How do I get my husband to go Green?

missmicaSeptember 11, 2008

I am wondering how do I get my hubby to go green? He grew up thinking that all things green were only done by people who are treehugging hippies who never shave there legs. While I grew up trying to make the world a better place than when I left it. I am starting out very slowly. We bought some CFL light bulbs, some eco-friendly cleaning products, and sorta started recycling, and I try to buy organic produce. I was wondering what other easy ideas I can do to be more eco-friendly and how do I get my hubby to not think I am crazy about doing this.

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jamie_mt(z4/5 MT)

I think the first thing *I* did was come to grips with the whole "he's gonna think I'm crazy" thing. Once I got used to that idea, the rest wasn't so hard. :-) Do reassure him that you'll still keep up with the leg hair thing (unless you plan not to, of course).

And I compromise too, picking my battles. But for the most part, once I point out that something either isn't going to cost us any more than we already spend, or is going to save us money, my husband is willing to at least give it a try. Convenience is the big thing with him...and I respect that. No, I don't expect him to use my tote bags when he's shopping alone (he brings home plastic)...but I do pull out my own bags when we're shopping together (he's used to it now).

Mostly, I just don't talk about it much - I just started doing it. Hubby was behind the CFL's all the way, since they are money savers. When I decided to start recycling, I had to talk it over with him because we have to pay to have a company come pick it up, otherwise we have to drive it around ourselves. I pointed out that it would cost more in gas and time for me to drive it around (not to mention I'm lazy, so it would sit around longer), than it would to pay for the company to pick it up, and I gave up a small "luxury" of my own to balance the cost. I didn't give him a choice on whether we *would* recycle or not (I deal with the trash in our house), just how it would get done. I think our conversation started with, "So, I've decided to start recycling..." ;-)

I don't force personal grooming decisions on him either. I might "forget" to buy his fave. soap so he has to try my natural stuff, but I still buy him the shampoo/conditioner he likes, regardless of what I'm using. I do all the cooking/kitchen maintenance, so it's easy for me to "green" that, and it was dicy with the laundry soap switch, but we compromised on Costco's new "green" line, so that's better, anyways.

Unfortunately, my husband hates the smell of vinegar (which I love to clean with), but there are "green" cleaning products out there that smell better, so I'm trying some of them. Another compromise, since I'd rather use vinegar. I found a highly concentrated dishwasher soap that works as well as Cascade to convince him that wouldn't cost anymore...he indulged me on that one. :-)

Go slow, but I think you might find he notices less than you think, and when he does, just ask if it's affected his personal lifestyle adversely? If not, no harm in continuing, right? :-)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 11:05AM
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If you can prove a decrease in your electric bill by switching to the green light bulbs, that might help to convince your husband to think about green alternatives.
Probably your best bet is to be a good example, and he will begin to go along with you over time. If you have the space for a little produce garden. Homegrown organic tomatoes and such might impress hubby. You could get a few reusable grocery bags. They don't break open and drop your purchases on the ground!

Slow changes, one step at a time, are a lot easier for most people to accept. Don't talk about the subject too much, so that he doesn't become annoyed and dig in his heels against thinking green.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 11:06AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Good advice above! As Lorna says, just be an example.

My first big thing was composting. (We've been recycling for years, so that is second nature.) He was hesitant because he was worried about attracting rodents, etc., so I bought a closed bin to start with. He does a lot of the cooking, and pretty much jumped right in on putting the food scraps in the bucket on the counter. After a few weeks, when he saw that we put out one small bag of garbage per week for a family of four, he was pretty much sold.

I do still have trouble reminding him not to throw paperboard in the trash, but I usually just go around behind him and take the boxes out to compost.

After several months of me using re-usable bags, he actually asked me to buy him a few. I almost fell over. He still forgets to take them out of his car and into the store, but that's okay. He'll get there. It took me awhile to remember too.

And I've also noticed that when he does the shopping, there are organic products in the bags. He sometimes moans and groans about the prices, but the items are still there, sitting on my counter, so that's a good thing!

He's not too big on water conservation, and he won't use buckets in the shower or the sink, and he still runs the water too much and too hard, but I'm hoping the fact that our oil bill almost doubled last month for the coming year will help him conserve, at least on the hot water. I find men react more to financial incentives, lol. Oh, and ocassionally if he has some water from cooking or rinsing food, he will ask if I need it in some flower pot before dumping it down the drain, so I guess every little bit helps.

Now, if I could only get him to shut off lights - or not even turn them on when the sun is shining - that would be great! But after almost 30 years, I'm not sure if I will ever win that battle, lol!


    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 3:13PM
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Sometimes it just takes time, sometimes you just have to do it, one step at a time. My husband grew up in a farming community, so in some ways it makes sense to him, but he also worked in an environment where "tree hugger" was an insult. So I bit my tongue on a lot of things, and just did my thing little by little.
I grew up in a state with a bottle deposit, and when I moved away, it just felt wrong to throw away a can, so we've always recycyled aluminum. Sometimes that annoyed him, but he dealt with it. My stepson liked it when he learned to drive - he dropped off the cans, he kept the money. Of course, we actually live somewhere with free curbside recycling, and now he's started drinking bottled beer instead of canned -(they don't take brown glass-_ but I've made progress other ways). Now he's ok with recycling everything that can be picked up. Cans, paper and plastic, though that really means he leaves some things on the counter or sink for me to deal with, but at least he's not blindly tossing things in the trash anymore.
I tried some green cleaning early on (we've been married almost 16 years now), baking soda, washing soda etc, but it wasn't working well for me all the time. We couldn't really afford the more expensive, more convenient green cleaners, so I used regular stuff for a long time. When we moved to a house that had a septic tank, a lot of that started to change. It's easier to switch, and maybe pay a little more when you can envision the chemicals going into the ground in your backyard. I started with toilet cleaner, moved on to dishsoap, then dishwasher detergent. Now I've progressed to laundry detergent and fabric softener. In our travel trailer, we now have biodegradable soaps and I clean with vinegar. Makes sense when you're out in the mountains.
Checking out the energy efficient stuff every year at the home shows helped. Money savings is a good incentive. We've used CFL's in most of our high use lighting for years. Not changing lightbulbs all the times was a huge help. I have had to give in on his reading lamp before, but it's a give & take. We haven't had to replace a furnace or anything like that yet, and the $$ will have to pencil out for me too, but he'd be very open to different options now.
We've also recently switched to re-usable shopping bags. No more being over-run with plastic bags. That was made easier (for both of us really) now that they are becoming more mainstream. When you don't feel like they'll look at you funny at the store, it's not too hard (as long as you remember to bring the bags of course). A few plastic bags are ok though, I use them to bag the recycling, and for trash bags in my bathrooms.
We are even creeping toward more organic foods. That may even be more him than me! Neither of us are strict on this one, but if the prices are fairly close, we'll go with the organic (I'm still too cheap to pay TOO much more).
All in all, I think it's a matter of time, and as being more green becomes more and more "normal" and seen as more sensible to more people, it won't just be those "#$%* treehuggers" anymore, and it will be easier to do.

Sometimes, he'll still shake his head and call you crazy though. Just smile, and keep doing it!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 1:10AM
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Ty for all your tips I have pretty much been trying to do all of those things. I use reusable bags, I have started only using the dryer to dry actual clothes not blankets or towels. I buy the organic or green products that I can at my grocery store. I am going to start making my own cleaning products next month. I have been setting my ac to about 76 or 77. I don't turn on lights unless I have to. I am trying to only buy things if I have to use them. I am recycling as much as I can. I still need to figure out what is recyclabe in Hawaii and where to take it. We try to BBQ as much as possible to not use the stove in the house cause then the house don't get so hot. We live in Base housing so we don't pay water or electric so I don't know how bad we are on those things really. But I have decided that when my microwave goes out I am not buying another one. We don't have a yard so composting is a little hard. Which is sad to me cause I love gardening and I love the smell of fresh spoil but as soon as I get a yard I am making one. I am still trying to work on some other small things but they are not even really in the works yet.


    Bookmark   September 16, 2008 at 6:05PM
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Sometimes its easier for the person who does most of the household duties to ease into a 'greener' lifestyle because the things one does, they usually are responsible for least in the traditional household.

I practically had to use subterfuge to get my clotheslines, but my husband was sold on it as soon as we got our first electric bill after I retired my dryer. He readily recycles now, but still leaves the containers on the counter for me to take outside, and to the recycling site. At least they're not in the trash. We have been renovating this old house for thirty years, and he easily agreed with me to use energy efficient options, even though the initial installs are typically a bit higher. I kept graphs on our energy consumption for ten years and seeing savings in black and white really drove that point home!

He doesn't participate too much in my gardening or food preservation efforts, but he supports them. He doesn't even flinch anymore when I tell him I need the garden enlarged again, lol. All of those things were issues years ago, but if one is just persistant and can document how these efforts saved money and if you just keep on plugging behind the scenes and not drop the bombshell all at once, it sticks.

I even got him to install a pitcher pump in my kitchen, which btw, I use more than the one running off of power from our spring cachement basin. It is a life saver when we are without power, and it pulls up water more quickly than the household system. I even see him contributing now to ideas, and giving an effort to support my ethics on this issue. I noticed that most of the wastefulness was from just habit, and not considering the options, or like so many people, who just think something isn't quite so convenient.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 4:00PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Concerning CFL light bulbs. These have an electronic field around them so for closeup reading lights, you may want to consider your health. To test for this field...get an AM radio and set it to near the lower end. When you approach a CFL, computer or screen, plasma tv, you will hear static. I think it would be wiser to stay back from these things a couple feet at least.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 2:43PM
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