This post was originally written by Kate Hall, and appeared on The Green Hub.
Picture Pinterest worthy shelves stocked with matching jars, and compostable dish brushes placed perfectly by your bar of natural soap on the kitchen sink.
Imagine crisp paper bin liners, organic cleaners in glass bottles, a compost bin with the perfect carbon to nitrogen ratio, and tea towels made ethically from hemp.
It’s easy to create your own eco-haven when you have full control of the reigns. But imagine adding in a few extra people to the mix. Suddenly, you’re not the only one responsible for maintaining the compost, your mum doesn’t like the idea of using paper bin liners, and your flatmate loves pump soap that comes in thick plastic bottles.
Is it possible to live with other people whilst embracing your eco-values?
Living with your family, flatmates, or even your partner, can make your eco-lifestyle habits sway and raise contention in the household (contention is a nice way to put it). Sustainable living is relatively new, and alienating those who inhabit your home by changing their everyday practices, is not an easy practice. Nevertheless, it’s completely possible.
I’ve been 100% committed to an eco-lifestyle for two years. In that time, I’ve always lived with other people. Here’s how I do it.
1. Be patient
Instead of coming in ‘gung-ho’ to my living situation, I started out slow. I began by expressing my values, and left it at that. Slowly, as we all started to gain rhythm and routine, I began changing things. Two years ago, we still used plastic bag bin liners. Today, our bin is liner-free, and has been for 6 months without complaint.
You know what they say: “good things take time”, it’s true. There’s no point being known as the ‘preachy hippy’ of the household. You’ll lose.
Take it slowly; implement small changes over a long time period.
Eco-living aside, communication is number one when living with others, and communication doubles in importance when it comes to sustainable living. It may sound petty, but if you’re going to change the brand of dish brush your house uses, without consulting your family or flat first, there will most definitely be an uproar.
Ask your house mates before you change anything. Request their opinion on changes, let them know you’re open for suggestions, and brainstorm options together. If you make an eco-swap, check in with them a few weeks later to see how they feel about it.
Tip: Communicate more than you think is necessary.