Green Renters is a not for profit charity that helps renters in Australia gain much needed information, education and assistance with sustainability in rental accommodation. The brain child of Cate Lawrence and Chris Ward, Green Renters works with people in all rental markets including standard rental, social housing and rooming houses through practical solutions and support.
Focusing on empowering the renter through workshops, campaigns, information and advice, Green Renters takes ownership away from body corporate and owners and gives renters the tools they need to help green their rental experience. The idea for Green Renters came from a very simple yet common place occurrence- personal need.
“We were renting a 120 year old property and we became very aware we needed to do something to save money on our energy bills as well as our energy consumption for the planet. We went to a green living expo and there was nothing for renters. No one cared if you couldn’t buy the big, permanent products and solutions associated with home ownership. We looked around and couldn’t see anyone else doing anything so we started a blog. We got a huge amount of interest. So much interest we were amazed at just how many people wanted the same things we did. People were asking for workshops, for help and solutions and facing the same problems we were. So we got incorporated, we set up a board and started doing the first real research into the needs of green renters and devising ways we could give them tangible solutions and support their green renting journey,” explains Cate.
Green Renters comes from a place of understanding the frustrations attached to budget, the delicate balance between respecting the owners wishes in regards to property and the desire for the renter to live sustainability. From teaching people how to insulate their rentals through sealing cracks and gaps, helping with advice on what home heating and cooling products to buy, how to save money on utilities and even helping with practical ways to reduce food wastage in the home, Green Renters has come a long way from their early blog days. They’ve run countless workshops, shown people how to preserve food, make their own green house cleaning products and run an expo for social housing to help people with practical advice on how to save money and truly enjoy and have fun with their homes by adding their own personal stamp. They’ve also run an Green Renters International Student Sustainability challenge and projects within a range of inner city rooming houses. Such dedication has seen them become a national programme and the recipient of the 2011 WWF Earth Hour Education Award.
Operating on small grants, a percentage of the workshop fees and through public donation and membership, Green Renters is very much a people power organisation that does a lot with very little. Volunteers help carry the Green Renters message across the country and the team make use of every day tools such as Skype and file sharing clouds to stay connected and social media to stay in contact with members. Still the interest keeps coming as people from the USA, UK and Europe seek out Green Renters for advice, leadership and a way to make their rental lives sustainable.
“30% of people in Australia rent, with 70% of our major cities being made up by renters. Yet renters often feel unwelcome in green building culture and home sustainability, and feel as though they are on the outside looking in. It’s an area where cost matters because making major improvements to a rental property just isn’t feasible financially or due to the permanent nature of most solutions. Or they worry about push back from the property owners or real estate and so on. Our aim is to skill people up so they can make a change for themselves in a low cost, effective, tangible and positive way. We want to give people tangible outcomes, practical ways to take action and tempt those who have not considered green renting before to consider it as a viable option,” said Cate.
To find out how you can green up your renting experience, or if you would like to support Green Renters through a donation of time, money or resources, head to http://www.greenrenters.org