Why We Like Being Eco-Friendly (& How We Compromise)

You already probably know that Sherry and I do our best to make green decisions around Casa Petersik, but we actually approach the whole eco-friendly issue from two different places. Which means that we don’t always see eye to eye on the lengths that we’ll go to be green.

Sherry’s interest in being green comes from a health & safety standpoint. That usually means limiting unnatural chemicals around our house, on our bodies, and in our food whenever possible. She’s the driving force behind things like filtering our water, gradually shifting into organic food, switching plastic tupperware for glass, cooking with Greenware instead of Teflon, and trading our personal care and cleaning products for their more natural alternatives (we use Tom’s of Maine, Dr. Bronner’s, and Mrs. Meyer’s to name a few).

I, on the other hand, come from a place of energy and waste conservation with my green ideas. Perhaps because my dad, a retiree from the U.S. Department of Energy, has been a big influence on me (which is why an elementary school project of mine featured solar panels and a family vacation once included a stop at a wind farm). So beyond being the nag about turning off lights when we leave a room or turning off the water while brushing, I’m also the reason that we have a rain barrel, a compost bin, and a dual-flush toilet here at Casa Petersik.

Of course neither approach is more or less valid than the other, because we both agree that each has merit (and together they have some pretty nice overlap). But it does cause some sticking points here and there. For instance, despite Sherry’s warnings, I’ve yet to go cold turkey on the “refuse those BPA-laced register receipts” tip because I just find myself being awkward with checkout people. And I’m awkward enough as it is. So after a bit of debate (and many promises of hand-washing on my end), she decided to go easy on me for this one. Gotta love my flexible and understanding lady-wife.

And if it were up to me, we’d have two more rain barrels in the front of our house too. But when Sherry delicately pointed out that the neighbors probably wouldn’t appreciate that aesthetic (and neither would she) I conceded that we didn’t need to line the entire perimeter of our home with giant plastic rain-catchers. If I lived in a dream world we’d also bike more of our errands – but alas, our narrow roads don’t make this very safe (or even very possible) so I’m glad Sherry tamed my inner risk taker on this one.

Clearly, being green around here involves a fair amount of compromise. Just like all aspects of marriage now that I think about it. The bottom line: I respect her reasoning, she respects mine, and we both do our best to be supportive of the other. So even if it’s not a decision that we’d make for ourselves, we’re happy to put in the effort for our other half if it makes them happy. For example, I’ve been willing to use natural deodorant, as long as Sherry’s been willing to put up with me smelling a bit less fresh after working in the yard. And she’s willing to walk our food scraps out to the compost bin even though the garbage can in the kitchen is a few hundred feet closer- just because composting puts a smile on my face. In the end we figure we’re better off having two sometimes-opposing viewpoints because it actually helps us to embrace more green practices in total. We like to think of it as some sort of wide-range eco approach – you know, like a venn diagram with two overlapping circles.

But enough about us. What goes on in your household? Does one of you push the green envelope more than the other? Or for differing reasons? Tell us all about it. And if you want to witness another couple coming to terms with being green together, we recommend a documentary that we watched called No Impact Man. Let’s just say it raises the be-green bar (and involves a husband telling his wife that she can’t use toilet paper). I don’t think Sherry and I are there yet…

Psst- No Impact Man image from here.


  1. Erika says

    You and Sherry have caused me to be a little more “green” about cleaning products and such. I like the way the two of you approach it very rationally. So…keep the tips coming :)
    So far I’ve switched to 7th generation laundry detergent and to Mrs. Meyers Hand Soap. Very small changes, but changes nonetheless. I’m gradually easing into organic food a little bit, but it is so expensive where I live!

  2. says

    One of my professors said once that if you don’t use the energy, someone else will. I never put it in that perspective before, but it makes complete sense. Even if I don’t put 10 gallons of gas in my car and ride my bike to work instead, that 10 gallons of gas isn’t necessarily saved. Someone else will be fueling up their vehicle just as I decide not to do my own.

    So, having said that, my husband and I choose to be repsonsible with our energy consumption. If we can open the windows instead of running the A/C and be comfortable or use our fabric grocery bags instead of the plastic ones, we do. However, we don’t focus largely on things that would inconvenience our lives as typically it would not be a large savings of energy or resources. We do use the low energy lightbulbs and our potty uses about a gallon of water per flush.

    I think as we grow older and as we become parents we may make other decisions as well, but for now, these work for us just fine!

  3. Jennifer says

    Dr. Bronners is on sale at my Target this week. $9.99 I think? (I’m in New England.)

    Excellent post. That movie looks interesting. I’ve heard of the no toilet paper thing. I am not ready to give up on certain luxuries. :-)

  4. Caitlin says

    I push the green envelope more in our family, from sort of a health/enviromental impact stance. I’ve been easing my husband into healthier/organic foods, more natural cleaning products, reusable bags, BPA free water bottles, and the idea of composting. We recycle any bags that aren’t reusable, as well as bottles and cans, etc. I also turn lights off after him, and itch to turn the water off while he’s shaving. I haven’t played the rain barrel card yet, but we did make a “if we have to go to the grocery store, wouldn’t it be better to bike since it’s only about 3 miles away (if we go the long way to get better exercise while helping the planet)?” rule.

    Sometimes we forget or can’t make choices as green as we’d like, but we’re trying to do what we can to make a difference.

  5. says

    I loved that movie! Could not do everything he did but I appreciated his efforts. I am trying to do more reuse to them hopefully elimate the need to recycle so much. Personal water bottles, limiting ziploc for lunches. I have those premium rubbermaid containers- love them! Glass would be ideal but with two boys- one 5 and the other 2- glass everything is a little daunting!

    Our 5 year old’s chore is to take out the recycling which we collect in the kitchen–he he knows how to sort plastic, paper, etc. It is pretty cute watching him do it.

  6. says

    My husband and I are similar to you two. It’s been a growing experience for sure, but a fun one at the same time. It’s almost like a challenge to see what from your lives you make better.

    On a side note… we went to Wal-Mart the other day and they printed the receipt on two sides instead of one. While the receipt still has toxins…it’s less paper being used! Plus, you almost always need to keep your receipt from Wal-mart for easier returns!

  7. says

    I think it’s hard to balance your reasons for being green sometimes. And with the news shouting things like global warming, it can also be scary. I think the most important point is that you are doing something. We all need to do something. I give you guys a hand for living green! I think you are role models to many, and that’s fabulous. :)

  8. says

    I’m really into green. I actually don’t mind paying a litte bit more for some products that are eco-friendly or made from recycled products. Especially when it comes to household products, cause we have 5 animals and one day children and I want us all to be healthy and happy. My husband on the other hand it a little harder to be convinced. I hope one day we will be on the same page.

  9. says

    As first time home buyers and less than two months have passed since we moved into our casa. Time has flown. Before we moved in I had all of these really great ideas and plans of organic eating, natural cleaning products, compost, recycle, etc.. but then we moved in. I’ve been finding it difficult to find the time/energy among renos and cleaning to put significant effort into these mentioned green projects. I cringe everytime I use a paper towel and throw it out. I really want to have a more eco friendly home. Its a lot more work as you probably already know. But its so important for health (sherry) and the planet (john).

    Hopefully I find my green groove soon!

  10. says

    I think that we are very much like you and Sherry. I am more into the food and products where Eric is more into the insulating and re-purposing. But, we both are committed and that committment goes together nicely.

    Next project:rain barrel

  11. Liz says

    Love this post! I’m slowly starting to make greener changes. More like Sherry, from a health and safety standpoint.

    This is a random question but since you mentioned it… Do you have a brand of natural deoderant you would recommend? I am really allergic to anti-perspirant! It’s strange, I’m thinking it might be te aluminum in it. Plus I heard antiperspirant is bad for your health. Thanks!

  12. says

    John, I’m more on your “side” of being green, but I have to admit, after moving to Colorado 3 years ago, I like both of your greeny-ness. Sounds like you guys could benefit from a town like Fort Collins (where I live); we have bike lanes on almost every single road! People in cars drive like they’re on bikes, since most of them also bike! We bike everywhere, as long as we don’t have to lug anything back. I love it. Yay for green living!

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