Living in a Divided Household

I’ve been really encouraged by all of the blogs and articles related to the benefits of healthy habits, zero waste, mindfulness and anything else in the well-being category. While all of these authors do a great job of explaining the what, why and how, I haven’t come across anyone who tackles the sensitive subject of adversity.

When your own personal efforts to buy less, use less, make better diet and exercise choices are up against the conflicting priorities of someone you love, the ability to change is exponentially harder but not impossible. In fact, there’s a good chance that, if you don’t give in to adversity, you may do more than just change yourself. You could change the negative influence around you.

As I watched fresh-cooked beef, at least a pound of it, go down the garbage disposal last night, I was appalled. Though I don’t eat meat besides seafood, the rest of my family does. It’s a big challenge to cook separate meals each night, and since my transition to a plant-based diet July of last year, food waste has become a big issue.

Unlike the rest of my family, I don’t mind eating leftovers. In fact, eating leftovers saves a lot of time and effort. My husband and daughter will eat some things reheated but not all. This isn’t always an issue because we have two dogs that are happy to eat leftover meat especially when it’s paired with homegrown green beans or sweet potatoes. Last night’s beef was tainted with store bought tomato sauce, so down the drain it went. I considered giving it to one of the three widows in our neighborhood, but they eat like I do, so the gift would’ve been more of an insult. The positive aspect of this event was the discussion that ensued. There was an agreement to cook less in the future or to set aside some of the meat before adding sauce so that it could be converted to dog food. That conversation wouldn’t have taken place several months ago for a variety of reasons. Progress.

“What did you use in the laundry? This stuff stinks! It’s giving me a headache!” For three weeks, I successfully converted from dryer sheets to wool balls scented with spike lavender essential oil. There were some complaints about static that were resolved by adding a little bit of cleaning vinegar to the wash cycle (natural fabric softener). But the day I ran out of spike lavender ended the successful transition. I mistakenly used regular lavender essential oil on the dryer balls, and some people obviously have a sensitivity to it. I had to rewash three loads of laundry. Talk about taking two steps forward and about five steps back! The compromise was to do separate loads of wash. Since that’s too much like having to cook two different meals each night and would probably waste more energy, dryer sheets were back.

Instead of viewing these setbacks as failure, it’s good to see them as progress. There is awareness. Over time, the benefits will be more apparent. Well-being doesn’t happen overnight. Small financial savings add up over time. Getting accustomed to using and consuming less becomes habitual and can be leveraged to make other impactful changes. We are already using half as many cotton swabs, half as many paper napkins, half as many paper tissues, no store bought cosmetics besides eye makeup, no disposable feminine products (besides tampons my daughter won’t give up but has to buy herself unless she wants me to get her cups), and hardly any paper towels.

Though there is resistance and adversity, good changes are taking place. With a strong conviction to do the right thing, there will always be progress. The key is to avoid taking an “all or nothing” approach and focusing on small changes that provide cumulative benefits over time. You, too, can make progress in the face of adversity. Don’t let a divided household hold you back!

©, February 28, 2018

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