My husband has been incredibly supportive of the choices I’ve made. From the first day I said I wanted to significantly waste-less, he has encouraged me and worked with me to make our new lifestyle a reality for our family.
But what if he wasn’t supportive? What if I was constantly in battle at home, trying to drag him along with me – an unwilling participant in a lifestyle he didn’t care for? I can imagine it would be pretty tough.
Now first off, I am not saying in any way that if your family aren’t supportive, they don’t care about you. It can seem like a daunting change to make if it isn’t your decision. That is why it is so important to discuss it with your family and work together to create a lifestyle that you can all get on board with. So don’t just announce one day that you’re banning all plastic and non-recyclables from the house, that you’re going to start weaving clothes out of wheat and whittling spoons from sustainably sourced bamboo. That is likely to go down like the proverbial lead balloon.
Discuss it as a family
Instead, sit down as a family and discuss what changes you would like to make. Come to a consensus about what you can do. And make compromises, if there is something that they simply can’t live without, discuss the alternatives. Perhaps how it could be sourced more sustainably or homemade? A surprising sticking point for us was tacos!! We love tacos but as yet haven’t been able to source any that aren’t wrapped in plastic. So I have agreed that we’re going to have a go at making some ourselves. Goodness knows how they will turn out, but we’ll have a go.
It’s so important to be armed with the alternatives. There is no use in condemning something if you haven’t got an alternative. I might moan about the purchase of a tube of toothpaste, but unless we want our teeth to rot, I have to find an alternative.
Explain the benefits
You need to talk about why you want to make these changes, why it is so important to you, and also what the benefits are. For me it was obviously about reducing my impact on the planet, but we are also seeing personal benefits. For starters, it feels really good! Not in a self-righteous, sanctimonious kind of way, but it’s a really positive thing that we’re enjoying doing. It’s enjoyable as I love trying out new recipes, discovering new places to shop and being creative to reuse what waste we do produce. And I’m finding it financially beneficial too.
Another thing we did together was watch some inspirational YouTube videos, which probably articulated my reasons better than I could myself. Try this one from Bea Johnson giving a Google Books talk (she does a shorter version of this in her Ted talk).
Go it alone
If you find yourself alone in your quest to reduce your waste, then don’t despair. Of course, if you’re determined you could just plough on regardless and force the rest of the house into it. However, I’m not sure that’s conducive to a happy homestead! But you can still do so much by yourself. Make changes to your own routine, and make smaller changes to the rest of the house. In time, it will become the norm until one day they’re the ones reminding you to fill a water bottle before you go out!
If it’s important to you, hopefully your family will support you. But if they don’t want to fully join you, do what you can yourself. And if you are going it alone, good on you, do what you can, and hopefully by leading the way, others will join you in your quest to waste less.