About The Sustainable Living Programme

Learning future living skills

This Aotearoa NZ-based 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 become healthier too. Think of it as learning future living skills, relevant at any stage in life.

The charitable trust is managed from Canterbury for over a dozen 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), freelancer Natalie Hormann who has tutored for Upper Hutt City and Masterton,  and Eion Scott who is a former Eco Design Advisor for Auckland Council, now working for the Green Building Council. The National Coordinator, Rhys Taylor, is also an experienced Future Living Skills tutor in Canterbury. He's a qualified community educator with a Lincoln Uni Masters degree in natural resource management.

From reading the eight Learning Guides, (or if available locally, by attending a one-term tutored series or intensive weekend), you will 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.  The learning guides are published in PDF format, ready to print or to view on a computer screen. All the topics have a practical focus, and are independent of commercial bias as there's no advertising within the materials. Local and central government support makes this possible.

Interested?  Register your address now on this site (free in NZ), to get download access and 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 see local information. The  cumulative registration numbers by district and city appear on our map page

The programme has been devised and supported by a consortium of local councils, to share costs and knowledge. Further councils join from 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, Matamata-Piako and Kapiti Coast joined us. Nelson City joined alongside Tasman from 2018 snd ar4 expected to rejoin in 2019-2020. Thames Coromandel and Chatham Islands joined in 2019. Established members include: Christchurch, Waimakariri, Timaru, Dunedin and Kaikoura.  Auckland, Hutt City, Invercargill, Hamilton, centeal Otago and New Plymouth Council memberships have lapsed (but do make contact please if you live there and wish to help get these Councils 'back in' after July 2019, as we continue to get individual registrations from each of their geographic areas).

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, at Christchurch City Council.

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Programme delivery

The Sustainable Living programme originally ran as an evening class series 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, Dunedin, Timaru and Marsterton Districts) we find likely users are increasingly web-savvy and 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. 

By 2018 the Trust's experts had re-written our education materials ready for this group learning approach to 'future living skills', so thanks to suppport in 2019 from the Waste Minimisation Fund at Ministry for the Environment plus continuing Council membership subscriptions we can offer the learning guides free via a downloads area on this website - to get access you simply register once on this site.  (link is also available at the top of your district or city gateway page ). 

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The learning makes a difference, research has confirmed

Our evening course participant questionnaires showed that adults learning in a group and the original 'Sustainable Living' evening course content 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 co-authored by Taylor & Allen) and summarised in an independent NZ Landcare Research publication Hatched (see Chapter 16)

Brochure available as print-quality PDF from the National Coordinator in 2019.  I can be produced in district editions for member councils. The second side describes the programme, summarising info from the website. Make contact if you'd like to republish it locally.

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The programme partners and supporters - a brief history

This charitable  'education for action' programme has been developed across New Zealand since 2001 by local Councils. It was thought up by staff from Marlborough District and Christchurch City, developed with six others, backed originally by a Ministry for the Environment three year development 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 and colleges. 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, reduction of pollution impacts and zero waste of non-renewable resources is essential in the near future to live within global temperature-rise limits (as agreed at the Paris UN Climate Summit) and to not wreck the planet's life support systems with our wastes. For a thoughtful NZ view on this, listen to the Wise Response team speaking on Radio NZ, calling for a 'risk assessment'. In 2019 the New Zealand Government is responding with a draft Climate Change Bill and taking initiatives on waste minimisation.

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 do not accept commercial advertising.

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