Editor’s note: We’re excited to welcome Diane Hoffmaster as a new guest blogger! A Lilburn resident, Diane is the creator of Turning the Clock Back, a popular blog about eco-living. She’s kicking off her blog series for Gwinnett Recycles with a hot topic — how to persuade your spouse to join you on your journey to sustainability.
So, you’ve decided to start living more sustainably. Good for you! But how do you get your spouse or significant other onboard with your efforts to garden, recycle, and reduce your carbon footprint?
Living more sustainably is a wonderful life choice, however, it is one that requires a bit of time and commitment to make. Stop fighting with your partner over going green with these simple tips.
Start with small changes, first.
If you want to entice your recalcitrant spouse into living a greener life, don’t suggest you live off grid right out of the gate. Small changes to your daily lives will be much more well received.
Try making one small change a week to get your partner excited about living more sustainably. Or, even if they aren’t excited, you want them to not dig in their heels and fight you ever step of the way. What small changes can you make? Join the Meatless Monday revolution for one meatless day per week rather than going full on vegan. Bring home some indoor potted herbs and skip the store-bought ones to create less waste. Or swap out your normal dish soap for the store brand organic one.
Find one sustainable lifestyle change to incorporate into your daily life that doesn’t upset the status quo of daily living too much.
Keep the lines of communication open.
All successful relationships require communication. Talk about the issues! Discuss the climate crisis, plastic pollution, and the environmental concerns surrounding conventional farming.
However, try not to act all ‘doom and gloom’ about the state of our environment. Adopt a hopeful and encouraging tone and share your determination to make a difference through your own personal actions.
Remember, do not belittle your spouse for actions that may not be good for the environment. Instead, adopt an encouraging tone that nudges them forward on the path to green living.
Find what motivates them.
No, I’m not encouraging you to make sticker charts or trade sex for recycling. But, everyone has issues that they are passionate about.
Is your spouse a dedicated fitness buff? Try discussing the benefit of organic food or eating less meat. If they are a total foodie, reduce plastic waste (and eat healthier) by making your own sauces and salad dressing. If your partner loves being outdoors, try growing your own food or planting a butterfly garden. And if money is a motivating factor, teach them how to go green and save money at the same time.
Remember, on your road to green living, getting your partner on board with sustainability may require a bit of enticement. Changing old habits isn’t always easy!
Throw in a bit of a challenge.
Does your relationship need a little bit of healthy competition? Turn going green into a game of sorts. Set up a recycling and trash area with score cards. Each item recycled earns a point. At the end of the week, winner gets bragging rights (or gets to choose the Friday night movie!). Turn your vegetarian dinner night into a cooking throwdown. Pick an obscure ingredient and see who can create the most delicious vegetarian dinner idea that week.
Get creative and find ways to turn your sustainability mission into a fun new lifestyle change.
Learn to compromise.
There are some aspects of your normal day to day life that your partner may just not want to change. Don’t fight them on it. Find other areas to focus on first.
Let your spouse keep his favorite soap. And please do not toss out his favorite tighty-whities and replace them with hemp boxer shorts. It will not end well.
Make sure you discuss changes ahead of time. Discuss which items are nonnegotiable when it comes to going green. Don’t nag… just encourage! Try new recipes, shop together. Approach your cleaning and decluttering together so you don’t get rid of his favorite book series by accident.
And if he DOES agree to thinning out the bookshelf, check out my article on what to do with old books to help you declutter sustainably.
Lead by example.
Sometimes, the best motivator is to see other’s living sustainably every single day. You can’t make someone else change their way of life. You can change YOU and only you.
Live your green life. Share your journey with your partner occasionally, but don’t preach it. If your partner sees you making changes, they may just join you. Or they may not.
Don’t force change or you will just create strife. Encourage subtly and lead by example for long lasting change without damaging your relationship.