Inspiring Friends & Family
How to engage friends and family in more sustainable practices, without being *that* keeno.
As a teenager my younger brother frequently referred to me as a treehugger, he meant it in a teasing way, but in truth he just didn't get me. Although he's now a bit of a petrolhead (I'm not sure he'd appreciate that) this is also a guy who asked for a peach tree for his birthday and is growing his own tomatoes. Similarly my Dad always loved to play devil's advocate when I passionately argued with him about the importance of sustainability over family dinners. It can be hugely disheartening when even your closest family and friends aren't quite with you.
So how can you persuade a more open mindset without being too abrasive? Here's my top five tips:
1. Talk about your purpose
Telling people why they should believe or do something is never going to be successful because as a rule, people don't really like being told what to do (take all the drama we've had over wearing masks lately... that's for another day). Instead, you should talk about your purpose, why you do or believe certain things as it comes more naturally for people to try and see why you think the way you do. You never know when you might be planting a small seed that people consider later on.
2. Educate carefully
You don't need hear me say "don't be pushy", I know you know this. The best way to help educate other people is to do your. Read up on important topics and be aware of myths around them that you can debunk for others, always make sure you have some kind of evidence for your point but also be wary of bombarding people with academic references.
3. Give easy examples
Making sustainable living seem accessible is part of the big challenge for consumers generally, when it comes to family and friends, leading by example is a great way to subtly demonstrate simple sustainable swaps, like taking your own lunchbox or reusable cutlery to a picnic, or having a cute reusable coffee cup.
Sharing sustainable gifts is great way to introduce people to more sustainable products. This way, they don't have to spend time researching products, or spend money on something they're unsure about. People love to receive a gift that's thoughtful so start with something enjoyable like natural candles vs petroleum candles or something pretty like coloured glass straws to take to bars and restaurants.
5. Make sure they know you're a resource
By using all of the points above in a gentle and casual way will let your people know that they can come to you with questions and curiosity which is typically how most of us started on this journey anyway. Giving them answers and letting them know they can come back with more questions or seek advice will make their journey to more sustainable living much easier.