Going Green With A Resistant Spouse

My husband loves hiking, polar bears, native plants, and organic cherry tomatoes. We met on Earth Day at an eco-friendly volunteer event and share a deep appreciation for the natural world.  Why then does he turn the thermostat up to 71 degrees while loafing around the house in shorts and a t-shirt?   Why does he drive to the park with our son when he, an avid marathoner, could push the stroller there in a mere ten minutes?  Sadly, I think I know the answer to my own questions.  My husband, the love of my life, is a lazy environmentalist. 

The good news is that although he is highly resistant to change, once he’s on the bandwagon, he’s there to stay.  He wasn’t sure about cloth diapering but now he’s the one who launders them more than anyone.  Composting seemed a bit messy to him but now he happily takes out our potato peels and radish tops on a daily basis. 

He’s always slow to embrace changes in our lifestyle (especially ones that entail cutting back a bit on comfort) but after the initial resistance, he usually joins right in.  So, I’ve found it’s best to endure the grumbling and forge ahead with small changes until he becomes more of a leader than a follower.

I still sometimes wish that he would internalize the impact of carbon emissions and make changes without my prompting but after knowing and loving him for a long time, I realize that he’s a status quo kind of guy–which is why he married a spontaneous woman who loves to initiate change!   The truth is, he’s a fabulous father and partner, which is why I have patience for his lack of action.  

Have any of you struggled with a spouse who flat out refuses to use cloth diapers or turn down the thermostat?  How have you handled your eco-spats?  Thanks for sharing your experiences!


  1. Hmm, I woud say my husband is NOT on the bandwagon, yet.

    He is a hard worker, and not lazy at all, but is all about efficiency. He doesn’t like anything that makes for more work than necessary (ie. cloth diapering). He still gives me a hard time about it and says it is not worth my effort because I am not really making a difference in the big scheme of things, only making myself feel good, and that is discouraging. I do all the laundering, and almost all of the changing. It is more work, of course, but I enjoy it, and that is what I remind him. Telling him is saves money hasn’t won him over yet when he knows I could buy disposables for 15 cents a diaper and save myself time and effort. I have no plans to quit cloth diapering because I really like it. I think he is surprised and impressed that I have stuck with it and even won over a few friends, too.

    Recycling is the same battle, since we don’t have curbside pickup in our city… and I am not even approaching composting, yet… :)

    He does like to save money on fuel, though, and has even researched making biodiesel! I guess that is something! :)

  2. It’s interesting to hear your husband’s arguments, Emily. It’s funny because I feel like cloth diapering is one area where it’s very clear that I’m making a difference. By avoiding disposables, I’m personally keeping ONE TON of garbage out of a landfill. (Multiply that by everyone using cloth and it really adds up). We do recycle and compost, so it means that we take garbage out just once a month–saving us $100/year on trash service. If you spend $.15/diaper, that is still $900 over 2.5 years–or $1150 for me, including the extra trash I’d have to pay for. I cloth diapered for less than $300, total, including my estimated washing/drying expenses. So for me, it’s really felt “worth it.” The main thing, though, is that like you, I actually enjoyed the process!

  3. My husband is not interested in living green but thankfully he doesn’t mind what I do as long as it doesn’t inconvienience him. Since a lot of green living is also economical he does see that as a plus. I did cloth diapers on my own, if I wanted him to change a diaper I needed to use disposable. We do a lot of recycling but that isn’t his thing but he has noticed that it isn’t any harder to recycle a bag of shredded paper (from his work) than it is to throw it away so we do have a little progress. He does help out a bit with my gardening (tilling it for me every year and then helping to put leaves on it in the fall.) but the compost pile and everything like that is my job.
    We still have a very good relationship even with our differences. He doesn’t mind the things I do and I have learned not to be to upset if some things that could be recycled go in the trash (Though I do go through his office trash can at times!).

    As far as Solar heat, and things of that sort that I would like to try… I think we have a ways to go.

  4. Ooh, is nice to know I’m keeping one ton out of the landfill! Thanks!

    I think my husband definitely does appreciate that I am willing to try new things and stick with them, so that’s a start.

    He also does enjoy the great outdoors very much, too. I think he just still takes things for granted because didn’t grow up in a place where people really thought about limited resources or the need to take care of the environment. So hopefully I am slowly opening his eyes :)

  5. YES! I thought I was alone in this! My most recent struggle has been with cloth diapers. My husband has argued with me about using them up until the last couple weeks. He constantly was saying to my son (who is 21 months), “I’m sorry I haven’t bought you any real diapers for a while. I will soon!” So last week we were out shopping. He started complaining about the diapers again. He is a manager at work and he has always said that I’m the household manager (I’m a full-time mom). When he began complaining, I said, “Do you really support me as our household manager?” He said yes. Then I told him he needed to respect and comply with my household decisions. He argued with me for a few minutes and said something about him getting employee feedback on ideas. I reminded him that even if his employees didn’t agree with something, if he felt strongly about it he would go through with his plan regardless. For the last couple weeks, he hasn’t criticized any of my methods or decisions. He really does want me to run our house so now that we have that understanding of me actually MANAGING the house, I think he will go with whatever I say in the “greenness” of our family, even if he doesn’t feel the same.

  6. My husband made a big stink of the cloth diapering, and I decided to pick my battles and give this one up. I had even purchased a complete set already. Unfortunately, we do not use cloth diapers because my husband refused to put them in our washing machine. I love him, and I have accepted that sometimes compromise is necessary.

  7. My husband likes the idea of going green, but not when it’s inconvenient for him. He’ll take very long showers, forget to turn off lights, etc. We don’t have a baby yet, but we’ve discussed cloth diapering when we do and he seems to be okay with giving it a try. He’s not at all resistant to my efforts of going green, and takes out the recycling for me regularly. I keep telling myself that I’m lucky to have the husband I do instead of someone who completely resists being more eco-conscious.

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