4 Tips for living with non-Zero Waste Roommates
Updated: Feb 8
Living together with a friend or loved one can be great but can be a real challenge when you have different values in life. When you feel strongly towards making to world more sustainable while your partner or roommate just doesn’t bother things might heat up. Here I have a few tips to help you prevent real trouble.
Make sure the other one knows about your lifestyle. It is important for them to know the values you live by. This is especially important when you want to start something new that might affect them like the setting of the thermostat to save energy or when you start composting organic waste. Anything that affects more than just you need to be discussed beforehand to avoid trouble.
Set the right example
People might think zero wasters are a bit extreme. We live out of mason jars and don’t take showers. Show your partner/roommate how you make your life as sustainable as possible. For example, start by showing them how you do your zero waste groceries. They might not use the reusable produce bags as that might be a step too far but they will likely bring the cotton tote bag with their next shopping trip. Have them take baby steps. Each step counts! Provide bins for the recyclables. Asking them to recycle everything themselves might be too much but if you ask them to provide them in the right bin so you can recycle for them, it might be more doable.
Before you started your zero waste journey, you knew nothing about a sustainable lifestyle as well. Help your roommate with little bits of information on how to take small steps to live more sustainable. I especially mention small steps as a large monologue about why you should go vegan and why the meat industry is bad for the environment will probably have the opposite result. A small example like ‘did you know chewing gum contains mostly plastic?’ will probably have them thinking and stop buying/using chewing gum. Again, small steps are the way to go. Make them more aware of all the small sustainable options and the larger changes will follow.
Be flexible and compromise
Not all zero waste alternatives are for everybody. For me, changing from disposable to reusable feminine hygiene products was a big change. So don’t expect those large changes from a roommate/partner. If the other one was used to ordering in every week, make the small change to do it every other week (and request as less plastic as possible when ordering). Instead of ordering pizza, make your own. Instead of buying lunch at work every day, help them prepare lunch in a reusable lunch box.
Just remember that you can’t change the world on your own but you can take small (and a few larger) steps at a time and help others with their small steps to make our world more sustainable.