Yesterday I was hanging out with a friend and he exclaimed how he LOVES getting new school supplies as he opens up a box of cheap and crappy plastic pencils and took two of them out for use. As I was listening to him talking about how he loves his new pencils, my zero waste awareness was secretly sounding the alarms. I wanted to say something but I didn't want to admonish him. I've talked about this blog to him and he actually thinks it's really cool and all but I guess he just doesn't really see yet or is willing to give up what to him are life's little pleasures. What should I or anyone else do in this situation?
Soap box moment ("you" is used as everyone, not you directly :) ). This can be treading on thin ice to potentially impose your opinions on how others live in a nonconstructive way. And I have had these "issues" as a former vegan, currently vegetarian. People generally think these veg-head types feel they are superior...and it is true that many come off that way and can be a total turnoff with a heavy dose of that arrogance. It's a lifestyle choice for ethical and/or health reasons, not a superior way of living. My positioning, you cannot impose your views on others and then expect them to fall in line. This is isn't about assimilation to what you feel is right, no matter what kind of factual information you have to back your claims. Some people think only eating organic foods is the only right way to live. Some people think veganism is the only right way to live. To be effective, create awareness to another way of living instead of judging how someone else is currently living his/her life. Truly offering suggestions/alternatives are great and are nonintrusive. In the past, I have talked about my delicious seitan recipe with abandon. But not because it's vegan, but because it's freakin' good and I like to cook. Now my in-laws love it, and even my BIL makes it himself! :) I think it's because I don't pass ANY judgment on what they eat, but I'm going to show them what I like to eat. This is nonthreatening, and my in-laws usually like to tell me about how little meat they eat. Good for them, but I had no "goal" on reducing their meat consumption. I just love to talk about great veg food! And if it makes them more conscious about their choices, good for them for making the step. :)
I think new school supplies are cool, too, and I would agree with him completely. Then show a friend your new, cool zero waste/sustainable/compostable items for the new school year/semester/quarter/whatever. Soap box moment ended.
I was telling my students about how I bring my own to-go container and bag to a restaurant to avoid ending up with the take-home packaging. They didn't know that restaurants will allow this. I told them that I've never had a restaurant refuse to use my containers and in fact, many restaurants are becoming used to this. This shows me that a lot of people just aren't aware of zero waste in general and some simple things that one can do specifically.
I am having a lot of trouble with my family helping to meet our zero-waste goals. My husband was enthusiastically on-board with moving to a zero-waste lifestyle, or at least he SAID he was when we discussed the subject, but recently I've noticed when I try to bring up alternatives to wasteful ways he nods okay and just continues to buy crap we've talked about numerous times. This also extends into our eating habits, I'm a long-time veggie and he voiced a lot of concern over grocery-store meat products, and wanting to cut back on meat in general and also just get sustainable local meat for those "sometimes" occasions when he really wants to eat it. But he never sticks to it, and continues to buy factory farmed meat. I try to be non-judgemental and supportive of even small efforts but I'm beginning to suspect after four years and very little change in behavior that he was just putting on a good show and really doesn't give a damn about it.
On top of this, my stepdaughter insists upon acting like I am ruining her life by changing shopping habits and moving towards zero-waste and a more sustainable lifestyle. My husband has no backbone to tell her NO, we aren't doing that or buying that. There isn't even a compromise, he just gives in every time. It's really discouraging me and making me feel like all my efforts are wasted when I can't even get my house to make small environmentally conscious changes. Any suggestions on how to get my family into this? I feel like it will only force mmroe resistance if I get tough on them, but maybe this is the next step?
This is the toughest of situations. I, too, have been talking about plastic waste and such with my husband for years yet he will still buy bottled water nearly every time he stops at the convenience store for gas. Drives me crazy!
I do the best I can by focusing on the positives (like noted in other comments here) and also by staying one step ahead of him. I now fill up a kleen kanteen with ice water and hand it to him before he walks out the door. I do the grocery shopping (the way I want to) before he notices that we are low on certain pantry items. He loves Mediterranean foods like olives and hummus, so I get 'special' snacks for him from the Olive Bar at the grocery store and rave about the flavors they have. He loves it and I don't say anything about zero waste.
I noticed that he would grab a new paper towel to dry his hands in the kitchen every time he washed them. So I changed the location of the cloth kitchen towel to be next to the sink and but paper towels in a less convenient location. He now dries his hands on the cloth towel. I didn't mention anything about it.
And lastly, I don't nag. It just makes matters worse. I focus on myself and change *my* habits as much as I can. In most cases my changes are prettier, more fun, or taste better so the rest of the house eventually catches on.
It's sometimes annoying that I have to put in the extra effort, but habits are habits and once they're changed for the better it's easy to continue that way. I started thinking of it as a game to see how many small victories I can win. They appear to be adding up!