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Conflict-Free Zone

April 1, 2010

By Jennifer Chaky

There’s been a lot of coverage in the media about how going green is causing some tension in families and with couples. When one person wants to revamp his lifestyle while the rest of the family is in business-as-usual mode, things can get pretty intense.

I hear this from customers all the time. They wish they can get their spouse or kids to reuse containers, compost, take shorter showers, or turn down the heat. One customer was buying waste-free lunch supplies for her child and herself, and she said with a defeated sigh that her husband would never use any of the stuff, and if she wants to stay married, she won’t push it. Another friend told me how her husband admits to walking on eggshells around her, afraid he will throw a compostable item in the trash or be caught with his takeout containers from lunch. And in no way does his wife mean to make him feel this way- but her greener-than-thou ways are unintentionally giving him a complex.

Relationship and family dynamics are hard enough. Going green should not be a source of conflict–but an opportunity for growth. I’ll use writer Paulo Coelho’s line: “When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change.”

For those who are the lone-greenie in your family–may I offer you encouragement that you are not alone in your aloneness. There are seeds of change like yourself in many families. Connecting with these fellow green-souls–either online through blogs, or with a local group (check out–will make you feel more sane and reaffirm your convictions. You are doing what you do in an effort to make the world better and healthier. Keep your eye on the goal and go easy on yourself – and your loved ones. And remember to have a sense of humor.

And for those living with a resident-greenie who feel they are being pulled down a road they don’t want to go I say this: Going green is not a fad, or trend, or phase–it is a logical response to what is happening to our planet and our health. It is an action that individuals take for the betterment of the world for all. Sure, it takes consciousness and effort and time. But instead of begrudging the change, how about considering yourself lucky that you have a family member that is willing to lead the way?

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