Big Issues

A Guide To Setting Up A Sustainable Share House

Being friendly to the environment is fun, baby!

It’s share-house season. The time of year when the end of your lease is creeping closer, you’re drowning in a mass of rental applications and staring down your competition at house inspections like a swooping magpie protecting its nest. It’s all a bit of a shit fight.

But it’s also a chance to start fresh, clean out all your shit and set up your new house in the best way possible. Sustainably, baby.

Tackle Single-Use Plastics

A Guide To Setting Up A Sustainable Share House

Single-use plastic is anything you use once and then chuck. Which, when you think about it, is a bloody lot. And that shit does not disappear. Like, ever. The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives for almost every single-use plastic you come across.

Invest in beeswax wrap for the house to wrap up all those delicious leftovers. Think about all the frustrating cling wrap fumbling you’re saving yourself from. Plus there are heaps of sick designs out there to choose from, so your fridge will look super cute.

You may not be planning on sharing meals, but there’s nothing stopping you from sharing reusable grocery bags. Keep them in a communal space near the front door, so no one forgets them on their way out!

Stock your cupboards with an abundance of drink bottles, keep cups or just any old vessel that will hold a beverage and can be used again and again and again.

Sort Out Your Shit

Making sure your household is disposing of waste correctly is the biggest issue to tackle. But there are heaps you can do to make sure your roomies get the not-at-all-passive-aggressive hints you’re leaving around the house.

Colour-coordinate yours bins. Create cute posters indicating what goes where. Call your local council to figure out what can and cannot be recycled in your local area. And start composting your scraps!

You can grab aboveground compost-bins from hardware stores. They’re super easy to get started and take next to nothing to maintain. For those of you on a short lease, or without a backyard at all, this may not be a viable option. So take a look into getting a Bokashi Bin. They’re an indoor compost bin that turns your scraps into compost tea that plants absolutely LOVE.

Get On Top Of Food Waste 

A Guide To Setting Up A Sustainable Share House

In an average household, 14 per cent of all food is thrown out and wasted. That’s a helluva lot of money, time and resources just chucked thoughtlessly into the bin. And who can afford to be throwing out perfectly good food?

Freezers really are a handy invention. If you’re staring down some leftovers that you just can’t stomach eating for the fourth night in a row, throw it in the freezer and save it for next week.

Before you chuck out that stem of broccoli or half eaten jar of pickles, ask your roomies if it’s something they’d use. Sharing really is caring.

For essential groceries that the whole house uses, purchase them together, not separately. What’s the use in having four bottles of open milk in the fridge?

House Guests

You’re bound to have people over at some point! And when you do, you’re not gonna want your sustainable home to be tarnished by people bringing their red plastic cups along

There’s no harm in creating a few party rules, to keep the fun going into the clean up the next morning as well.

  • BYO reusable drinking vessel. People can get as creative and fancy as they like.
  • Don’t be a ciggie butt brain. Provide ashtrays for your guests so they’re not putting out their butts in your basil plant and succulents.
  • Make sure there are plenty of places for people to chuck their recycling (and then return and earn that shit the next morning. Cha-ching.)

Buy Second Hand

A Guide To Setting Up A Sustainable Share House

At one stage or another whilst setting up your house, the temptation to run down to the nearest Kmart and buy two of everything within the homewares section will hit. And when it does, jump into the car and drive to the nearest op-shop instead.

You may need to do a little more rifling, but you’ll come away with decor, furniture and kitchenware that is unique, dirt-cheap and made to last. You can’t say that about the plastic crap you buy from Kmart (and then repurchase three months later when it snaps in half). 

Other Plastic Free Alternatives

It’s not just single-use plastics you can omit from your household. There’s plenty of plastic free alternatives to every day products that, until you think about it, you don’t really think about.

Like, pegs! The wooden ones don’t snap! Toilet paper that comes wrapped in paper, not plastic. Washing powder instead of detergent– it’s cheaper and it comes in a cardboard box.

It’s not always easy to convince your housemates who may not be as environmentally-minded to make these seemingly drastic changes, especially all at once. But take the leap! Lead by example, explain what you’re changing and why, suggest what they could do to help out and don’t forget to mention the long-term economic benefits as well.

Amy is a part-time writer, coffee maker, beer pourer and full-time enviro warrior woman. Permanently stoked on life in the magical city of Wollongong. Catch her by the ocean or getting down on the d-floor.