Updated: Nov 1
So, you have decided to adopt a sustainable lifestyle–way to go! Avoiding plastic as much as possible, recycling paper, metal, and glass, and turning the water off while brushing teeth, among others, are your regular habits.
But you still live with your parents, they do not follow your sustainability rules, and it is hard to get them into doing so.
As the Chinese proverb says, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; the same goes for sustainability. It is challenging to change long-engrained routines for everyone. You have to take it slow and should be prepared to openly communicate with them, explaining why sustainability is important to you, and why it is crucial for the environment. If you cannot come to an agreement, do not argue; try talking to them again in a while; maybe they have too much on their mind at the moment. A sustainable lifestyle is a process, and if they are not into it at the moment, do not underestimate the power one person has–you.
Therefore, I made a list of 10 easy and simple ways to live sustainably while living with your parents. This list can help you to gradually introduce them into sustainability. Before we begin, it is
essential to say that you should be kind to your parents; after all, they gave your life and raised you to become the person you are now.
1. Lead by example. Show your parents how to live sustainably, but do not force it. When going to the store, bring a reusable bag (or remind them to take it), buy metal water bottles for everyone (for Christmas or birthday), etc. Repurpose stuff you already have, reduce your consumption of single-use plastic.
2. Ask for sustainable gifts. Whether for a birthday or Christmas, ask for a gift of your choice. You saw that magnificent soap making set but just cannot afford it? Or a fantastic starter kit for indoor house plants? You could also ask for an experience as a gift.
3. Compromise. If you cannot come to an agreement related to the gift, ask for a gift card from your favorite shop and purchase it yourself. In this case, you can even combine several gift cards (grannies always love giving gifts!) and buy yourself something more expensive, which you maybe could not with just a single gift card.
4. Reduce food waste. Eat up your food, do not throw it away! This is so straightforward I really do not think anyone will not agree with this. When your mom (or dad) prepared that meal, she indeed made it with love, and she would not be happy if you threw it away. Suppose you cannot finish your meal–save it for later. Also, do not buy food you do not like. Extra hot potato chips are not your favorite? Do not buy them; buy the ones you like and will eat. (Although potato chips are definitely not the healthiest food choice to make.)
5. Offer to make a meal and do the dishes afterward. Make something unconventional; try to make it a leftover dinner. Additionally, you can go to the farmers’ market and buy fresh local and seasonal ingredients and make it into a feast. Your family will surely love it, and you will eat sustainably!
6. Become the recycle go-to person. Offer yourself to be the one who is responsible in the family for recycling. Make recycling boxes for plastic, paper, glass, metal, and be sure to empty them regularly. Start composting. Your parents will definitely more easily opt for recycling when they know that you are taking care of it and you make it as easy as possible for them.
7. Repair and reuse. If your phone or other electronics break, do not ask for a new one. Look up the repair options. You can make it into a fun trip to the repair store. Furthermore, if you are looking for uncommon ideas for trips, suggest beach or forest cleanup. Grab a pack of gloves for everyone and old plastic bags (surely you still have some somewhere in your home) and clean a part of a beach, a meadow, a forest, and spend a day outside doing something together and valuable.
8. Buy sustainably. Of course, you need (and want) new stuff. Clothes, shoes, accessories. However, you are a person who makes your own decisions, and you can decide to buy from ethical brands or second-hand. If you go shopping with your parents, do your research before going to the store. If you prefer online shopping, share with them ethical and sustainable stores and brands. Besides, you could visit thrift or a second-hand store (online).
9. Eco-friendly transport. Your parents decided to buy you a vehicle. Why not ask for a bike? Even better, a pre-loved bike! If you are not into cycling yet, you will love it. Not to mention how sustainable it is. Bike commuting significantly reduces a person’s carbon footprint, and it improves your overall health. And it is free! Provided you are clumsy, start walking. Suppose you need to pick up something and it is a 5-minute drive, suggest taking a 15-minute walk. Not only will you be environmentally friendly, but you will feel great after a short, crisp workout.
10. Start gardening. Even if you live on the 20th floor in a skyscraper, you can at least grow herbs on your windowsill. Of course, it is much easier to start gardening if you have a plot of land available, and nowadays, there are many community urban gardens where you can rent a lot and start your garden. If your parents already have a garden, join in and help out. During summer, you will enjoy the produce from your garden, and in autumn, you can make jams or pickles, whatever you managed to cultivate.
Needless to say, there are plenty of other ways to live sustainably, which can be adopted quickly in daily life, but you cannot implement all of them at once. Moderation is crucially important in everything, so is the case with sustainability.
And once you start, you will be surprised how one thing naturally leads to another. It is quite possible that your parents will follow your lead as well.