How to inspire others to be more eco-friendly (without sounding preachy)
You asked us:
This is a toughie! If you’re making sustainable lifestyle shifts, it can be frustrating to watch your friends and family spray toxic cleaning products, use plastic bags, and drive to different parking spots within the same lot to save 10 seconds. We know (deep breaths).
But before you write a speech about the chemicals in air fresheners and the horrors of plastic everything — here are some tips we’ve picked up from navigating our own social circles, while working to maintain eco-friendly lifestyles.
Show, don’t tell
While you may be in the habit of carrying your bamboo straw and reusable mug wherever you go, a lot of people aren’t. So instead of talking about the harmfulness of single-use plastic to your friend as she’s sipping out of a plastic straw, you’ll likely have more success (and fewer defensive eye rolls) by proudly *and repeatedly* using your reusables.
The more you eat your salads with a bamboo fork and a smile, the more people around you will be reminded to get their own. Plus, leading by example is a great way to get people thinking, “if they can do it, so can I.”
Of course, being eco-friendly is about more than using bamboo products. But this mentality works for most things like eating less meat, composting, and shopping locally.
Plan more outdoorsy activities
Research shows that the desire to conserve is tied to our connections with nature. And the more we spend time outside and empathize with nature, the more we feel a responsibility to protect Mother Earth.
So get a group together for a hike, camping trip, or farmers market run. Go for a walk during lunch breaks with a coworker. Or host a plant-based, zero-waste picnic. There are so many ways to get outside and remember why our individual actions matter.
Make it fun
Try introducing your loved ones to eco-friendly things you love. If your fave thrift store is having a sale, invite a friend to scope out the threads with you. Or ask your mom to dinner at your neighborhood vegan restaurant.
Share how easy (and affordable) it can be
Many people are turned off by eco-friendly options because they think it’ll be a massive inconvenience. For example, DIY cleaning products may sound like a lot of work. But it’s essentially grabbing baking soda and vinegar from the pantry. And putting extra reusable bags in the car is an easy way to remember to bring them to the market.
Little tips and tricks can be game changers in the beginning, but just remember to know your audience. And suggest a few tips at a time rather than everything you’ve learned from the past decade.
Gift the gift of zero-waste
Earth-friendly gifts make for awesome stocking stuffers and “just thinking of you” presents.
Here are some of our favorite sustainable-minded gifts:
- Reusable mugs
- Bamboo straw
- Reusable totes
- Bamboo utensils
- Reusable zip locks
- Reusable water bottles
- Shampoo bars
- A plant-based cookbook
And check out more zero-waste gifts at this post.
Celebrate the small wins
If you notice a co-worker bringing a reusable lunch bag, give them a compliment. Or if your roommate says she’s trying to use fewer paper towels, tell her “that’s awesome!” When we celebrate the small wins, we’re more likely to want to continue making changes… and the cycle continues.
Do you, but don’t be defensive
When you’re optimistic and excited about sustainability– others will be way more likely to hop on board. But there’s always going to be that person trying to bring you down with ridiculous comments like “straws don’t matter” and “none of our actions really make a difference.” Try not to get defensive! Just do you and keep moving forward.
Do you ever struggle with being the only vegan at the dinner table? Check out this post.
And if you want to learn more zero-waste ideas, here are some fun reads:
- 10 easy ways to introduce zero-waste into your life
- 10 Eco-friendly habits you need to adopt now
- 9 Simple ways to phase plastic out of your life