Unfortunately, our environment is changing — and not for the better. Heat waves, melting ice, and CO2 levels are increasing all over the world. It’s now imperative that every inhabitant of this planet makes their own contribution to save it.
Small efforts to reduce your individual footprint, even day-to-day, are what will make the biggest difference in the long run. These efforts include telling your friends about the little ways they can help the planet too.
Your friends want your opinions and advice more than those from a random website or government initiative. When it comes to having a conversation about changing habits and lifestyle, sensitivity and kindness should be paramount for making the conversation productive. Remember that we are all working together toward the same goal.
Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are approaching, and remember how you felt when you realized some of your tried-and-true habits were bad for the planet. If you approach it too harshly your friend could feel attacked just by simply telling them they use too much water to brush their teeth, so thoughtfulness is key. Most importantly though, make sure you’re having an open dialogue with them, not just criticizing their lifestyle.
Emphasizing how you also had to learn a greener lifestyle creates a more comfortable environment and can make your friends more responsive. Also, mentioning steps that you and your friends(s) can take together to become greener is a great way to create and show that you are with them in the process.
Power in numbers
Including friends in your sustainability efforts isn’t just good because it increases awareness, it also expands your network of people to be sustainable with. It’s much easier to commit to change when you have a group to keep you accountable. For example, carpooling with a few of your coworkers can have tons of perks, namely group accountability. If you all agree to travel together, the whole group benefits from reduced gas prices, time-saving and a reduction in emissions.
On a larger scale, the more people that share a car the fewer cars there are on the road, which lowers your commute time. Most importantly though, it helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which are to blame for atmospheric warming.
According to the United States EPA, from 1990 to 2015 there was a shocking 37% increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Earth can’t tolerate these increasing levels, and helping to minimize the number of cars on the road is an effective place to start.
Make sustainability fun
If carpooling isn’t an option for you and your friends, find activities that are educational and fun. Suggesting something like going to the local farmers’ market on the weekend to buy fresh produce is a good way to try something new and support your local farmers.
If you go, make sure to bring reusable bags instead of plastic! Many environmentally-savvy people are shifting to using hemp products, like paper and fabric, because it has a faster growth time, thus it is more sustainable. Hemp bags and clothing are rising in popularity, both for their style and durability and are a sustainable way for you and your friends to stand out while being environmentally conscious.
Finding ways to reduce plastic use can also be a challenging group project, take the Plastic Free July challenge as an example. More minds are going to yield more ideas! For example, replacing plastic cups with glass jars that are reused from other products (like salsa jars) can be a fun way to see who can be the most creative.
Change takes time
Finally, assuring your friends that all of their lifestyle changes don’t have to happen immediately is essential. It can take months to phase out old habits and products and replace them with new and better ones, but daily improvements are what lead to big changes.
It’s important to remember that you are the best example to your friends of sustainability and the best way to help change their habits. A good role model never hurts; and who knows, maybe your friends will end up selling their belongings and moving into a tiny house… all because you decided to tell them about sustainability.