Those of us who have lived in a sharehouse, know the struggle to get that messy housemate to clean their dishes or put the toilet roll on the holder (this one's personal). But what about trying to get your housemates to recycle properly, cut down on plastic or keep the plants alive?
These are all issues that may arise if you're the only eco-conscious one in the household OR if you're all trying your best, but you just don't know where to start. There are ways to get the household on track to being an earth-loving abode that masters recycling, has pantries full of bulk foods in reusable jars and has an incredibly low energy bill! It just takes a bit of planning. Here are our top tips (broken down by area)!
This is a big one! Recycling can be hard. And ultimately it can depend on your municipality and your local council, but there are some things you can do within your household to help the internal recycling system function properly.
- Check your local councils website for a full list of what can be recycled in your area, this is important!
- Make a list! Or make multiple! Put them above the bins to show what can go in each. Surely your housemates can't come up with excuses if you've clearly written what can and can't be recycled.
- Make sure you have the same inside that you have outside. So if you have multiple recycling bins (like one for paper +containers) then make sure you have the same amount inside and mark them accordingly
- Make an E-waste spot in the house! This is where everyone can put old phones, broken cords etc... that can be recycled. You can find out what the heck to do with your e-waste here!
- Make sure everyone crushes cans and folds boxes before putting them in the bin to maximise space!
Whether you have a separate shelf situation or your pantry is a free-for-all, try floating the idea at your next house meeting about buying some of the more shared food items (like rice, pasta, olive oil etc.) from a bulk food store and splitting the cost. This is more cost-effective and you can take your reusable jars and bags there to cut back on plastic!
You can also have a meat-free day in the household. If you're a great veggie chef, offer to cook dinner on the meat-free day the first few times and teach your housemates how to make delicious plant-based meals, then everyone can take a turn cooking!
Toilet Paper & Paper Towels:
Swapping paper towels for rags and cloths is a great reusable switch that ultimately will save you money and help you curb waste! If this isn't going to work for your household we can opt for the most planet-friendly choice.
If you're in Australia, the UK, Europe, the USA or Sweden the best household toilet paper and paper towel plan is to use Who Gives A Crap, a toilet paper subscription company where you can get 100% recycled toilet paper and paper towels sent directly to your door!
Otherwise, try choosing the most eco-friendly toilet paper you can and make sure the household continuously gets that one. Hint: looks for one that is 100% recycled and that comes in plastic-free packaging!
Ask your housemates if they'll chip in to buy a bunch of reusable wax wraps (If you're in Australia, you can buy them here) or organise a DIY day and make some yourself. Otherwise, try to train your housemates to use containers or bowls with plates on top to store their food. This one can always be a hard habit to break if your housemates were raised solely on plastic wrap, but it's just about clear communication and reminding them of the difference it will make! Once the habit is formed, they'll forget all about plastic wrap!
These are usually shared household items and usually come in plastic. This might be one of the hardest household aspects to change, simply because some people are sceptical about homemade or chemical-free cleaning products.
Have a conversation with your housemates and ask them if they'd be open to making cleaning products and if they say yes, organise a day where you can do this as a household! You can read how to make an all-purpose household cleaner here, or how to use bicarb and vinegar here and a toxic-free drain cleaner here.
Another personal one for me as I have a housemate who insists on turning on the heat lamp, normal light and fan every single time they enter the bathroom, and then leaves them all on all day! For housemates like this, write a note and put it on the exit of the bathroom to remind them to turn off the lights.
Also, have a conversation with your housemates and make sure they are turning all the lights off when they leave the house, turning things off at the wall and are conscious about not having every single light on in the house (even when they are home). This will also reduce your energy bill and save the whole household money, so it's a win-win.
If you're ready to take on a slightly bigger challenge, talk to your housemates about switching energy providers. If you're moving in somewhere new it's a lot easier, because you'll have to choose an energy provider before settling in, but this one can be tougher if you're moving into a share house already full of people. Being armed with the facts and some cost breakdowns will help make the case!
How to talk to your housemates about making changes
When you're having a conversation with your housemates, whether they are on the same page as you or not, let them know how passionate you are about the environment and you would really love to have a household that does it's best to be eco-friendly.
Don't push too much too fast. Take it all step by step. Start with the recycling and then work your way down the list slowly once you've mastered one area. Otherwise, it will seem too daunting!
Let's all try our best to live with the least impact on the planet and bring friends and family along with us on our climate journey! we can on the journey!