How did I get my family on board for a low-waste lifestyle? Honestly, I am still working on it. Like I always say, green living is an ongoing process.
I remember the look on my husband’s face when I announced I wanted to live green. He looked at me skeptically and said, “What do you mean live green? Do you mean sell our house, move to the countryside, get a farm, and grow our own food?” I explained my definition of “living green” as living more eco-responsibly, making small changes in our daily lives, and making better decisions when buying things. He was reassured and looked at his phone, relieved to know he would get to hold onto it.
I know my personal story is not unique. When we decide to change our habits and our lifestyle, it takes time for everybody involved: our spouse or partner, kids, and friends.
After researching tips from several groups of “zero-wasters” in the area, I gathered ten ways for you to get your family on board for living a greener life. First, breathe, relax, and keep your self-control. You know why you have decided to go on this path, and your goal is not to force anybody.
- Focus on your own journey. Start to make changes in your personal journey first. You can do things like adopt a clean diet or focus on your personal care products — nothing that involves your spouse or kids.
- Talk about each other’s needs. It is important to get the big picture of where everyone is in life and where they want to go. Draw some boundaries. Listen. Be patient. Compromise when needed.
- Lead by example. This one works well with kids. People in general, especially kids, are influenced by our behavior. By showing them an example, they learn how to do things themselves that can become a long-lasting habit. If they see you can do it, they know they can do it, too.
- Educate your family. Share articles, numbers, and choose your battles. Have a conversation about environmental issues. A good way to grow awareness can be setting up a family movie night and watching a documentary about pollution, waste, or animals.
- Buy green gifts. Instead of convincing your family with words, gift them with simple green-living alternative items like a reusable bottle, a set of beeswax food wraps, or a sustainable sourced T-shirt.
- Make low-waste living fun. Take on a challenge together; a weekday with no meat, a week without a straw, a month without plastic, a trash audit. Make the challenge fun and reward the team along the way.
- Start small but start somewhere. Replace one thing at a time. Make changes that don’t create extra work. Make it easy, convenient, and on budget. Baby steps get us to form new habits.
- Mention the benefits. List the benefits of living a low-waste lifestyle and note your wins, no matter how small.
- Remember, there is no place for lectures, shame, or judgment. Green living is a personal choice, we cannot force it, and we definitely cannot judge it or compare our journey to someone else’s.
- Just do your best.
Aline Bloch is the owner of Aline’s Cardboard and Out of the Box Eco-Store and a Central Park resident.
Photo: Aline with her husband and three children. Photo provided by Aline Bloch.