He threw one beer can in the trash. Then another. Then at least a dozen more. And I didn’t do anything about it.
“He” is my husband’s brother, and it was his trash and his house. My family and I were guests for five days this summer and accomplices to his unsustainable disposal habits.
To speak up or not to speak up?
Back in my Greenpeace days, I would have spoken up loud and clear before the first can hit the bottom of the bin. I used to speak up about a lot of things — tell the waiter how destructive their Styrofoam containers were as I demanded a sheet of aluminum foil for my doggy bag or explain what’s wrong with factory farms while having dinner with meat-eating friends. In fact, an old boyfriend used to call me “Ginny Justice.”
Now that I’m in my late 30s instead of my early 20s, I’ve realized that I probably came across as preachy and a little holier than thou. And I guess I’m old enough now to know that you can’t make people change.
But that doesn’t justify my closed-lip behavior at my brother-in-law’s house. I’m sure there could have been a tactful way to point it out without getting confrontational. It’s too late for that now. But, hey, Christmas is only five months away. Perhaps we can nudge him to get with the recycling program with some easy-to-tote containers.
In all seriousness, do you face the same dilemmas when you’re a guest in someone’s home and witness far-from-eco behavior? Do you feel like you have an obligation to say something, or do you think it’s rude to try to tell someone how they should live in their own home?
Or will you be loading up on eco-gifts to hand out around the holidays, too?