Eco-living is easy when you’re in control.
But when you live with other people, and don’t have free reign on your habits and lifestyle, your options are limited.
Living with other people is hard.
Regardless of your values, inhabiting the same home with someone is a huge deal. Although it’s awesome to co-inhabit, relationships can get burnt, the home environment can be tense, and friendships can be ruined. And when you throw ethics and environmental topics into the mix, the risk of a flat or family fall out, increase dramatically.
Fortunately, it’s not impossible to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, whilst inhabiting a home with others.
Here’s how to get through eco-co-inhabiting with less causalities, and more harmony:
This is your new favourite word, okay? There’s no point being known as the annoying ‘bossy britches’ of the house, or ruining your relationship with your parents, because you’re so set on doing it your way.
Inflicting rules on your friends and family, which will inevitably be broken, is not beneficial for anyone. In fact, it will ruin all chances of your housemates actually listening and changing their habits.
Make compromises. Perhaps they’re happy with you choosing eco-friendly toilet paper, but they won’t budge on the plastic dish brush. Fine. Breathe deep, and bring up the conversation later.
Zero waste does not exist. We live in a complex society with systems we simply cannot escape. Even if you have no waste in your rubbish bin, waste is still being created elsewhere down the line that you don’t know about. Keep this perspective at the forefront of your mind when making lifestyle decisions, and give yourself some slack.
Voicing this to your housemates will also make an eco-lifestyle sound more accessible; less daunting. They’re far more likely to get on board with a ‘minimal waste’ lifestyle than complete cold turkey.
You may not live near a bulk bin store, farmers market, or farm. That’s okay; that’s the reality for most of us. Do what you can with what you have, and don’t beat yourself up if it’s not your ideal.
Bring your reusable bags to the super market, avoid plastic wrapped veggies, and buy things in cans.
To get your housemates on board, turn the weekly shop into a fun activity. Bulk bin shopping can become an awesome way to connect, and boycotting waste can turn your supermarket shop into a laugh.
Whatever you do, don’t stop communicating about your living situation and communal spaces. As soon as discussion stops, you risk feelings of resentment.
Check in on your housemates: are you finding the natural cleaners I bought efficient? Do you think we need a bigger kitchen compost container to stop the smells? Is there anything we’re doing as a house that is making you uncomfortable? How are you feeling about the switch from liquid soap to soap bars?
It may sound mundane and silly, but over communicating has never hurt anyone. Lack of communication destroys everything.
Stick to your values, don’t let mainstream habits override what you know to be right, but keep everything in perspective. If your family relationships or friendships are on the line, it might be time to prioritise your people, and compromise (remember, it’s your favourite word!) on eco-lifestyle habits for that moment. Even though looking after our planet is of utmost importance, losing friends and family is not worth a bamboo toothbrush incident.
Living in the same space as someone, is a super intimate experience. If your lifestyle habits focus on looking after the environment, and contradict that of mainstream society, it’s even more polarising… but not impossible.
Compromise, give yourself some slack, do what you can, communicate, and remember that at the end of the day, your relationships are precious too.
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