We all have been there. You want to make a lifestyle change but the only thing standing in your way is your beloved family, roommates, or significant other that won’t comply. You don’t want to force sustainable living on them but you want to make the change for yourself. So how can you do it?
I started my sustainable journey during my freshman year of college. I flew the coop and went to school in the little hippie city, La Crosse, Wisconsin. I saw how much I could impact by just making simple sustainable lifestyle changes so I decided to start. I bought personal reusable bags, straws, and cutlery; started eating less meat; tried walking more; all the normal starting changes. But when I went home, I came home to a plastic filled kitchen with all kinds of waste that I was blinded by before.
Don’t get me wrong, my family is better than most on this journey – we recycled heavily, had a beautiful garden, had a compost pile, reused just about everything we could – but there were improvements to be made. So, I tried to impart my new-found wisdom on them.
They were receptive but didn’t change much at first BUT a few years in to my scheme of living sustainably with them, things are looking up in the Giordano household.
Just note, you do not have to try to change whoever you are living with, you can do small things individually but there are ways to get them involved and that is what I’m sharing below…
Here are my tips for living with non-sustainable people. This can go for roommates, family members, significant others, whatever you wish.
1. Be independent
Don’t be afraid to act on your own! Make your own meals, do your own grocery shopping, second-hand shop, bring your reusable water bottle places, say no to unneeded junk. Just because you live with people who aren’t living the same lifestyle as you, does not mean you have to too. Be confident in it. I may be bias but a sustainable lifestyle is a cool one! Own it.
2. Make delicious meatless meals for your nonsustainable people
Not only can you make yourself meals, volunteer to make dinner for everyone and opt for an option without meat. This way you are consuming fewer animal products and sharing how delicious meatless/vegan meals can be!
A go to sustainable meal for me was stir fry. I made my family some colorful, vegetable dense stir fry and they loved it! They even started making stir fry when I wasn’t there! Scoree!
3. Buy them sustainable gifts they will actually use
“Hey mom, I got you something!”
Whether it be for a birthday, holiday, or no occasion at all, I started bringing home plastic-free gifts. Give them gifts that are easy swaps for what they are currently using. Extra brownie points if it’s a money saving swap too! This wasn’t to try to change them but to give them a nice little push into how cool it can be.
Your housemates are not likely to spend their own money on reusable options but if they’re bought for them, why not use them! This was one of the ways that I saw the most change. People think sustainable products are cool but they don’t always know where to start. But you do!
Some of the gifts I gave were:
4. Start a garden
If you have the space for it, grab your nonsustainable friend and start a garden – or do it solo! Whether it be inside or out, give it a try! This way you get everyone involved, reduce the produce you buy, and get to see the magic of a garden.
My family already had a garden but, living in Wisconsin, we can’t always grow things outside in winter… obviously. So, I made my family an indoor herb garden out of a palette and so they could grow little herbs year round!
5. Watch documentaries together
Show your family, roommate, or significant other scientifically backed documentaries about what the current situation is in our country. Show them that we need to make a change and maybe once they see it, they will believe it! It’s not only just a phase that you’re going through, it’s a real issue that they should take seriously too!
Remember, you aren’t trying to force this lifestyle on them. Be independent but share where you see fit.
My favorite documentaries are:
- Before the Flood
- A Plastic Ocean
- Chasing Coral
- Chasing Ice
6. Share your knowledge
Share where you found the motivation to live a sustainable lifestyle! I started my journey with lots of documentaries, articles, books, and Google searches. Be your family’s Google for sustainable questions. Drop little knowledge bombs when you can. Share your side of the story and you may just pique their interest.
You can tell other people than the people you live with too! Share your truth. Share your thoughts. But know when you are pushing it on your family just a liiiiittle too much. There’s a time and place for tips and tricks but it doesn’t have to be all the time.
7. Know you can only do so much
If you’re living in the house and you want to live differently, do what you can individually. Cook your own meals, try to reuse new items, make a recycling bin, start a compost project. Small little changes add up! It is give and take. Do what you can now and someday it may be different.
In the end, you can’t change other people that much. Realize that every swap is a little victory. The mere fact that you changed that person’s perception of an idea so much for them to actually make a change is AWESOME! Do what you can for yourself and if they follow, even better.
Share your wisdom, help them with questions, and be there to celebrate their changes. That’s all you can ask for.
This was a highly requested post on my Instagram so I hope you all find it helpful! If you have any questions, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond to them! Do what you can and society will eventually get there too 🙂
More posts about sustainable living:
- 21 Best Zero Waste Swaps That Save You Money
- How to Reduce Anxiety in a Sustainable Lifestyle
- 6 Tips to a More Sustainable Laundry Routine