Photo: How to establish

Kids are never too young to contribute to "green" house rules. (Credit: Kelly Woods)

Are you the eco-friendliest person in your home? I am.

Family members can be the hardest to "green" — I know and I'm paid to do this!

Comment on this blog with how you successfully "greened" a family member. The entire Queen of Green community (and I) can try it, too.

You'll also be entered to win up to a $100 prize package of sustainable goodies (e.g., a recycled textile area rug, rechargeable batteries, a stainless steel coffee pot or LED nightlight) donated by IKEA Canada (@IKEACanada)! (Draw date: May 21, 2015.)

When the world needs us to recycle less, use hankies, cloth diapers and nontoxic deodorant, and get into nature, how do you get your loved ones to buy in?

Step one: Appreciate that most people are doing their best (and value the same things you do)!

Step two: Host a family meeting to create new house rules.

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How to establish "green" house rules

  • To avoid eye rolling and the "groan zone" — where people get irritated and bring low energy — provide pizza and brownies (or both).
  • Hold space. Trust that you know enough to lead!
  • Ask each family member to contribute at least one new house rule. No rule is too small or too big. (You'll be surprised at the solutions already in them.)
  • Write the rules down and post for all to see. Use sticky notes on a dedicated wall or bulletin board.
  • Set dates for when new house rules should be implemented (consider offering a prize or incentive).
  • If competition suits your family, make it a challenge. Who can save the most water? Whose house rule most reduced the power bill?
  • Challenge your relatives to do the same or invite the neighbours to play along.
  • Be open to the idea that things will turn out better than planned!

Submit your #HouseRules to IKEACanada

Take another minute, before April 27th, to submit a rule and share it online with IKEACanada and on Twitter @IKEACanada hashtag #HouseRules. You'll be eligible to win one of five sustainability product kits (in addition to my draw here).

The best part about going "green" as a family?

Embracing being on a team can make most of us more effective. And collaborative solutions are more likely to work than trying to go it alone.

Please comment below with advice on how you successfully "greened" a family member or share a new house rule and be entered to win a $100 prize package of sustainable goodies donated by IKEA Canada @IKEACanada (Winner is Emily of Ontario!).

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

April 18, 2015

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May 15, 2015
9:11 AM

I got my family started on recycling plastic and paper. We had always recycled metal and glass, but only because we couldn’t burn it, as we used to do with the majority of our waste. We live in rural Manitoba so we have no waste pickup, but we do have access to a waste station. There, you have to pay to drop off landfill waste. Little did I know until a couple years ago, they accept all recyclable products as well. And the kicker, at no charge. So while we were burning virtually all of our waste, we could’ve been taking it to the dump, to be recycled, for free. Once I finally found out this was an option, I got my parents to buy a couple extra waste bins solely for recycling. Now instead of just recycling glass and metal, we recycle most plastics and paper. Obviously I had some convincing to do, but it paid off in the end. I actually did a waste audit as part of a project for one of my university environmental courses, and found that we now had very little waste now being burned(only the non-recyclable materials). The amount of waste we now divert from being emitted into the atmosphere is encouraging. To top it all off, we started composting a few years ago too and now our garburator sits idle(I know we should uninstall it but I’ll have to do some pretty good convincing to my dad).

May 13, 2015
12:37 PM

Well, we only have one super small garbage container. So, it’s super inconvenient to throw anything away! This helps us consider what it is we’re throwing away and how not to do it in the future. My husband has been great about everything! He may not use our cloth wipes — but he does help wash and re-stack them!

May 12, 2015
8:25 PM

Many years ago as a teenager I became the first vegetarian in my family. Until then, red meat, chicken or pork was a special part of every family dinner. I knew that I needed to take responsibility for my own healthful food choices, and I also started cooking a veggie dinner for everyone once or twice a week. While I didn’t set out to convert or establish a “green rule” (e.g. Meatless Mondays), leading by example proved to be a powerful motivator toward less meat in our family. A new world of textures and flavours opened up, and we found ourselves having fun with new, meatless recipes. Initially my brother tormented me with spicy peperoni (which I had Loved), but within two years he, too, had shifted into full veggie gear. Turns out that super tastiness sense of culinary adventure compelling reasons were a formidable Green force in our family!

May 11, 2015
7:35 AM

We buy organic/natural personal care products, cleaning products and mostly organic food. I also talk a lot about the whys and research behind it, so my partner understands why it’s important to me — stay healthy, preserve the environment, fight against mega-corporations!

Currently I’m researching couches and getting frustrated at the lack of affordable options that aren’t sprayed/glued/offgassing something!

May 10, 2015
9:40 PM

I use to be very uneducated about the environment, but now that I am actively learning I am constantly infiltrating my home with eco friendly ideals. I started going grocery shopping with my dad and I’d talk about the benefits of eating organic, how the life of plastics don’t end when we throw them away, about the harmful chemicals in cleaners, detergents, and body care products, also the effect that eating meat has on our bodies, the planet, and the suffering on the planet. Before I knew it our home was filled with organic and more sustainable foods, reusable water bottles, cloth trash bags, cloth shopping bags, homemade body care products stored in mason jars, and chemical free detergent and dish soap. Also, I am a strict vegetarian and during Sunday dinners one of my family members would always crack a joke about my veggie lifestyle

May 10, 2015
12:17 PM

My wife and I recycle or reuse 100% of our household waste. We compost 99% of the vegetable and solid leavings from the kitchen and recycle ALL of our paper,metal,plastic and other products or reuse what is reusable. I no longer put out a regular garbage bin but only the recyclable material I cannot use.

May 09, 2015
7:40 PM

We are a family of 3. My toddler is a born-greener : cloth diapered (and wipes), breastfed, a majority of second hand clothes and toys. My husband ismore difficult to bring on the green side. I preach by example. He sees me using all those green and home made products on our son and I and eventually he tries them. I’ll win him one change at the time.

May 09, 2015
6:34 PM

My family doesn’t have much of a choice. I buy the household products. Doing laundry and running the dishwasher is only allowed during off peak hours and only when there are full loads. If they don’t know if something is recyclable or compostable then they ask.

May 09, 2015
4:24 PM

When watering planters or outdoor washing( car, camping gear etc)do it over the grass. It drives me nuts seeing all these people letting water run down their driveways and all over the road. Besides the grass helps filter out whatever you just washed with anyway.

May 09, 2015
12:15 PM

These are the ways we “green” our family. We are using cloth diapers and cloth potty trainers full time. This is a big help in terms of the garbage in landfills. Our lunch for work and school are always packed in reusable containers and water is always in a re-usable water bottle. We hang our clothes 99 percent of the time. We don’t use K cups, this is a no no to me and my husband agreed. All our shampoos and soaps are all handmade by me using all natural ingredients which I know will biodegrade readily. We totally don’t use any products that have ingredients that can cause cancer and disrupt hormones and is not good for environment e.g. SLS,paraben, fragrance. There are so much more to list!

May 09, 2015
11:09 AM

We’ve all moved away from paper towels and use rags that we rewash. Our little one is learning how to save water when brushing and washing, but has been part of it for much longer since we used cloth diapers on her! We’re teaching her abt recycling and not buying throw away junk. And my stellar hubby taught me all about hankies.

May 07, 2015
4:50 AM

No more garbage bags!! Cloth, paper or recyclable only. I finally have my Mom using cloth washable bags and cloth hand knitted dish rags. Also #1 rule — No Water Bottles Permitted !! I love our recycling prg. we have a bin for paper, plastics and cardboard!

May 06, 2015
4:31 AM

When we bought our house we were finally able to get an outdoor clothesline, which was a huge green house upgrade for us. With a baby in cloth diapers, that drying rack saves us multiple dryer cycles on low heat. We still hang indoors in the winter, but I love hanging stuff outdoors on a nice sunny day and finding it dry a few hours later.

May 05, 2015
6:32 AM

how did i green my family? well, my kids are young enough that i can set the rules and standards and how we live is the only norm that they know. however, my husband is a bit harder. i find the most effective is to take away alternatives. i just gave away the dryer, so now we HAVE to hang our laundry out to dry!

May 05, 2015
5:09 AM

My husband didn’t even recycle before we met.
Now he cloth diapers, and loves it!!!

May 05, 2015
5:09 AM

I trained my dog to pick up litter. Whenever we’re out walking he now actively looks for plastic water and pop bottles, and plastic containers. He’ll even crawl under hedges and cars if he sees them! If they fit in his mouth, he picks them up and carries them to the nearest bin, or home, whichever comes first.

All the neighbours know that he does this, and I think are getting the idea that less waste and litter is something we can all strive for. If the dog can do it, so can the people! :) My niece and nephew have also learned from the dog, and they pick up litter if they’re out walking with him. Though I don’t think they do it when they’re out walking on their own yet.

May 05, 2015
4:52 AM

After years of gentle reminders and living by example, my husband FINALLY remembers to refuse a bag at the store, even when he is only buying an item or two and forgot to bring in a reusable bag. It makes me smile every time.

May 04, 2015
8:16 PM

My Father, as much as I love him, is not green. I did however convince him to ditch plastic bags and he now uses cloth bags. I went out and bought him a bunch of cloth bags and said by using these he’s reducing the waste of oil by not using petroleum based plastic bags. Not a huge greening per se but it’s a start :)

May 04, 2015
6:37 PM

After years of slowly fine-tuning my husband’s water wasting habits, he now has better behaviours for washing dishes (he used to wash dishes without filling the sink…just let the water run and squeeze a dab of dish soap onto each and every dish and wash it under the running water). I have also converted him into being a fan of the Queen of Green’s homemade laundry soap. Just today he used a sample of regular laundry detergent for a load of his own laundry that came in the mail and thought he was in for a treat. He actually ended up admitting that he was a convert to the scent-free natural soap as the strong perfume smell actually turned him off! I also was able to convince him of the benefits of cloth diapering, although I would have cloth diapered regardless of his opinion since I do the diaper changes 99% of the time!

May 04, 2015
6:33 PM

A few years ago I started making my own deodorant (baking soda, cornstarch and coconut oil). My husband and sister have teased me about it ever since…even though it works better than any deodorant I’ve ever purchased! Well, about a week ago my husband ran out of his Old Spice. I told him to give my home made concoction a try

May 04, 2015
6:14 PM

I always get buy in by ‘just trying things’ for trial periods, if they don’t work and make no sense we can always go back to the original way/product. No pressure on participants:) Usually they work and make sense!

May 04, 2015
6:10 PM

My mom is a really good sport.. I’ve helped her reduce her meat consumption, eat only sustainable seafood, and avoid using Tassimo discs to name a few.

She was always leading by example by using reusable travel mugs and grocery bags.

May 04, 2015
4:14 PM

We use litter free lunch kits and reusable water bottles always and it makes a huge difference in the amount of litter ( no ziplock bags, juice boxes, juice boxes) try it. Tupperwear has a good one Lunch ‘n Things.

May 04, 2015
4:09 PM

We like to consider ourselves “early adopters” and were greening up our house (and our lives) long before it became fashionable to do so…probably as we both had “green” parents! We are always looking for new ways in which to minimize our impact on our environment, be it through personal habits, diet, cleaning, or home improvement.

One thing that we have done that was not an option until fairly recently, is getting rid of our second car (which had been necessary before we retired), and purchasing pedal assist motors for our bikes. We had bikes we loved and they now have become our “second car” — the bikes are now real workhorses as we can go farther faster, and going uphill laden with groceries is no longer a slog — we even have a trailer for bigger loads. Now our rule is: our car goes out only if it is absolutely necessary (eg. Lumber), combining errands into one trip is part of that, and as a result we are greener (and fitter) for it — we ride our bikes a lot more than before. Also, it is possible to get a nice workout with an electric bike, despite what some folks think (just reduce/turn off the assist).

May 04, 2015
2:55 PM

Cleaning products. I am slowly convincing others that the power of vinegar, baking soda, hot water, and lemons are the way to go! I set the example, and am teaching my daughter’s that “clean” doesn’t mean “chemical”. My youngest knows I am cleaning when she smells vinegar!

May 04, 2015
1:33 PM

I have recently transitioned to zero disposables for diapering my second baby. With my first I used cloth during the day but a disposable at night and disposable wipes. This time around I have started using cloth at night as well as only cloth wipes. I also have always been able to exclusively breastfeed, and I made and will make all my own baby food, which eliminates the packaging waste of jars and pouches. I have also been opening up dialogue at home with my husband and 3 year old about reducing our waste and single-use plastic items. I can see my husband starting to make small changes because of it. This is just the start of our eco-journey, but I feel very strongly about the importance of reducing our footprint not just for us, but for my children and their children.

May 04, 2015
12:59 PM

Some things are easy to control as the mom who does the shopping (ie zippy bag purchase or no, glass vs plastic) and as the mom who does the laundry (clothes line drying all the way!), but you can’t be in the house 24/7 and in a house of 6 with 4 kids ranging from 14 to 21, you would think a rule would be heeded (hah!. I guess our biggest change was when the kids were little we sang the reduce reuse recycle song, made sure to recycle, used fabric bags, avoided produce bags, chose less packaged options. Now our children choose glass over plastic, recycle everything, hang laundry, turn out lights. I asked my most ‘green’ child for an example and she said ‘talk about what you did when we were young because we are all green, we all try, so you must have done something right! That’s enough for me right there :)

May 04, 2015
12:10 PM

Wow i love this idea! I am not sure if i have just one house rule but we installed solar panels on our garage this year and everytime we save enough energy so that we are in the negative we celebrate! We just did this for the first time yesterday! Things like hanging my laundry to dry, and installing LED lighting in most of the house, and using my slow cooker instead of my stove seems to make a huge impact! We also made a change from our gas car to an fully electric car this year so we actually charge this car from the solar panels as well! Double win!!

May 04, 2015
11:57 AM

We just recently implemented a new ‘rule’ in our house that helps us waste less water. We drink water 90% of the time in our house but the water doesn’t always get all drunk up. So we have put a large mason jar beside the sink so that instead of pouring perfectly good water down the drain at the end of the day, it goes into the jar so it can be used to water our indoor salad garden!

May 04, 2015
11:47 AM

My spouse and I are equally green, and while my mom’s not a major consumerist, we’ve talked about a lot of issues over the years so that she’s taking most of the same steps we are! Nice to know that when she babysits my kids they ate getting the same quality food and lack of plastic toys, just like at home.

May 04, 2015
11:44 AM

Lots of positive reinforcement — and showing others how much they can save on hydro bills just by turning down the heat and putting on a sweater!

Apr 28, 2015
11:06 PM

After many years of ranting about the repercussions of environmentally harmful products to no avail, I recently took on a different approach… When my niece graduated from the ever so harmful baby shampoos of our childhood, I took the opportunity to hand her mother some products to try. I spoke of how good they were for the scalp and hair, and how there were no harmful additives that would irritate her daughters skin condition. Within days she was raving about the products. She didn’t care that they were “earth friendly”, just that they worked far better than expected!

Sometimes, the proof is in the pudding. Rather than push the negative effects of harmful product, try to look for opportunities to give family members a “Risk free trial” of something you already love and stand behind. Being combative and pushy about your beliefs is rarely effective, particularly when it comes to family since they aren’t afraid to push right back! Lots of people believe that the words “natural” and “biodegradable” mean “less effective” or “less convenient”. Once you break beyond that mental wall, the world is your oyster!

Apr 27, 2015
8:15 PM

I don’t do packaging. Slowly but surely I have got my hubby to use fabric shopping bags and to avoid plastic bags and packaging at the supermarket or market. Now we just have bunches or carrots or dill and no plastic.
I’m very influenced by the “zero waste” ideal and we’ve all worked at reducing packaging, re-purpsosing or repairing, and shopping local. We love the farmers Market!

Apr 27, 2015
5:03 PM

I have been a green machine for a long time. I used cloth diapers before they had come back in “style.” I refuse to buy over packaged goods, never buy paper towel, am vegetarian and on and on. I also teach a unit to grade 11 students on environment. I got to take three students to listen to David Suzuki speak last fall ( My hero). My students are getting it — they really are. Nevertheless, I just wish other people wouldn’t groan, roll their eyes and ignore my advice. We are all responsible for changing our ways. We can all make changes. My weakness is the use of water — I need to learn to be more careful.

Apr 27, 2015
3:36 PM

This is a really great article, touching on something that can be tricky to do! While I’m still grappling with how to encourage everyone in my family to join in to the green lifestyle, I have found one beautiful little moment has brightened up my efforts and been a source of encouragement.

My youngest was at the time 3 years old, and I began small with her. If we were in a public washroom that had an option of hand dryers or paper towels, she often wanted to use paper towels, partly because of being nervous about the loud noise of the dryer, and partly because the paper towel dispensers were SO FUN to use! So I started talking about trees, and asked her if she knew where the towels came from. I explained to her about using less so there wouldn’t need to be so many trees cut down.

I continued on in life until a month or two later when she came out of a public washroom with my husband who quietly told me that she had only taken ONE paper towel so no extra trees would need to be cut down.

You know that moment when you realize SOMETHING got through? That was one!! I was so excited! :) She is now 4 and knows ALL about trees and saving them, and she and my older daughters are talking continually about packaging and waste. It has been a really good thing and is causing a lot of change in our household. :)

Apr 27, 2015
1:04 PM

House rule: Apologize to the Earth every time you break a ‘green’ rule — it is after all the Earth that is being hurt.

This rule was the main thing that helped shifted the focus from me enforcing ‘green’ rules to everyone being aware of and accountable for their actions.

Apr 27, 2015
11:58 AM

The first rule is to not lay out ‘rules’. Rules imply coercion and criticism. Lead by example and education. If we are really trusting that everyone is doing their best, this kind of leadership establishes a strong foundation of commitment.

Also, always move with your highest vision and trust that the rest of the household is, too. Maybe last year we got something wrong, so this year we can improve our efforts with a new, more sophisticated approach. Been using natural laundry soap in recyclable containers—change to soap nuts, but factor in the carbon footprint—those things come from another continent.

Above all, vote with your conscience. Elected officials must be put into the position of leadership from the top.

Apr 27, 2015
10:08 AM

We have a house rule against buying personal care products with Triclosan or polyethylene (plastic microbeads).

Apr 23, 2015
9:01 AM

I love the “eye” rolling comment! Oh, how my family would laugh. I raised my family and children Eco Friendly and green and It is has not always been met with agreement. I am not in Canada, so I don’t need to be entered into the contest. I enjoy your blog. I am an Eco Mom Blogger, as well. Thank you!

Apr 22, 2015
6:44 PM

I am so thankful to have been raised “green” with parents who bought used everything and re-used plastic and glass. Now it has been challenging to pack lunches with minimal waste as we both work outside the home. This year (after years of trying to convince my husband), we moved into town and gave up a vehicle so that at least one of us walks to work and the kids walk nearly every day. It has been amazing health wise and surprisingly we have hardly noticed missing a vehicle! House rule: walk unles absolutely necessary to drive:)

Apr 22, 2015
10:35 AM

One of our house rules is that if you leave the light on in your room, you own the household one dollar, to cover the wasted energy costs. Love this concept and can totally see the kids getting involved in this.

Apr 22, 2015
8:51 AM

My husband has become vegetarian for me(vegan), and has taken it on with gusto! He makes fantastic vegetarian meals, and great vegan versions of beautiful foods. We also now only use soap berries for our laundry, (to our guests surprise)and I put up a clothesline to dry our clothes. They of course smell amazing! I started gardening last year,(we finally lived where there was a space), and this year, he has taken it to a new level. Pushed by the drought fears in California I believe, he has created spaces for us to plant all the veggies we want. I taught him about the importance of buying organic seeds, and how to use our compost to aid in the plants health. He is now researching how to make your own organic fertilizers, based on our veggies needs. I don’t believe in antibiotics, and he now understands why I do not take birth control, and is willing to sacrifice in that way. Also, he now uses the juicer pulp to make dog treats. He has learned that initial discomfort over a new way of daily life is short lived and worth it in the long run.

Apr 21, 2015
12:40 PM

My husband is terrible at leaving lights on. So instead of chasing after him turning them off myself, I’d wait until he was in bed before telling him he left the basement lights on. He got so frustrated at having to get out of bed that he turns them off before he leaves a room now!

I’m also taking my green mission public by sharing tips and hurdles on my blog ( and Facebook page ( We now have incentive to demonstrate waste, water, and energy savings because in going to share how we’re doing!

Apr 21, 2015
10:51 AM

I am lucky that my family has happily [mostly] “greened” along with me over the years. The most recent success was help from my husband in choosing the eco-friendliest flooring we could find for our family room reno. He was totally on board to avoid VOCs, Formaldehyde and other bad chemicals and ingredients when choosing a floor that we feel safe to have in our home!

Apr 21, 2015
8:12 AM

I’m lucky to have a family with the same environmental viewpoint as myself.. But, changing habits has been a bit harder! I’ve successfully switched my husband over to cloth shopping bags (by being really on top of providing them in the car wherever we go) and re-using a coffee mug at work. I also built a home composter, and made sure we had a container under the kitchen counter, so it was easy to do. For my family, it has been all about integrating small changes into everyday life. Once we have our systems in place, living greener is really easy!

Apr 21, 2015
7:26 AM

this is excellent. i do the grocery shopping so i have started to control what i buy due to packaging, i make granola bars for my man

Apr 18, 2015
8:03 PM

My Mom has always been a green leader in our family. As kids, we were taught to conserve water, buy second-hand, wash windows and mirrors with vinegar, draw on recycled paper, reuse cotton gift bags and never choose toys that needed batteries.

As an adult, I’ve returned the favor to Mother Earth and my own Mom by sharing with her my hand-made non-toxic deoderant and lotion bars in re-cycled and re-usable mason jars. I introduced her to soapnuts for the laundry and taught her what I’ve learned about the hazards of synthetic fabrics. I replaced all the hand and dish soap with baking soda and soapnut powder scented with beautiful, natural essential oils. Our homes have never been cleaner or greener!

How did I convince her? It was easy! Thoughtful gifts that really work are always appreciated. :-)

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