About The Sustainable Living Programme

Learning about sustainable living

The Sustainable Living programme is a practical, fun way to learn and try out actions to reduce your environmental impact at home, here in New Zealand. It’s an opportunity to 'make a difference for the planet' and maybe save on living costs and be healthier also. Think of it as future living skills.

The charitable trust is managed from Canterbury and Auckland for the growing list of partner regional, city and district councils across NZ.

From the group Learning Guides, (or if available locally, from a taught evening series), find out what could make your house a healthier, warmer place, and how you can reduce your weekly waste. Six other topics include transport options to reduce carbon footprint, organic gardening, water saving, food shopping, reducing your power bill, eco-building design and community resilience. All topics are examined with a practical focus, and it is independent of commercial pressures - there's no advertising within the materials.

Interested? Then read more on this introductory PDF download and register, to get occasional newsletter alerts by email.


Visit our districts page to find out if your local council is taking part in Sustainable Living - if it is, you can register to download the Learning Guides, once published, free of charge in 2014. These are PDFs 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 are joining from mid-2014 (Wellington and Invercargill) to expand our coverage.

Council and media enquiries welcomed - information for editors is here  You can contact the National Coordinator, Rhys Taylor ph: 03 6938726  rhys (at) sustainableliving.org.nz or the Trust chair: Eion.Scott (at) aucklandcouncil.govt.nz   Eion is also Eco-Design Advisor for the Council in Auckland.

Programme delivery

The Sustainable Living programme previously ran as an evening class series and through single-topic workshops - thousands have taken part in a decade, across NZ. Whilst a few courses still run regularly (for example in Dunedin City, 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 share with friends, neighbours or workmates in a learning group. Transition Town groups and Environment Centres have been early users of this approach.

During 2014 the Trust's experts are re-writing our education materials ready for this group learning approach to 'future living skills', and will offer them free to residents in the participating districts - to get access you simply register through your district or city gateway page on this site.

Not all districts are yet members of the programme, so if you have checked there and find your locality is not yet covered, there will be a second option announced later in 2104, of paying to use the materials, as an individual subscriber.

We make a difference, says research

Our early course participant questionnaires showed that the group learning process and 'Sustainable Living' course content has made a difference in their lives and 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 (paper 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 evening class delivery method spread, it reached 25 council areas, including seven of the original eight councils. (Hamilton City set up a local version based on publications and newsletters, but without classes.) 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.

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 at your local council's page.  More council partners would also be 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 based on 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 and 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 (no fee charged thanks to Telecom Foundation sponsorship - all the donation goes to the charity). The Trust would also be interested in receiving bequests and legacies as sources of strong, independent core funding, longer-term.

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