Since we were kids, we’ve constantly been told to share. Home-sharing – and to a degree, Airbnb – is the ultimate form of sharing and home-swapping is the purest type of sharing out there. They’re both wonderful ways to involve yourself in the sharing economy.

But it’s even more than that: home-sharing is also a gift. You’re giving and receiving a unique experience to live like a local in another person’s shoes. That gift is one of the most personal, and oldest, gifts you can give – you’re opening your home and your life to another, putting your trust in them.

Home-sharing is also one of the most sustainable ways to travel; rather than staying in a hotel, you’re staying in a home or room that would otherwise be empty. You’re joining a community where conserving, protecting and enjoying the environment all come as standard.

Whatever type of home-sharing you’re doing, home-swapping or hosting on Airbnb, you can create a happy and sustainable experience for your guests. As a home-sharing guru, I’ve had plenty of practice – so here are five easy ways to do just that:

1. Clear, simple, straightforward home instructions are a must

If you’re not going to be there, your guests will need to know how to get by in your home. Think recycling (see point 3) or finding the key (tip: ask a neighbour to meet and greet them for you). Leave the essentials available too: milk, bread, tea, coffee and a homemade lasagna are the perfect ingredients to ensure a smooth start to their stay. eco home share

2. Monitor your energy use

Ask your guests to help by switching off lights when they’re not needed, closing windows when the heating is switched on, filling the kettle only as far as needed and only switching on the dishwasher when it’s full. Make sure your appliances (which will be working harder than usual) are A-rated and BuyMeOnce recommended.

3. Recycle or compost everything you can and encourage your guests to help with this

Make sure everything is clearly signposted as guests from other areas of the USA or from abroad may have different recycling systems and containers/bins in their homes. If they’re not sure where something should go, let them know it’s fine to just leave out packaging, paper, cans, glass or plastics and you’ll take care of it.

4. Buy durable supplies

Seasoned hosts will have a lot more people passing through their home than average. Having durable items in your property makes sense from a practical point of view and a sustainable one. Use BuyMeOnce’s shopping guides for the best built-to-last kitchen and homeware and your home will become the ultimate sustainable hotel experience. And you won’t need to keep replacing things… eco home share5. Plan for the worst

Not every stay goes as anticipated, but that’s just life. It’s really important you’ve put proper insurance in place that covers you in case the worst happens, such as a guest having an accident in your home. It’s worth bearing in mind that most home insurers won’t cover risks associated with home-sharing and some might even suspend all cover when your guests are there.