Monday, October 15, 2012

Green It, I Mean It! (Guest Post)

Making the decision to "go green" by removing toxic cleaners, cosmetics, household products, and eating local, sustainable, GMO-free foods, as well as doing our part to preserve our beautiful planet is a big challenge that requires stepping out of your comfort zone and changing your mindset about everyday living. In most cases, it means we have to break a lifetime of bad habits, give up some of our favorite products, pastimes, and foods. The choice to "go green" requires a lot of will power and discipline. It's difficult to pay the extra cost and go the extra mile (literally sometimes) to find products that fit your "green" criteria.

Now, imagine that you've got yourself in gear and are making strides in the right direction, but you have a spouse that is not on board with the plan! Do you really need one more obstacle in your efforts to live green? You know that the changes you are making are the right ones for your body, your environment, and your spirit, not to mention the future if you have little ones at home watching and learning from your every move. So what do you do? GO TO WAR!!!!

Let the Battle Begin:

War is a concept that my three time Iraq/Afghanistan veteran hubby understands all too well. So when he came back from deployment number three and was not eager to get on board with the new clean lifestyle that had become the norm for my two-year old and me, I knew three things: 

1) I had a battle on my hands.
2) He was a worthy adversary. 
3) I would not give up - the stakes were just too high.

There is one thing just as tough (if not more so) as an Army veteran - his wife and mother of his child! It would be a big mistake to underestimate any mother set out on a mission to do what she knows is best for her child's health, happiness, and future. I knew I was up for this challenge, so if you're facing a similar one with family members, don't give up, formulate a strategy for victory!

My Strategy:

1. Pick Your Battles Wisely

When my husband sat down to the table for his first vegetarian dinner, I was serving a quinoa zucchini lasagna. In short, he almost lost it after one bite! He actually says that quinoa scares him! Seriously??? I thought, “You can handle three deployments to the Middle East, but you're afraid of a little protein-packed grain?” LOL! I didn't have to be a genius to figure out that vegetarianism was not cut out for this man. I decided not to try and turn him. (Do I kind of sound like some sort of veggie vampire that seeks to convert everyone to veggie eating? Hehehe.) Well, I can honestly say that going vegetarian wasn't that hard for me and the kiddo, especially when it was just us two at home. However, it was difficult when eating out at family gatherings or at local cultural events. It's not easy living in Hawaii and not being able to enjoy an occasional luau. So I formulated our current sustainable eating strategy in which we only buy organic dairy, chicken, beef and wild caught fish. We also strive to purchase fruits and veggies that are organic, GMO-free, locally grown, or at least grown in the USA. If the produce doesn't meet at least two of the criteria, I don't buy it.  We also strive for minimally processed whole foods. We are omnivores, but I am constantly working to improve our meals so that we eat more whole fruits, vegetables, and grains than meat and dairy.  This plan has worked for us so far, and I feel much better about what we are putting into our bodies, and no one feels deprived of their favorite foods. I'm sure that our diet doesn't go far enough for many people's green standards, but I think each family should evaluate their diet, health concerns, and budget then come up with a plan that works for their life without judging others.  I know that we have greatly reduced our carbon footprint with these changes, and I'm very proud of how far we've come. I'm confident that we have set realistic expectations of ourselves, and we can keep up with these changes for a lifetime. Instead of pushing ourselves into just a "movement of the moment" fad diet that is not at all satisfying that we'd end up quitting after a few weeks, we eat meals that are vegan, vegetarian, and ones that contain organic animal protein allowing us to enjoy our food and feel good about the impact we are having on our bodies and the environment.

2. Hit Your Opponent Where It Hurts

I was not above hitting my husband where it hurts (figuratively speaking, of course). Initially, I tried  to get him to watch documentaries like Food Inc. and appeal to the logical reasons for eating green and avoiding chemical products in our home, but he was just stuck in his mind-set that what he grew up with worked. So, I pulled our daughter into the equation. I reminded him that we were not trying to give her the life that we had growing up, but a better one! I reminded him that at age 29, he had a super high cholesterol despite being athletic and fit, but that my cooking helped him get back down to a normal level and that I was yet again looking out for his health and ours.  I informed him that our daughter's body was developing and growing and that her tiny system would be greatly affected by harsh chemicals even if he felt he was "manly" enough to tolerate them.  He can't argue with doing what's best for our daughter, so I got him to at least open his mind to alternatives. We still continue to dispute over which products are OK and which aren’t, especially when it comes to cleaning solutions!!! I'm currently dealing with him buying the wrong things only for me to toss them out - waste of $$$ for sure, but he'll catch on soon. I know this because he's frugal if nothing else.

3. Two Heads Aren't Always Better Than One

If you've seen the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," then you may remember the scene where the mother tells her daughter, “A man is the head, but a woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she likes."

Think about this quote and apply it! My husband and I started off butting heads like rams and then I became the neck! I had to get him involved in eco-friendly projects around the house so he didn't feel attacked because he was doing things the wrong, "non-green" way. I found cool green ideas for projects that he could do at the house or with our daughter, and this really appealed to him, because he is very much into DIY projects.  Now, he comes up with ideas on his own that are economical and green; he's actually enjoying "green" living without thinking of it in those terms. When it comes to healthy dinners, I ask him to vote after each new dish, and he decides if I should continue making that dish or discard it, never to touch our dinner table again. Of course, if he vetoes one dish, it will only be replaced with another veggie-loaded, healthy alternative....but that can be our little secret. Ssssshhhhhh…. ;)

4. Keep Your Enemies Close

OK, so we aren't enemies – more like competitors in this battle, but my goal is to slowly get him on my side. My number one strategy is getting him involved in green habits. I’ve convinced him to stop by Whole Foods on the weekends after we've finished up a family outing. He goes in and gets excited by all the new products to try and sometimes puts a little too much in the cart. He also has fun taking our daughter through the produce section and teaching her the names of different fruits and veggies. We also go to our local farmer's market, called Mākeke here, as a family.  My hubby samples different local cuisines, watches the high school band (the Mākeke  is on school grounds), and chats with vendors as I buy produce for the week. It's a fun experience for us all when living green becomes second nature.

So there you have it, my strategy for living sustainably with a conventional husband. I definitely get frustrated at times, but I keep fighting in hopes that one day he'll be completely on the same page, but in the mean time I'm gaining ground everyday and the best thing is that when I'm victorious, we all win!

This post was contributed by The Green House Guest Writer, Candace Villegas-Giron.

Candace V. Giron is a WAHM, Army wife, and blogger living on Oahu, HI striving to make sustainable choices on a budget, in spite of the high cost of living in paradise. See more from Candace at The Aloha Experiment.

To find out more information about becoming a Guest Writer for The Green House, email me at


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