Till Recyclables Do Us Part
Dear Mr. Green,
I recently married the love of my life! We have the perfect relationship in every way except for… the garbage. Knowing so many singles in NYC, I suppose I should be counting my lucky stars that this is really our only difference of opinion. You see, I am a serious recycler and he, I have come to learn, could care less. I have 4 separate bins in my kitchen. One is for garbage, one for glass, aluminum and plastic, one for cardboard and paper, and one for batteries. They are all clearly labeled and he knows my dedication to reducing waste yet, when I come home from work, I find everything in the garbage bin. How can I get him to cooperate?
Dear Princess of the Pile,
Most women I know are thankful if their male partners actually get any of their garbage into a garbage bin in the first place, so you still may have a “keeper” on your hands. With a little patience, getting him to reduce, reuse, and recycle may not be such a long shot.
When my partner, Richard and I met almost 20 years ago we had so many things in common–art, theater, movies, great food, antiquing, traveling. The environment wasn’t one of them!
Upon visiting my apartment in the East Village for the first time, he just about burst into flames when he discovered that I didn’t buy paper towels. I felt very strongly about not using them and just handed him a cloth napkin, to which he replied, “What century do you live in?” Now that we live together, while I did give in a little on the paper towel side, he’s come to appreciate the luxury of our linen napkins–life is about compromises. Now he uses much less paper, and I take pleasure in recycling our table linens every time we do a wash.
But believe me, going “green” can be an uphill battle. Most people just need a little encouragement. When I unfolded the details of my partner’s eco-shortcomings. (i.e. paper-towel consumption, recycling-phobia, blah, blah, blah) to my shrink, she offered some sage advice: “Doll. That one? You’ll need to train him like a dog!” …and she was right. What comes naturally isn’t always natural.
As he’s helped me with my many bio-projects over the years, a lot of green has rubbed off. And from our living together he’s pretty much a changed man. He knows most of the recipes in my book, and since he’s let go of his brand loyalty to commercial cleaners, he actually uses them.
Unfortunately no man comes with an operational manual. I can’t find mine, the man I cohabitate with certainly doesn’t have one, and, good guess yours doesn’t either. My suggestion…love him for who he is and consider his unfortunate behaviors a work in progress.
Take baby-steps with him. For most folks who have never been very eco-conscious, turning “green” can seem overwhelming. You might start out by asking him to at least put the sections of the newspaper he doesn’t read onto the paper-recycling heap.
You might also appeal to his scientific and/or economic side, and get him to think about his personal carbon footprint and how much more (a) he is spending, (b) he is wasting, and (c) he is adding to global warming by not recycling. And finally, if you are planning a family, you might also get through to him by discussing the kind of world he would want his children and grandchildren to inherit.
about mr. green
From re-gifting, re-cycling, to natural cleaning products for your home, Mr. Green has all of your ecotiquette answers. Our Mr. Green (aka. Michael De Jong), is the author of “CLEAN: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing.” He lives in Jersey City with his partner (Richard,) dog (Jack,) and three goldfish (Phil, Jill and Gill) all of which benefit from his natural cleaning techniques. De Jong, who cleaned apartments in New York City while working as a fine artist, began researching and inventing many of the recipes in “CLEAN” and is continually experimenting with safe, effective and eco-friendly alternatives. Raised in the mid-West by an immigrant family that valued the environment and re-cycled before it was fashionable, his quest for non-toxic solutions comes naturally to him. He is currently writing a companion series of “CLEAN” books dealing with such topics as the body, first aid, organization, and food, as well as posting a weekly Blog on www.thedailygreen.com. “CLEAN: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing” can be purchased at Barnes & Noble stores across the country or on-line at www.barnesandnoble.com or www.amazon.com.
Click here to send him a question and he’ll put in the elbow grease to scrub out the answers!