Waste Reduction: How Low Can You Go? -- Low waste living when you're the only one

Waste Reduction: How Low Can You Go? -- Low waste living when you're the only one

It can be frustrating when you're trying your best to reduce your waste but the people you live with aren't totally on board. This is a common topic that people bring up with me so I'll provide the advice that I typically give.

Before getting into tips on how to live with someone who isn’t focused on waste reduction, my first piece of advice is to not stress about it. I know, easier said than done, but it’s a terrible feeling to try and force someone to do something, just as it’s a terrible feeling when someone is trying to force you to do something. So relax and remember that it’s okay if this is a solo adventure, the people you live with don’t have to be fully on board.

My second piece of advice is to lead by example. Most people don’t like to be told what do to but if they see you doing something and you make it look easy, they might catch on and follow along. Also put some effort into creating a non-judgmental environment where they feel comfortable to ask questions and show an interest in what you’re doing.

Next, find out what their barriers are. It could be the time to buy products, the cost of the products, maybe they’ve tried it and they don’t like it, maybe they’re curious but just have questions. The approach you take will depend on these barriers.

If time is the barrier, offer to buy some things for the household. Maybe they just don’t want the added time involved with refilling bottles at a refill station. Maybe they prefer to buy everything in one go from a department store and don't like buying things online. You can acknowledge that barrier and offer to do that work.

If cost is the barrier, get them some products as gifts, or do some research and find a different and more affordable option that maybe they hadn’t heard of.

If they don’t like the item, then they don’t like the item. It’s possible that they’ve only tried one and written it off, maybe they’d like a different brand or style. But again, don’t push it. Let them make their own choices, no need to force it.

And just a reminder that you can have both options. If you want to switch to bars of soap but your roommate or partner prefers liquid, just have both. You can feel good knowing that you aren’t contributing to shipping a mostly water product around the world, and you don’t have to force someone else to make a change that they don’t want to make.