About The Sustainable Living Programme

Learning future living skills

This NZ community education programme is a practical, fun way to learn and try out actions that reduce your environmental impact at home.  It’s an opportunity to 'make a difference for the planet', probably save on living costs and be healthier too. Think of it as learning future living skills, relevant at any stage in life.

The charitable trust is managed from Canterbury for 15+ partner unitary, city and district councils across NZ. Current trustees include: Tony Moore from Christchurch City Council (Principal Advisor-  Sustainability), Kitty Waghorn from Waimakariri District (Solid Waste Asset Manager), Natalie Hormann who tutors for Upper Hutt City and Eion Scott from Matamata Piako Council (Communications Manager) who is a former Eco Design Advisor for Auckland Council. The National Coordinator Rhys Taylor is also an experienced tutor.

From the eight Group Learning Guides, (or if available locally, from a one-term tutored evening class series), find out what could make your house a healthier, warmer place, and how you can grow food and reduce your weekly waste. Other topics are: travel options to reduce carbon footprint, water saving and stormwater protection, smart food shopping options, eco-building design and community resilience. All these topics have a practical focus, and are independent of commercial bias as there's no advertising within the materials. Local government support makes this possible.

Interested? Register your address now on this site, to get occasional newsletter alerts by email, such as when we publish new materials or extra Councils join the programme. We suggest you visit our districts page first, to check if your local council is taking part and if so you can register at the link heading that page to get acces to the Learning Guides free of charge.  These materials are in PDF format, ready to print or to view on-screen. See the non-member councils tab for an individual membership option.

The programme has been devised and supported by a consortium of local councils, to share costs and knowledge. Further councils join each July to expand our coverage: in 2016 Tasman and the Wairarapa group of three councils (led by Masterton) came in, and in 2017 Upper Hutt, Rangitekei, Nelson, Matamata-Piako and Kapiti Coast joined us. Nelson City joined alongside Tasman from 2018. Established members include: Hutt City, Christchurch, Waimakariri, Timaru, Dunedin, Central Otago, and Kaikoura.  Auckland, Invercargill, Hamilton and New Plymouth Council memberships lapsed at January 2018 (but do make contact with our Coordinator if you live there and wish to help get these Councils 'back in' at July 2018).

Council and media enquiries welcomed - background information for the media is here . You can contact Rhys, the National Coordinator, on 03 6938726  email: rhys@sustainableliving.org.nz or could approach the Trust chair: Tony Moore, Sustainability Advisor at Christchurch City Council.

Programme delivery

The Sustainable Living programme previously ran as an evening class series and/or single-topic workshops - thousands have taken part across NZ in the past decade. Whilst these classes and public workshops still run in some areas (for example in Christchurch City, Upper Hutt City, and Timaru District) we find likely users are increasingly web-savvy and would like to download learning materials for use in their household, or to share with friends, neighbours or workmates in a learning group.  Transition Town groups and Environment Centres have been early users of this approach.

During 2016-2018 the Trust's experts re-wrote most of our education materials ready for this group learning approach to 'future living skills', and  we offer them free via a downloads area on this website, to residents in the participating 14 districts - to get access you simply register once through your district or city gateway page on this site.

Clearly not all districts across NZ are yet members of the programme, so if you have checked there and find your area is not yet covered, there is a second option of paying $39 to use the materials for 12 months, as an individual subscriber. To request this and arrange your most convenient payment method, email rhys@sustainableliving.org.nz  with your full contact details

The learning makes a difference, research confirmed

Our early course participant questionnaires showed that adults learning in a group and the 'Sustainable Living' evening course content has made a difference in their lives. The programme also compares well with international good practice. Peer-reviewed research papers are published on the web, in Innovation Journal 2008 and NZSSES Conference Proceedings 2007 (papers by Taylor & Allen) and summarised in a NZ Landcare Research publication Hatched (see Chapter 16)

The programme partners and supporters

This charitable  'education for action' programme has been developed across New Zealand since 2001 by local and regional Councils. It was thought up by staff from Marlborough District and Christchurch City, developed with six others, backed originally by Ministry for the Environment grant. As popularity of the high school evening class delivery method spread, it reached 25 council areas. Nine years after its inception, central government cut funding to most school-based community education and subsequently cut non-vocational courses at polytechnics and Universities, which made the community education course delivery route for Sustainable Living unviable at many high schools. The Trust had to re-invent its programme, and looked internationally for relevant experience. The new method chosen is web-delivered, supporting self-help learning groups at low cost.

The current partner councils are listed, along with their area's most useful web links, on our local pages, where you will find a gateway into the Learning Guide download area: simply register once to get local password access.  More council partners are welcome, to extend our coverage.  Contact the National Coordinator Rhys Taylor on 03 6938726 to discuss this, especially if you are a councillor or council staff member keen to see your Council get involved. Annual subscription cost for councils is modest and is related to population size, to keep it affordable  in rural areas.

Why is getting involved important?  A major change in gobal energy sources, pollution impacts and non-renewable resource use is essential in the near future to live within global temperature-rise limits (as agreed at the Paris UN Climate Summit) and not wreck the planet's life support systems. For a thoughtful NZ view on this listen to the Wise Response team speaking on Radio NZ, calling for a 'risk assessment'. In 2018 the New Zealand Government is responding with a draft Climate Change Bill.

Sustainable Living Education Trust, NZ registered charity CC37224, manages the programme for the partner councils.

If you'd like to support our work as an individual, note that donations over $5 are tax deductable, receipted (unless anonymous) and always welcome. If using a cheque, write to SLET at PO Box 58 Geraldine 7956.  We have a Give-a-Little website page for donation by credit card. The Trust would also be interested in receiving bequests and legacies as sources of strong, independent core funding, longer-term. We are not currently central government funded and do not take commercial advertising.

Tip: Power bills out of control?
Actions and equipment that can reduce electricity costs at home are the focus of our Energy guide.

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