) that much easier and will reduce the plastic in your home as well as last at least 6 months!

  4. Matches: Make the sustainable swap fun and non traditional. Lighters, for example. Over 1.5 billion lighters end up in landfill every year. To add insult to injury, most lighters are plastic and filled with butane; both of which are environmentally lame! Matches burn natural elements, like phosphorus (opt for the green matchheads) which does little to no damage to the atmosphere. Also, matches more old-timey & romantic anyway!

The cool thing about starting with any of these sustainable swaps, is that it gives you time to show your parents, partner or flatmates the result of that sustainable alternative.

Say you swapped to LED lightbulbs. After the first bill comes in, you can show them where a saving has been made and perhaps convince them to put that money towards buying bulk food or investing in a sustainable product for the house, like handmade, zero waste cleaning products.

The cool thing about working with a financial incentives is that, once the sustainable swaps are working for the whole household, everyone feels really good about it. That usually has a snowball effect and makes people want to do even more.

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