How to Talk to Your Friends About Sustainability (and Why You Need to)

Undoubtedly, the environment is changing… and it’s not in a positive direction. Heat waves, cold fronts, and CO2 levels are increasing all over the world, and the Earth’s heat-repelling ice is melting. It’s now imperative that every inhabitant of this planet makes an effort to save it.

Daily efforts to reduce your individual footprint, no matter how small, are what will make the biggest difference in the long run. Part of these efforts include telling your friends about the little ways they can help the planet too.

Talk about it

Your friends want your thoughts 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. 

Putting yourself in the shoes of the person you are approaching and remembering how it felt when you learned some of your long-term habits were bad for the planet is important. Depending on the person, it could feel like an attack if you tell them they use too much water to brush their teeth, so thoughtfulness is key. Most importantly though, make sure you’re actually having a conversation with them, not giving directions and critiques.  

Emphasizing how you also have learned a lot about your habits and your experiences changing them is a great way to make the other person feel less intimidated and like an equal. 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.

Baby Steps

It’s a lot easier to make changes and stick to them when you have a group to keep you accountable. For example, teaming up with a few of your coworkers and carpooling 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 (since your travel time has now become workable if you’re not the one driving), in addition to reducing CO2 output. 

On a bigger scale, the more people that share a car, the fewer cars there are on the road, which reduces traffic. 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 planet cannot sustain these increasing levels, and helping to minimize the number of cars on the road is an effective place to start. 

Group Effort

If carpooling isn’t an option for you and friends, find activities that are both fun and teach you about sustainability. Suggesting something like going to the local farmers’ market on the weekend to buy produce is a good way to mix things up and do something good for the planet. 

Most people don’t think about how their food requires transportation, so reducing that distance as much as possible helps eliminate the environmental impact. 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 great 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.  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. 

It Takes Time

Finally, reminding your friends that all of their lifestyle changes don’t have to happen right away is essential. It can take months to phase out old habits and products and replace them with new and better ones, but baby steps are better than nothing.

One key thing to remember, though, is that being an example to your friends of sustainability is 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.

 

By Madison Adams

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