All You Need Is Less, Eco-Friendly Living

3 Things to Remember If You’re Eco-friendly & Your Spouse Isn’t

“I’m eco-friendly. My spouse isn’t. How do I convince them to change? Are their actions canceling out my own?”

That was the crux of a question posted by Pete on the Sweet Madeleine Facebook page.  Today I took a few minutes to make a video answering his question, featuring wind blown hair, double chins, and even a surprise appearance by a mischievous puppy.

I’ll summarise the key points after the jump for any video-averse folks out there.

1. You can only control your own behaviour

As much as you’d like to snap your fingers and make someone do what you want, it’s impossible. You can explain, convince, encourage, cajole – but a the end of the day, the only behaviour you control is your own. The sooner you realise this, the easier your life will be.

So, Pete, you can definitely try to make it easier for your wife to make eco-friendly choices – by putting recycling bins in every room, a compost bucket right beside the garbage can, etc. – but just know that at the end of the day, you’re only responsible for your own choices.

2. Live in accordance with your beliefs

If you truly believe that it’s important to mitigate your negative environmental impact on the world around you, you’ll do it. Regardless of how others are choosing to act.

Make the decisions you feel are right for you and the environment, and sleep better knowing you’ve stayed true to your values and helped make the world a better place.

3. Don’t underestimate your impact

Pete, it doesn’t matter if you never convince your wife to become more eco-friendly, her actions don’t negate yours. The impact of your choices goes beyond your relationship and far beyond the walls of your own home.

You never know when you could be inspiring someone by making eco-friendly choices like opting out of one-time-use plastic items like utensils and straws by bringing your own,  choosing to give and asking to receive experiences rather than things, or bringing your own grocery and produce bags to the grocery store.


Do you have questions or topics you’d like me to blog about? Do you prefer videos or written posts? Add your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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  • Reply James Hopes July 8, 2017 at 11:33 PM

    You should definitely do both writing and videos as they’re both brill in different ways! Your writing is always stunning, but loved the video too – nice to put an accent to the writing!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine July 9, 2017 at 12:51 AM

      Thanks, James! I laughed initially at your comment about me having an accent, and then I remembered that when first watched it back there’s was a point where I said “Sooo” and I sounded like SUCH a stereotypical Canadian 😀 You may be right.
      Glad you liked it!

      • Reply James Hopes July 9, 2017 at 1:00 AM

        Was going to mention about liking the video because of the accent, eyes and smile but thought that sounded a bit stalkerish so left it with the accent

  • Reply Kris Hughes July 9, 2017 at 4:50 PM

    Even if your spouse isn’t “cancelling out” your eco-friendly actions, zillions of other people are. (Or not!) You just have to do what you can. However, due to proximity, you are in a great position to mitigate your spouse’s carelessness by helping them recycle their stuff, make better choices, and most of all not have children.

  • Reply Jen July 14, 2017 at 4:04 AM

    Thanks Madeleine, this resonates with me. I find the challenge is when making joint decisions on things which have environmental impact, such as whether or not to spray weedkiller in the garden, whether to buy new or used furniture, what kind of car etc; have to let a lot of stuff go (but I am sure he feels the same!).

    • Reply sweetmadeleine July 14, 2017 at 3:26 PM

      This is so true. There are some areas that are easy to agree to disagree about, but when you have to make a joint decision its really easy to see value clashes.

      I suppose in these cases it comes down to communication and compromise. Thanks so much for adding this to the discussion!

      • Reply Jen July 15, 2017 at 6:44 AM

        Love your work <3 Thanks for all the inspiration!

  • Reply Ten Things | Moral Fibres - UK Eco Green Blog July 22, 2017 at 11:01 PM

    […] 10.  And finally, I’m really lucky and don’t have this problem, but if you do then here are 3 things to remember if you’re eco friendly and your spouse isn’t. […]

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