Thursday, March 10, 2011

What To Do If Your Husband or Boyfriend Isn't Green ( Eco-friendly )

Perhaps you have noble aspirations to simplify your life and care for this small planet. You want future and present generations to be able to enjoy nature, breathe fresh air and experience life as we know it today (or yesterday).

But your husband or boyfriend doesn't share these lofty ideals and feels that you are out there with nutty tree huggers or people who believe in UFOs.

My husband (and kids) love long hot showers, new sports cars, eating red meat, vacations, fast food, shopping (Walmart, Costco or upscale malls), expensive stuff, etc. My husband thinks buying anything organic, natural or sustainable is a waste of money and he refuses to put items in the recycle bin. He rolls his eyes when I bring my reusable shopping bags to the grocery store. He likes going out, I like staying home. I like thrift stores and walking in warm weather, he would rather drive. I like small homes or apartments, he likes big houses. I had ideas of rearing our children without TV, he loves to buy them new video games/systems and DVDs.

Over the past few years I have devoured books on simple living; such as The Plain Reader: Essays on Making a Simple Life by Scott Savage and The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs.

But I found that these romantic notions of simple and eco-friendly living are not very fun when you don't have any support. The book, The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices by Michael Brower and Warren Leon helped me pick my battles better. This book told things straight up what actions to take that would make the most difference and to let the other stuff go.

Still, I had to learn that relationships come first. There has to be compromise. I had to soften my approach. I had to accept that perhaps my strict adherence to these principles was making me judgemental, stiff and hard to get along with.

So this is how we do it:

This summer my husband wanted us both to buy new cars, I said no thank you. I will drive our used car and he will buy a new car.

I picked out the small home we are moving in to this summer. It was too small for him and too many bathrooms for me. Thus the compromise.

We both agree on the importance of computer technology. No issues there. I avoid phones and don't own a cell phone and he makes sure to answer every call.

I stay home during the day as much as possible and he drives wherever he wants. I choose to work less/spend less. He chooses to work more/spend more.

I use my money towards charities, books, art, music, thrift store or organic fashion, and environment-friendly products. He uses his extra money on whatever he wants (new clothes, vacations, gifts, eating out, etc.).

When I make dinner I either make very simple, healthy vegetarian meals or meals flavored with a little turkey. When he (or the kids) make dinner they can make whatever they want (red meat, ice cream, cake). On the other days when we eat out I choose to eat at a sit down place (preferably one with organic food) and he (or the kids) often choose fast food. At the restaurant I can order vegetarian or low meat and they can choose hamburgers or tacos, etc.

I have home-schooled my kids off and on as circumstances dictated. At first my husband was strongly opposed to this, but he eventually gave in and realized that our kids would be fine.

My husband is not a big fan of gardening. I have tried it a few times and have not produced much. I have also not been successful with line drying our clothes. We are currently living on the top floor of an apartment building so this is part of the problem. In the future I may only line dry my clothes because everyone else complains that they don't like the stiffness.

I try to simplify our home by donating things to the thrift store (trash, clutter and plastic bags are the bane of my existence). My husband likes to refill it with shopping. I don't like to shop, so at Christmas time he buys the whole thing and I don't have to worry about it. He also wraps everything himself. I think it is exciting for him.

He likes to watch movies or TV every evening. I like to read books, blogs or write. But once in a while I will watch a movie with him so we can spend time together.

I prefer to clean my own house and he prefers to not clean it (hire out), but he agrees that if I want to do it then that is O.K. as long as he doesn't have to do it. Once in a while, on a rare occasion he will join me in getting the whole family to clean the house together (my favorite).

What we both like: He likes homes with environmentally-friendly features such as solar paneling. He likes the idea that the home would still function if there was a power outage or if society collapsed. We both agree that living as close to work as possible is important.

Other things that I can do: install efficient lighting in our home, make plans for local travel (rather than flying), walk or bike when practical, buy organic food at the supermarket, consume less, buy low-flow shower heads and sink aerators, do things slowly- one thing at a time, realize that I can't do it all and enjoy what I am doing, lighten up, relax, enjoy family, friends, nature, spirituality, art, health, don't shrink from hard work, savor beauty, participate in community activities, and be creative in spending less money.

What do you do?


DrFlynnDMD said...

We are rather spoiled in this world, everything at our fingertips, excesse and abundance. Manufactures design everything to fail so we have to go out and buy another one. There is so much waste. That being said, I feel like a single ant in this world. Just because I get out of line what real difference does it make? There are billions of other ants still in line following each other. I think there are a lot of 'green things' that can be done, that in the end will not make much of a difference. For me, I recycle and try not to waste. I think we can all do better.

jeneflower said...

I'm under no illusion that the little things I do by themselves are going to make a difference. Its not really about that for me. Its about the kind of simple, healthy lifestyle I like. Its about not feeling guilty for contributing to the problems in the world. Its kind of like when a vegetarian looks at a big piece of raw meat- it just makes them feel sick. Its kind of like that, but at the same time being judgemental or having a total rigid adherence to anything can make you lose perspective of what is more important: people. I really believe that government regulation is the only thing that will make a difference in the long run.

sandra said...

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Anonymous said...

Hi there, I found you by googling "my boyfriend doesn't care about the environment as much as me" hahaha and I'm glad I came across you. I needed to hear how to compromise. I can't make him care that way I do but we can compromise on things that affect me.It's hard because I spend a lot of time at his house and I do cringe when I see his laundry detergent with all the dyes and perfumes and the kitchen spray for the counter. The idea of maybe living together one day scares me because I won't want him using air fresheners and harsh cleaning products in my house. I feel like he'll run away screaming at my pickiness.

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