Articles | Sustainability

Creating Healthier Homes in the Bay Of Plenty

Tuesday, 24 January 2023
By Karen Richter

Did you know that drying your clothes inside the house can add up to 5 litres of moisture in the air? Or that sleeping in temperatures below 16 C can affect the respiratory system. Anything below 12 C starts affecting heart function, because your blood thickens and is harder to pump, which puts more strain on the heart.

These are just two of the things you’ll learn when you attend a 20 Degrees healthy housing workshop with Bay of Plenty’s Sustainability Options. Passionate advocates of sustainable living, their team is on a mission to “advocate, promote and engage as many people as possible in ethical and sustainable living solutions”. We all know that damp homes, overcrowding and unacceptable housing conditions are the grim reality for thousands of Kiwi families – but Sustainability Options is on a quest to change that. And since 2019 Winstone Wallboards has been helping them.

As one of the proud partners of their 20 Degrees programme, we’re helping tackle one of the Bay of Plenty’s biggest problems – the serious impact substandard housing is having on people’s health. The 20 Degrees programme undertakes home assessments and addresses the issues preventing houses from reaching 20 degrees (the temperature the World Health Organisation recommends for those who are vulnerable, unwell and prone to respiratory illnesses). By supplying lining material to repair or line walls, we’re one of the many funders, agencies and businesses playing our part in making a difference.

When Sustainability Options approached Winstone Wallboards three years ago supporting them was an easy decision as their values align closely with our mission to create healthier homes. Earlier this month I headed south to check out their work first-hand – and came home deeply moved, uplifted and inspired.

Sustainability Options Co-founder Phil Gregg and Lee Siegle the Project Coordinator took me to meet some of those who have benefitted from the programme, which was incredibly humbling. One lady told me she’d been living in her house since childhood and it had always been cold. Now a grandmother, she worried about her grandchildren’s health, but thanks to 20 Degrees she was able to replace the mouldy walls, insulate the ceiling space and create a warm healthy home for her family. As I watched her beam from ear to ear it hit home to me just how powerful the programme is.

Another mum I met was overwhelmed by the poor state of her home, but after picking up some great tips and tools at a 20 Degrees workshop, she’d been able to make life-altering changes. Sustainability Options supported her every step of the way and after replacing the broken floor, mouldy ceiling and walls in her bathroom, she felt empowered to tackle the rotting conservatory floor. She was so proud that she could actually do something herself and when I visited had already pulled up the carpet to prepare for the builders’ arrival!

Witnessing these transformations was pretty emotional. Seeing how grateful people were to have some encouragement and a helping hand, and seeing the pride they developed as a result. Sometimes life just happens, and it’s not always pretty. People might suffer a major health issue or lose their job and suddenly the wheels come loose. It doesn’t take much for someone to suddenly need a helping hand to get back on their feet.

Winstone Wallboards, and I personally, greatly admire the work Sustainability Options is doing and feel proud to be contributing to their journey. But as Phil Gregg points out there’s a lot more work to do.

He says, “There is a long way to go with 29,000 homes, in the Bay of Plenty alone, still in a state where it is unhealthy for people to live in”. That’s why Sustainability Options is calling out for other Kiwi businesses to get on board and support them in their endeavours. Think you can help? Their contact details are below. And remember, regardless of how large or small your contribution may be, every little bit helps in supporting our communities to live in healthier homes.



Phil Gregg: 027 496 0995