Live Green and Earn Points


The List

5 Ways to Get Everyone on the Green Bandwagon

By |

Recycling and reducing waste just aren’t top-of-mind for some people. Here are a few ways you might persuade them to join your green efforts.

What happens when you are scrupulous about reducing, reusing, and recycling… but the rest of your household isn’t? This was the issue with Recyclebank reader Katherine, who wrote to us about her excessive trash-producing, water-wasting, harsh chemical cleanser-using housemate. “How would you suggest that a household with roommates get together to make sure everyone is on the same page where green action is concerned?”

Good question, Katherine, and we’re sure it’s one that is not uncommon. After all, people come in many shades of green, and some folks just haven’t given thought to how their everyday habits can impact the planet. Plus, in some cases, the sustainable choice is the one that’s a little more effort on your part. But even if someone doesn’t share your beliefs in being eco-conscious, there’s no denying that being environmentally responsible benefits everyone in the long run. So if you’ve got a spouse, a housemate, or a child who is reluctant to go green, use these ideas to get them to see the light.

  1. Arm yourself with knowledge. Pick the few areas that matter the most for you, and prepare some information and research about why making a change in the household is important. Whether it’s buying mostly organic food, conserving water, or recycling more of your waste, do your homework to explain exactly why changing habits is important and how it can benefit the environment.
  2. Make it as simple as possible. It’s easier to change someone’s habits (especially if they are reluctant) if you make it easy for them to adopt the new habit. This might mean shouldering more of the burden, at least at first. If you want certain nontoxic cleansers used at home, then buy them and stock the broom closet with them. Have the recycling bin in an easy-to-reach area, and offer to take the recycling to the curb yourself. Find easy ways that they can be green, and gradually introduce changes into the household routine rather than expecting a complete overhaul of habits.
  3. Find out their objections. Sit down and discuss what’s preventing your roomie from being more eco-friendly in a neutral and non-confrontational way. It could be that your spouse or roommate doesn’t think that eco-friendly products work as well as conventional ones, or that they simply don’t have the time to compost vegetables. By knowing what their concerns and issues are, you can try to work together to find an agreeable solution.
  4. Show what’s in it for them. Again, a little advance research pays off. Do some calculations and show how much you’ll save on the utility bills if they’re more careful about turning off unnecessary lights and taking shorter showers. Explain the environmental health benefits of eating organic and unprocessed foods. It just might be the motivation that’s needed.
  5. Know when to let it go. Finally, if you’ve tried various options and you still haven’t convinced your housemate or spouse, you might just have to drop the issue and do what you can on your own (I know people who root through the trash to pick out recyclables that their housemates carelessly toss). You can decide for yourself if it’s a cause so important to you that you’d prefer to find a new roommate, or if you can simply do your own part and turn the other cheek when you see the sink running full-blast while your roommate brushes her teeth!

Have you ever had to convince someone to be more environmentally responsible? Share your story in the comments below.

Share with Your Friends & Family
About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan
I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same. more
  • Donna C. 5 years ago
    By purchasing whole foods instead of prepared, I have a lot less containers to recycle or reuse.
  • tommy b. 5 years ago
  • mary B. 6 years ago
    It does not take a lot of water to bath.Our soldiers only have a helmet of water for bathing,shaving,brushing their teeth.I tried this,if they can do it.So may I. Mary B.
    • Ann A. 6 years ago
      I agree-- and thank you for sharing, as I had not known about the water rations.
      I spent some time in eastern Sri Lanka a few years ago, and adapted rather quickly to the differences in practices such as using the toilet (pit toilets), bathing, and basic hygiene. It's interesting and actually quite amazing how quickly such culturally unfamiliar practices begin to feel "normal."
  • joanna l. 6 years ago
    I think that you can speak to anyone about being green, it depends on what is important to them.
    Someone who donates clothes to veterans organization is being eco friendly in a way that is important to them.
    • erica e. 6 years ago
      Yes! Most people seemed motivated by saving money, which also tends to parallel being green. Especially true for many older persons on fixed income. "The Greatest Generation" may have invented thriftiness, hee hee.
    • mary B. 6 years ago
      The elder.The greatest generation.We could learn a lot from them,if only people would listen.They know how to turn a nickle into a dime.
    • joanna l. 6 years ago
      yes , absolutely! I learned so much from my mom and grandma ( and they never thought about being "green"
      Older generations have lots of wisdom to share
    • erica e. 5 years ago
      Most elders are greener than young people, but their motivation might be different-- being frugal and not wadteful. Yields the same, or better, result, so no need to try and convert them about newfangled ideas like global warming if they are not interested.
    • joanna l. 5 years ago
      I learned a lot from my mother my grandmother and my mother in law. They had to be so creative in terms of saving resources and money. The origins of reduce, reuse and recycle.
  • joanna l. 6 years ago
    By being a positive example, you will raise awareness in all of the people around you.
    ( And be respectful of people who don't share your views )
  • View More