Many people who are involved in the zero-waste lifestyle are extremely passionate about it. While this is great for the planet, it can make it hard to cohabitate with other people! When you have to live with someone non-zero waste it’s important to remember a few things.
Don’t push it!
The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t push your lifestyle on other people. While the planet is important and your passion is understandable, pressuring people to do something never goes well. Just like insulting people who eat meat doesn’t make them vegan, telling someone that using plastic is harming the planet won’t make them stop. While you can casually mention your lifestyle, getting passive aggressive or too heated about things they do that hurt the planet doesn’t help anyone.
Lead by example.
The most important thing you can do is walk the walk, and lead by example! If you want them to recycle more, recycle yourself. Sort recycling, and whatever else you hope they’ll do.
Make low-waste options accessible.
In terms of things you can do to influence their behavior, one thing you can do is make eco-friendly options easy to use. For example, instead of keeping paper towels on the counter you can keep them in a cabinet. Putting zip-lock bags under the sink and having Tupperware in an easily accessible cabinet makes it easier to grab some Tupperware, but doesn’t have to come across as you pressuring them.
Focus on money-saving aspects of environmentalism.
If you want to have a discussion about switching to an eco-friendly alternative of something (for example, a washable sponge), one easy way to get people on board is to focus on the money saved. Since the first R is reduce, you can do a lot by just reducing how much you use. This could look like suggesting a low-flow showerhead to lower the water bill, changing to LED light bulbs for the electricity savings, or buying reusable versions of single-use items you have to buy.
Focus on the benefits of less wasteful products.
If money-saving benefits don’t convince them, you can focus on other benefits of the reusable alternative. For example, you could point out that rags are stronger than paper towels.
The biggest thing you can do is to communicate! Whether it’s about your feelings, or how you’d feel having to take out the trash if you don’t make it. Just talk about it!
Basically, don’t push it, but do talk about it and make the best of your situation! Whether you’re living with a partner, roommate, or family member, these tips should help make it a little easier. What are your experiences living with someone who isn’t zero waste?