Does Love Make You Greener? The Pros and Cons


Photo: idea ablaze/Creative Commons

In the haze of new love, it's hard to look objectively at what your relationship is doing to the rest of your life -- and how it's falling into line with green goals.

But while pairing up has its environmental pluses (like shacking up together) it can get in the way of some of your other Earth-saving maneuvers (say your partner isn't keen on letting it "mellow." So which is it? With Valentine's Day around the corner we decided to look at the greenness of Love.

1. Pro: Encouraging Each Other

Tackling any project is easier when you have someone on your side -- and if you're trying to live a greener life, then working together is key.

If you're the more eco-minded half of a couple, you have the power to encourage your partner to take on new green habits (even the easy ones, like turning out the lights when he leaves a room or cutting her showers down to 10 minutes instead of 20). When it comes down to it, a non-greenie is much more likely to listen to his or her significant other than an environmentalist's rant.

And if you're both bona fide eco warriors already, then challenge the team to a bigger effort, like starting a garden, purchasing a solar power system, or volunteering for favorite causes.

2. Con: Letting it Mellow

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Rationally you know that the edict "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down," is an easy, water-saving way to live that's not as gross as it sounds.

But for some, it's not pleasant to lift the lid and see a toilet bowl full of yellow -- in most relationships not on the same page about this, this water-saving habit gets the flush.

3. Pro: Living Together

Photo: bagaball/Creative Commons Sharing a home -- especially an energy-efficient, not-too-huge one -- with another person means the same amount of resources can help keep you both warm, clean, and well-lit.

Those that are thoughtful about space (do you really need that five-bedroom for just the two of you?), share a car, and compromise on location to cut down on commutes can really trim their carbon footprint.

Want to go the extra mile? Make sure you like your in-laws -- you can slash that footprint even more by living with extended family.

4. Con: Long-Distance Relationships

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On the other hand, if you're not living together -- and not even living in the same city, state, or country -- then the impact of a long-distance relationship can multiply your carbon footprint in a very short time.

A round-trip flight from LA to New York once a month adds more than 3/4 tons; traveling between Philadelphia and Boston twice a month contributes 1200 extra miles to your driving total.

Possible solutions include a love for videoconferencing software like Skype and GChat, a green cell phone with plenty of minutes, and offseting your carbon footprint by investing in green technology.

5. Pro: Staying in Love

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Whether or not being in love is the greenest move you can make, studies have shown that staying in love is the better environmental choice: A 2007 study linked higher divorce rates with more use of resources.

Though the report isn't perfect, it does correlate a rise in broken marriages with a rise in people living alone, and thus using more resources than they would if they stayed married. (The one obvious answer: If you're single, get a roommate.)

6. Con: The Wedding

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Hosting an eco-friendly wedding is not impossible -- but it's also not the norm (yet).

Add up the total carbon cost of friends and family traveling to the event; producing the food; cleaning up; and the favors, gifts, and clothes (not to mention the honeymoon) and you've got a one-day shindig that the environment could be paying for years down the road.

7. Tiebreaker: The Kids

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You know what they say: First comes love, then comes marriage...then comes...yep, the kids. And there's no denying that continuing to populate the Earth is one sure-fire way to guarantee that we run out of resources that much more quickly (not to mention: babies acquire a lot of stuff).

But is having kids always bad for your green cred? If you choose eco-friendly and used baby gear (and not too much of it) and raise your kids to save the world for the next generation, it just might be the most effective thing you could do.

More about Green Relationships
Could Turning Out Lights Ruin Your Relationship?
Green Your Long-Distance Relationship
Can an Eco-Friendly Pet Name Improve Your Relationship?

Tags: Carbon Footprint | Waste