Crunchy CoupleNow that we’ve adopted a crunchier lifestyle, I’m often asked by my girlfriends just how I got Carl on board with “going green”.  I have to admit that I don’t have any special powers of persuasion.  Carl just happens to be as concerned about his contribution to the world as I am.  Plus, he can’t resist a good project.

Still, I do have some thoughts on the subject because I think that the crunchy lifestyle is sort of addictive.  Once you start, you just feel so good – physically, mentally and spiritually, that you can’t stop.  For us, we had this nagging feeling that we just weren’t trying hard enough to make the world a better place for our children.  I would often lose sleep over it – concerned that global warming or toxic chemicals or landfills might make the world inhabitable in my kids’ lifetime – or even mine.  Initially, these things played only in the back of mind, but they eventually fought their way into consciousness until The Goodness Challenge was born.  And once we started, we just couldn’t stop.

So, I am a big believer in just starting.  If you’re having trouble starting because your hubby or wife doesn’t share your concerns, here are some suggestions in terms of approach.

  1. Go slow.  For us, becoming crunchy didn’t just start one day.  We inched towards crunchiness week by week as part of The Goodness Challenge.  Instead of saying something daunting like “let’s try to neutralize our carbon footprint”, we just  started on our journey.  And this journey continues today as we make improvements week after week.  (And yes, we occasionally take a step back and adjust.)  Carl and I started with “let’s figure out what we’re supporting when we buy our groceries”, but you could try whatever’s nearest to you family’s heart.  For instance, you could try to be a one car family.  Or you could attempt to buy local.  Or meditate.  Or stop eating meat on certain days.  The possibilities are endless.
  2. Set an evaluation period.  One thing that really helped us overcome the mental hurdle was limiting each challenge to a week.  At the end of the week, we made a collective decision to either move forward or not.  In most cases, we decided to keep going because the pay-offs were so high.  Still, it helped to not think of the changes as “forever” at the onset.
  3. Pick the things that matter to your spouse first.  If you want to get your honey hooked, pick something that interests him or her as your first change.  For example, you may be itching to grow your own veggies, but your spouse wants to start with supporting community agriculture first.  Let him or her go first.  As I mentioned, the path to crunchy is a slippery slope.  You’ll get your turn once you start building momentum.
  4. Map out a schedule.  If your significant other is not diametrically opposed to change, he or she may do better with a plan and clear expectations.  You can map in a review period at the end of each week where you can both evaluate if the change was worth it.  If he or she deems that it wasn’t, be willing to consider more palatable alternatives.  For example, if dropping off recycling is too hard, can you get a service?  Can you get a bigger bin and store it up longer?  Can you pick certain things and let others go?  Some change is better than no change.
  5. Talk specific facts.  I don’t know about your significant other, but Carl responds best to facts.  After all, there are sound arguments both for and against global warming – and we’re just starting to understand the impacts of chemical and genetically modified organisms on our health.  Not everyone is willing to adopt a greener lifestyle based on early warning signs.  So, if you’re looking for a reason to move from one way of living to another, talk specific facts and avoid the larger arguments.  Not everything has to be about global warming or safe agriculture.  For example, you could start with “Let’s stop buying plastic.  BPA has been proven to cause reproductive health issues in children – even with limited exposure.  Let’s try cutting it out this week and see how hard it is.”  You don’t have to get into how plastic is filling up the landfills and leaching toxic chemicals into the ocean.
  6. Talk money.  Nothing gets Carl moving like money.  Most people think of being crunchy as a really expensive exercise – buying organic, using stainless steel everything, etc.  In actuality, living green may be as cheap or cheaper than your current lifestyle.  Here are some examples of things that save money: Eating less meatBuying local and seasonal.  Not buying extra stuff.  Reducing driving.  So, if you’re looking to get your partner on board with sharing a car, talk about the money you’ll save.  (If you’re interested in the affordability of eating organic, check out Organic and Affordable?)
  7. Talk health.  If money doesn’t do it, then perhaps health will be a good motivator for your significant other.  Rather than saving gas money, you may suggest walking to work for exercise.  You may cut back on meat and processed foods for health reasons.  If you have a health-conscious spouse, it probably won’t take long to become crunchy as green and healthy go hand in hand.  We honestly didn’t realize this until we started making positive changes, but, in general, green = healthy.
  8. Talk weight loss.  Maybe your spouse isn’t a fitness buff, but just wants to lose a few pounds.  If you remove meat, cut out processed foods or cut back on processed sugar, you’re sure to be fit and trim before long.  Carl and I both made these changes in an effort to be better to the Earth, but the changes certainly reflected in our bodies.  I’m currently running about 5 lbs lighter than my typical average weight and Carl has dropped about 25 lbs since we started Tales of Goodness a year ago.  No diet.  Just healthy lifestyle changes.
  9. Reduce, reuse, recycle.  One of the biggest ways you can help the planet is to stop buying stuff.  Not just packaging, but also just stuff you don’t need.  (It’s also the easiest way to save money.)  Do you really need 20 pairs of athletic socks?  No?  Then leave them on the shelf.  Do the kids really need another plastic doll?  No, then why not go home and make some play dough instead?  It costs only pennies, has no waste, and the experience of making your own is both educational and rewarding.
  10. Get the kids involved.  I hate to play this card, but nothing helps us make positive changes in our lives more than trying to teach our children.  I thought of this last week as I watched my mom valiantly talk about how the spider would help eat the bugs in her garden – while inwardly cringing.  If my daughter had not been there, she would have run.  Similarly, nothing makes me recycle more than “Mama, THAT doesn’t go in the garbage.”
  11. Communicate your feelings.  If none of these reasons hold any weight with your spouse, perhaps your own feelings on the subject will?  Be open and honest about how you feel.  See if there is a way he or she could support you through this change without fully believing in it.
  12. Change what you can.  Carl and I try to do everything as a team.  We make most decisions together.  But, sometimes we just don’t agree.  What happens then?  Well, if it impacts our kids or family life, we work it out.  For the things that impact just us, we make our own decisions.  It certainly is easier to go green with the help of your hubby or wife, but there are places to start on your own.  For example, you could begin by responsibly sourcing the things you buy, cutting back on your own meat consumption or starting a meditation practice.  Your spouse may come around.  Or he or she may not.  Either way, you’ll be sleeping better at night.

So there it is.  I hope this helps all of my girlfriends and even a few stragglers get going on the road to green.  I’d love to hear if any of these worked for you – or any other ideas, so please keep me posted on how you’re doing.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Just a small town mom trying to make the world a better place for my kids. One small change at a time.

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