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How Does Being Eco Friendly Effect Your Relationship?

One of the most difficult parts about trying to raise a family in an eco friendly way is when you don’t have agreement in your household about what you should and should not be doing. Very often one person will feel much more strongly than the other about environmental topics, and this can lead to disagreements. Is being eco friendly being hard on your family?


Kids are interesting creatures, as any parent will tell you. They can be so amazingly eco friendly one day, utterly indifferent the next. They’ll be passionate about things you may never have considered.

It’s vital that you give your kids the habit of being green. This is easiest when they’re young, so it’s just a fact of life for them.

If they’re resisting, talk to them about it. Resistance can be a sign of not understanding the problem, an issue with peer pressure or simple disinterest. See what you can do about it.

Fortunately, more and more kids are aware of environmental issues these days, so you can find good examples for them if you look around.


If there’s anyone more difficult for a mom to change than her kids, it’s often her husband. Most mean well, they try, but if it’s not a subject he’s interested in you’re going to have quite a battle.

With my own husband, it’s his willingness to go the easy way rather than considering sustainability at times that can drive me up the wall. I finally have him understanding why plastic bags don’t go in the regular recycling. Not because I told him, but because he talked to a professional who explained that plastic bags tend to generate static electricity, stick to everything else whether or not it’s the right sort of plastic, and generally cause trouble. They need to go through the recycling at the grocery store.

On the plus side, he gets the recycling mostly right, loves to garden, and composts when possible, which sadly isn’t much where we are now. He also likes his Klean Kanteen water bottle I got for him to use at work.

The key is proper communication with each other. It doesn’t do a lot of good for your relationship to yell at each other over your differences. It’s better if you can talk about them.

Make sure your communication includes why you’re making the changes you are and why you support the causes you do. Education is a big part of being environmentally friendly. Otherwise it all feels like extra hassle to a lot of people. If you show your husband and kids as appropriate why you don’t use certain things or certain brands, they may be more cooperative in the matter.

Your own attitude can be a problem as well. If you have too much of an attitude that you know best, you’re going to put people off. You need to accept that sometimes you will have different priorities and even develop different opinions despite looking at the same information. That’s fine. What you should be hoping for is that you will both make an effort to understand the other’s perspective.

Remember, marriage doesn’t make you one. You are still two different people hoping to spend your lives together. You’re going to have differences. Don’t let the differences obscure what’s good.

The Parts You Can Enjoy Together

The great part about raising your family in an eco friendly way is that there are so many things you can enjoy together. Hiking, camping, fresh foods. Even learning to live with less than others can be a pleasure with the right attitude. It’s not things that make us happy, as a rule. It’s having people you care about with you.

Have You Talked to Your Family About Being Green Lately?

If you’ve been working at being green for a while in your home, you probably figure your family is used to the idea. But have you talked about it? How does everyone feel about it? Are there more changes people would be willing to make?

It’s easy to slip into a comfort zone with any activity. We all do it. Having a family talk about how things are working out is good for making sure that resentments aren’t building and to come up with new ideas.

What Are the Problems?

Raising a green family isn’t easy and it’s not always fun for all participants. What is acceptable at one point may be turning into a burden as your kids get older, for example. Talking about how things are working gives everyone a chance to express their feelings, even if you don’t make changes.

What Are the Solutions?

Discuss what your family is willing to do to go green. Who is responsible for various activities? Why are you doing all of this anyhow?

Each family will have their own areas that are easier and harder to deal with. For some, growing an organic garden will be a pleasure, even when it comes to dealing with the compost pile. For others, it will be a chore, and possibly better replaced by joining a co-op or finding other organic or local food sources.

Go through the list of easy and hard eco friendly activities. When something is challenging, talk about how you can meet that challenge or simplify it.

Give everyone a chance to talk. If one of the kids is on the quiet side, encourage him or her to speak up. Not only is it good practice, it will help to ensure that they feel their concerns have been heard. I can tell you from experience that just because a quiet child doesn’t speak up readily doesn’t mean he or she lacks an opinion or isn’t resentful that things don’t go their way. It’s just incredibly hard for some people to speak up for themselves.

You can write down your solutions to help everyone remember what you’ve agreed to. Some things you will be able to schedule so that everyone will know when particular jobs need to be done. Other things will just be a part of the routine.

Talk Regularly

You don’t need to talk about these things daily, but do talk regularly. How often depends on what works for your family. Just remember to talk about it.

5 Habits of Eco Friendly Families

Raising an eco friendly family takes a lot of work, but much of it becomes habit in fairly short order. It even becomes fun.

1. Be more environmentally aware as a family.

Talk as a family about what’s going on in the world and how it effects the environment. Talk about how your individual habits and habits as a family effect the environment.

Talk about how your individual habits and habits as a family effect the environment.

Keep this simple when the kids are young.  You can explain to young children why they should do things like recycle paper, not litter, and pick up litter that others leave behind. You want to keep it a little on the fun side, and not bring up a lot of worries about what’s happening to the world when the kids are too young for such worries. There’s a balance there.

As everyone gets older, get into more details and encourage everyone to work harder on doing their part for the environment. Try volunteering as the kids get old enough.

Make sure you always pick reliable sources. The usual news media is great for presenting the worst of the big stuff while ignoring the overall impact of other things. They over simplify things like climate change so much that people don’t think it’s likely.

You can find great, age appropriate books by searching online, and don’t forget to check your local libraries. Many websites work hard at providing good information too; just be sure that they’re using good sources, as others are little more than online tabloids or are actively against the environmental movement. Nothing wrong with reading both sides, but make sure you get into how these differences come about.

Suggested Websites

Environmental News Network
World Resources Institute
The Earth Charter Initiative

Suggested Books

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change

2. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Practice these as a family, and remember that they’re in order.

Reduce is the most important. The less you use, the less of an environmental impact you have on the world.

The less you use, the less of an environmental impact you have on the world.

Next comes reuse. This can include buying from thrift shops, resale shops, garage sales, consignment stores and more. Don’t forget Freecycle and handmedowns from family and friends.

It also includes thinking of ways to reuse things that you’re otherwise done with. Think of ways you can reuse paper for crafts for the kids. Think about how to reuse glass jars when you get them.

Recycling comes last. It’s a big help, but only recycle when you know you’re done with something. Find out what is collected for recycling in your community and make sure you recycle it. This won’t be easy in all areas, but do your best.

If you don’t have curbside recycling, find out if there is any place you can drop off recycling and figure out if you can store items until you have enough to make a trip worthwhile. It won’t always happen that way, so just try.

Suggested Websites

Earth 911
EPA Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

3. Have a sustainable, organic garden

How much you can garden depends on where you live. It’s harder to garden in an apartment than in a house with a big backyard… but not quite impossible.

Gardening combines well with having a compost pile. You get organic fertilizer for your garden while disposing of kitchen waste and yard waste in the best way possible.

Gardening combines well with having a compost pile.

The best part about gardening for families is getting the kids used to fresh fruits and vegetables. It often encourages picky eaters to try new foods. Garden fresh produce tastes much superior to what you can buy at the grocery store.

There are many ways to make the most of the garden space you have.  You can garden in containers if all you have is a patio, balcony or even just a window shelf. You can do square foot gardening and make the most of the yard space you commit to your garden.

Suggested Books

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded
All New Square Foot Gardening – Grow More In Less Space

4. Help your local environment.

Pay attention to what your local environment needs. Some of your living habits should be determined by the particular needs of your area.

Water use, for example. Many areas are either facing water shortages or are likely to do so within the next few years. If your state allows, look into installing water barrels on your property to catch rainfall. Look into alternatives to growing a lawn.

Many areas are facing water shortages

Many communities have groups that help care for the local environment. You may be able to help clean local parks, trails and/or beaches. You may be able to get involved in wildlife rescue – after the proper training, of course. You may be able to help campaign for stricter environmental regulations in your area. You may be able to talk to local businesses about how they can be more eco friendly.

5. Tell Others

Don’t limit your activities to your family. Tell friends about what they can do. Don’t be judgmental; do your best to be helpful. Many people will be surprised that being more eco friendly can be cheap, not expensive.