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 and Auckland for 14+ partner regional, city and district councils across NZ.

From the 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 reduce your weekly waste. Six other topics include travel options to reduce carbon footprint, organic gardening, water saving, food shopping options, reducing your power bill, 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.

Interested? Then read more on this introductory PDF download and register on this site, to get occasional newsletter alerts by email. Occasional newsletters appear on our News page - see tab above.


Visit our districts page first, to find out if your local council is taking part in Sustainable Living and if it is a subscriber, you can register to download the Learning Guides free of charge in 2016-2017.  These are in PDF format, ready to print or to view on-screen.

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: the 2015 additions were New Plymouth, Hamilton, Kaikoura and Waitaki, and in 2016 Tasman and the Wairarapa group of councils (led by Masterton).

Council and media enquiries welcomed - information for the media is here . You can contact the National Coordinator, Rhys Taylor ph: 03 6938726  rhys@sustainableliving.org.nz or 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. Whilst these still run in some areas (for example in Hamilton City, Hutt City, and Timaru District) we find many of the likely users are web-savvy folk these days 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 the Trust's experts have re-written our education materials ready for this group learning approach to 'future living skills', and  offer them free to residents in the participating districts - to get access you simply register once through your district or city gateway page on this site. Six topics are completed and two in final edit by Christmas - meanwhile previous editions are still available so all 8 topics are still covered.

Not all districts across NZ are members of the programme, so if you have checked there and find your locality is not yet covered, there is a second option of paying $39 to use the materials for nine months, as an individual subscriber. To request this and arrange payment, email rhys@sustainableliving.org.nz

The learning makes a difference, says research

Our early course participant questionnaires showed that the group learning process and 'Sustainable Living' evening course content has made a difference in their lives and that the programme also compares well with international good practice. Peer reviewed research papers are published independently on the web, in Innovation Journal 2008 and NZSSES Conference Proceedings 2007 (papers by Taylor & Allen) and summarised in a more recent NZ Landcare Research publication Hatched (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 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 at your local council's page to get local password access.  More council partners are welcome, to extend our coverage.  Contact the National Coordinator 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 is modest and is related to population size.

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 climate limits 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'.

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: Home grown and spray free!
Learn some basics of organic gardening, for healthy food at home, in our Gardening guide.

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