This story is part of Earth911’s “Green Eight” series, where we showcase eight ways to green your life in various areas.
In the past, our Green Eight articles have been less of an emotional challenge and more of a physical battle. But with a New Year right at our heels, we felt you were up for some good, old fashioned hard work. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to put some quality time into your partner, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend or best friend, ’cause it is time to get the eco-slacker in your life off the couch and ready to go green with these eight simple steps:
1. Lead by Design
The most important part of trying to convert your wasteful partner-in-crime into a clean, lean, earth-friendly machine is to be a good example. Change that sometimes to an always, that maybe to yes and that someday to a now. Don’t just buy them reusable bags – make sure you remember yours when you two go shopping together. Most people want to do what looks both fun and right. If you aren’t doing, they’re not going to either. So put your money where your mouth is and get dedicated!
2. Knowing is Half the Battle
Give somebody a fish and they eat for a day, teach ’em to fish, and watch out because you’ll be eating trout for months. Education is the key to success and what is better than the gift of knowledge. Now that you have started them down the right path with a Kindle (books use paper, after all), its time to load it up with all the best reads. Some great electronic books available include: Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough, The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, by Tim Flannery, and the class green guru’s guide: An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore.
3. Get Up, Get Out and Do Something
Getting involved in your local community can be a fast and easy way to get connected to the world as a whole. A simple trip to the farmers market can help sustain local growers, while introducing you to a new neighbor and encouraging you to eat organic foods. Also, a Saturday spent volunteering at your community garden can help you better understand the use for your own compost or those old tires you were storing in your backyard. One simple act can open the door to new possibilities and actions. Try something new, together, and see where it may lead.
4. All Systems Ready
Sometimes the hardest part of a project is getting started…so do it for them! If the house you share or the home they have doesn’t already have a recycling system in place, set one up for them. A little surprise recycling overhaul will be just what the doctor ordered to get them jump-started in their new life. But be careful: if it’s their house you are changing, make sure to not make any changes that will turn your surprise into a screaming match instead of a high-five party. Need help getting started? Check out our recycling guide to get going.
If they already have this in place, think of another gap in their planetary alignment that you can fill. Make a checklist of all your favorite must haves, and go down your supply list. Check off every item as you outfit them, like:
✓ Rechargeable batteries
✓ Bamboo towels
✓ Cloth Tote Bags
5. Another Brick in the Wall
The Great Wall of China is over 4,000 miles long and is estimated to be comprised of 651,325,878,854
individual bricks. While trying to reduce your carbon footprint isn’t such a huge task as building a structure that you can see from the moon, to some it can feel overwhelming at times. This is where support is a must. Be encouraging and supportive, but most of all, hold your partner accountable. Everyone needs a little shove sometimes, as well as a pat on the back and some acknowledgment. What might seem like a daily activity to you could be a big deal to them. So make a scene, throw a party, or send them an e-card to let them know you have seen a change – and you appreciate it! After all, the Great Wall wasn’t built in a day, but it’s lasted for thousands of years.
6. You Know You Got To Have Friends
We’ve all been in this next scenario: you’ve got the setup, you’ve got the supplies, you’re on the right track, then all of a sudden, here comes your partner’s work buddies with Styrofoam to-go cups, 10 plastic bags with one item in each, demanding a caravan to the new giant-tron movie theater 30 miles outside of town in their RV! Sigh.
You suggest the local theater (it’s within biking distance, after all), they scoff and high-tail it outta there while you eat their exhaust… Well, this picture may be a bit on the dramatic side, but it does point out that people in your life (and your partner’s) can have a big impact on their frame of mind.
Taking up a new lifestyle is a great time to meet others in your new mindset. Attending events, shows, expos, concerts and stores that focus on eco-products and culture are great places to meet other couples like you. Take this opportunity to get out into the scene and start to mingle. New friends will open the door to unique options and different things that can spice up your life. The movie theater will always be there – live a little!
7. Find Fantastic Alternatives
No one knows your partner’s favorite food, indulgent activities, or wasteful treats better than you. To positively counteract this, find the “eco-alterative” for each and make it even better. Maybe their shopping habit has them going “consumer crazy,” not only wasting packaging but buying products that aren’t so Earthly aware. Give them an online option. Internet shops like SaveYourWorld.com and Bluehouse can satisfy their urges, and LetsGoGreen.com can take care of the more day to day needs.
Coffee addict? Try fair trade. Chocolate junkie? Go organic. Love the gas guzzler? Start saving for those new SUV hybrids. Whatever the hang-up, think outside the box – it’s easier than you think. Plus, it shows that you thought it through and are not trying to take away their favorite things, just make them greener!
8. Take an Eco Trip
After all this work, its time for a vacation, so make it a green one. Whether it’s your second honeymoon, first trip together or just a weekend away, a trip with Mother Nature in mind is a great way to start your new lifestyle off on the right foot. Options in eco-tourism have been growing like wild in the past few years, representing 11.4 percent of all consumer spending in the travel industry. You’ve done a lot of work, so take a break, and enjoy each other!