How Eco Living Has Damaged My Relationships
I need to get something off my chest, and I am certain it’s on everyone else’s chests too.
Living an eco lifestyle drives a wedge between you and the rest of the world. It puts you into really awkward situations. And most horrible of all, it damages close relationships.
The most heated conversations I’ve had with my husband of 2 years (partner of 6.5y years), have been related to my ‘eco living’ decisions. No joke. We are pretty good when it comes to discussing things openly: we never let anything get to an ‘argument’, as we are so bluntly honest with each other on a daily basis. Communication is the thing we do best as a couple.
But the only times I have walked out onto the driveway in a huff, wanted to scream with frustration, and throw my eco-toys out of the cot, was to do with eco-living related disagreements. Think meat eating, natural medicines, natural contraceptives, and general ‘Kate flipping the world on its head’ discussions.
It’s not even that he’s opposed to how I want to live with less footprint on the planet. He’s incredibly on board with all the crazy things I do, and puts up with my constant natural deodorant trials, kombucha making, and nights of endless research. In fact, he constantly shows me up with his own eco efforts. It’s simply a journey I am so very far down, and when someone isn’t EXACTLY there with you, it’s impossible to talk about it without feeling like your very core is being trampled on and misunderstood: for both involved in the conversation.
Once, I also made my best friend cry because of my passion for ethical fashion. It’s a moment I never thought I would share. I still feel shitty about it, but here goes. (I’ve asked for her permission to share this too).
One afternoon, my bestie and flatmate were hanging out. I was busy working on my laptop (classic entrepreneurial move) in the kitchen. They popped their heads out and said “we’re going to have a girly movie night! We’re off to get matching Pyjamas from The Warehouse! Want to come?” I looked at them (probably with disgust to be honest) and said “no thank you. Did you want to borrow some of my PJs instead?” I cannot remember exactly how the conversation went after that, but the gist is:
I didn’t want them to purchase PJs without needing them, from a place that exploits people to make them, for the sake of one fun girly night.
I expressed this, trying to be mutual and pleasant: but they’re my close friends, so I felt more able to be honest and share openly about how I felt in that moment.
They felt bad and condemned when I spoke up.
I was too big mouthed and passionate.
They were only doing what they know, what is the norm, and what happens everyday.
We ended up in tears holding each other on my bed.
You see, when you talk about ethical fashion or eco living, you’re not just telling someone to buy a product instead of another. You’re asking someone to change their core values and beliefs. You’re asking them to question their very existence, the way they live, what they do on a daily basis, and why they do it. You’re suggesting they go outside of the norm. You’re encouraging them to alienate themselves from current society. And that’s hard. It’s hard to do, but it’s even harder to talk about and try to get others to follow suit.
For example, suggesting someone shop at a bulk bin store, actually changes their whole life. They need to make space for a shelf in their pantry. They need a cupboard dedicated to empty jars to keep before the shop. They need to find a local bulk bin store and work out how they are going to get there. The shop will have different open hours to the supermarket; they may have to shop at a different time of day to usual.
To add the cherry on top, in any situation, you have to explain WHY: and that means telling someone that THEY are the problem.
No one wants to be told they are hurting others without knowing it. No one wants to be told they are destroying the environment that they enjoy. But it’s the facts.
All this: and you expect there to be no tears, your friendship damaged, or your relationship at stake?? No way.
‘Going green’ is basically saying goodbye to living life on the down low. It’s saying ‘ta-ta’ to being normal and low key. It opens room for you to offend others far more easily, let yourself down regularly, and fail daily.
No matter how hard you try to keep to yourself and not ‘preach the ‘green message’, these conversations and situations will follow you everywhere.
‘Going green’ is going to dislocate you from society. But don’t worry: society is slowly catching up.
In the meantime, know that you’re not the only one getting raised eyebrows and rolled eyes sent your way. You’re not the only one arguing with your friend in the mall over that $5 t shirt, and you’re not the only one trying to explain to your grandmother that you will still live if you don’t eat much meat.
I’m here too. We got this.
NOTE: Both my bestie and husband gave their permission for me to share this.
Another note: My relationships are doing fine and dandy, there’s nothing to worry about, but it’s just not all butterflies and fairies all the time.