Going Zero Waste with a reluctant partner

How do you live a low-waste lifestyle with a reluctant partner or family member? By request, I’m tackling that topic today.

I admit that I have it pretty good in this regard. My husband agrees with me about the importance of Zero Waste, and he was a vegetarian long before I adopted a plant-based diet! For a lot of the household stuff, he also (how do I put this nicely?)…doesn’t care… If I change the dish soap or give him a shampoo bar he doesn’t have much of an opinion.

That being said, there are some things he refuses to budge on, like (plastic-free!) cotton swabs and aluminum-based antiperspirant in plastic. And honestly, that’s fine. No one is perfect and those are hardly the end of the world.

It is unfortunate that it often seems to fall to the woman in the (heterosexual) relationship to make the Zero Waste changes. There’s a great article about this that I highly recommend reading: “The complicated gender politics of going zero waste.”

For me personally, I don’t mind because I enjoy making those decisions and I’m mostly at home during the day, but the gender politics at play are important to recognize.

Here are some tips and suggestions, but I’d also love to hear your thoughts. What’s your experience? Do you struggle with this? Any advice to share?

Appeal to what matters to them

Maybe it’s going surfing in a clean ocean, protecting animals from getting entangled in plastic, or making the world better for the future generations. Maybe it’s saving money, haha!

Or you can mention people who they look up to—like Jason Momoa or Leonardo Dicaprio, who are both passionate environmentalists.

Give information in other ways

Sometimes people need to receive info differently. My dad doesn’t listen too well in person, but reading something is completely different.

Books, articles, movies, photos, statistics… there are lots of ideas. How about a date night eating snacks and watching Our Planet? Or checking out a delicious new vegan restaurant? Make it fun!

Provide easy alternatives

Put out a basket of handkerchiefs where the tissue box was, or some cloths where the paper towels used to be. Switch out the shampoo for a shampoo bar in the same place.

It helps to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Make compromises

Have a treat night once a week with a bag of chips and a chocolate bar. If that’s what it takes to be low-waste the rest of the time, that’s pretty good!

Sometimes it helps to meet people where they are. People don’t typically change everything overnight, and that’s okay.

Pick your battles

At the end of the day, you can’t force change on anyone. You can only change yourself. If your partner or family member is not interested, just live your best life regardless.

Maybe they’ll come around, and maybe they won’t. Don’t let it stop you though!


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