Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Family Arguments Go Green

When I read "Therapists Report Increase in Green Disputes" in the New York Times, it made me smile. Anyone who has embarked on a we-should-be-a-little-greener-at-home campaign, has probably encountered some variation of this...

"Why did you get the groceries in plastic bags? I gave you several reusable bags last week. Why can't you use those?"

"Can't we just eat some normal food?"

"Why do you keep putting bottlecaps in the recycling? You know it's only the bottle that's recyclable!"

"You're not going to buy that, are you?"

"Why does everything have to be so complicated?!?"

The fact is that many of the things we did just a few years ago now seem extremely offensive to some of us. Nine years ago when I lived in Nebraska, I recycled nothing. I tried for a while to drive our recyclables to the plant, since there was no curbside recycling service, but with sub-zero temps and an infant son, it just didn't work so I through in the towel - and all those recyclables just went to a landfill. Before that, I worked at Microsoft and guzzled Talking Rain plastic bottles all day long because... I don't know why... because they were free?

Today, I recycle everything and try to find ways to bring less into the home. I'm experimenting with buying and cooking local. We're all trying to make changes, but what if your spouse isn't on board?

Just as in everything else, I think you need to pick your battles wisely. I've found that leading by example or taking responsibility for it entirely works WAY better than discussing. Examples:

* If I want to recycle the shampoo bottles or toilet paper rolls from the upstairs wastebaskets, I do it myself. My husband takes out the garbage Sunday night and usually doesn't seem to be in a "sort the bathroom garbage" kind of mood.
*If I want less mail, I take care of it. I signed up for GreenDimes to get rid of the junk mail, converted to online billpay, etc.
* I've been slowly trying to convert to more organic, more local meats, but my husband had an issue with one particular store brand because he feels they are always in the news for food safety issues. Fine, I don't buy that brand anymore, but I didn't give up. I'm picking up my fresh, local beef later today and that's something he can get excited about. It's rubbing off in other areas too and I'm noticing he's buying more organic and local foods. A few days ago, he bought a can of organic Great Northern beans for our chili and was happily surprised to see that they didn't come with the "slime" we always wash off from the ones we used to get. That convinces him way more than me badgering him about buying organic.

For larger purchases like appliances (water heater, washer/dryer), I research the options and have been able to convince him that the more energy efficient ones are the better long-term purchases.

What about you? What are the "green battles" in your house? Is it with your spouse or your children? How do you solve them?


  1. Comment from Lisa via email:

    The Never ending "TURN OFF THE LIGHTS" when you leave a room!

  2. My husband uses way too many Ziplocs!

  3. Ah, yes... The eternal Ziploc baggie argument. We have endless amounts of Tupperware (which I realize is plastic, but I already have it so I'm not tossing it). What's wrong with all those cute little containers?