How to Inspire Those Around You to Live a More Sustainable Life
The other day, a friend of mine asked me for advice on how to help those around her live more sustainably. And phew, it was a super hard question to answer! I’ve had a lot of success helping my children embrace a more eco-conscious lifestyle (see: How to Embrace Eco-Friendly Living with Kids). But in my experience, getting peers, parents, or basically any adult to change his or her ways and live more sustainably is no easy task.
Her question got me thinking: why is that? What is it about sustainability that makes it more difficult for adults to adopt? To answer this, I went back to the basics of what sustainable living really is, at its heart. The dictionary defines sustainability as:
“The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.”
As a mother, I’ve seen firsthand how my children have an innate connection to the environment. They genuinely want to help all living things. They’re also naturally very open to new ideas and perspectives. On the other hand, many adults have grown accustomed to a certain way of life. They’ve experienced the convenience of living a less environmentally conscious lifestyle. Breaking those habits and changing those ways of thinking can be a huge hurdle.
But all hope is not lost! It is possible to inspire those around you to better their lives and be more conscious of the impact their choices have.
Here are a few ways you can inspire those around you to embrace a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
1. Lead By Example
When you start your sustainable journey, it can be nerve wracking to share the changes you’ve made with those around you. You might be afraid that they might not accept your new lifestyle. It’s true that you might encounter judgment from people who aren’t ready to make changes in their own lives. I know I have. Some of my family members have even labeled the changes I have decided to make (such as eating organic, avoiding bulk produce in plastic, and purchasing all-natural products) as elitist.
Just do you! Make your sustainable changes and live your life in a conscious, authentic way. Your friends and family members will definitely notice your dedication. They’ll probably even ask you about it! Which leads me to the next point...
2. Talk About It
Inspire those around you by talking about the small changes you’re making in your everyday life. Explain why sustainability is important to you. Educate your friends and family about how to better take care of the planet. Mention products you love and how they’ve improved your life. The more you talk about why you’re doing what you’re doing, the more your passion comes across. And passion is so contagious!
Here are a few facts that I’m always eager to share with others:
- All plastic ever created is still on the Earth today! At this rate, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!
- Fast Fashion is the second-largest polluting industry, after Big Oil. It creates unnecessary waste and pollutes our water system with harmful chemicals and microplastics.
- Cow farts stink! In fact, raising livestock for meat contributes to 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. (Read more about that here!)
3. Be Honest
Share your REAL feelings about your sustainability journey. Of course, it’s great to let your friends and family know when you fall in love with a new eco-friendly product. But in a way, it can be even more impactful when you share about an experience trying something that totally didn’t work for you!
Living sustainably is not all sunshine and rainbows. If you try to act like it is, you’ll just turn people away from it — especially when they try adopting a sustainable lifestyle and it’s way harder than they expected. Being honest with your sustainability journey allows others to offer helpful suggestions or solutions. By creating an open, judgment-free zone, you are building an earth-loving community that’s committed to solving the world’s important problems, And isn't that the best thing we can do?
4. Don’t Expect Perfection
Be patient with others as you begin to share your experiences with them. Don’t expect them to totally change their mindset and their lifestyle overnight, even when you start to see some positive changes. Be honest with yourself and others and try to see things from a different perspective. None of us are perfect, and that’s okay! Let that shared humanity help you relate to one another and build community.
5. Share the Journey
Now that your friends and family are more open to the sustainability movement, share the journey! I personally love trying new eco-friendly products with others so we can share our experiences in real-time. And embracing a more environmentally conscious lifestyle together can give you the chance to make plenty of new memories!
The next time you meet up with a friend, try doing one of these sustainable activities:
- Skip the coffee shop and plan a picnic at a park. Even better, bring to-go coffee in sustainable mugs! (My favorites are from Greens Steel.)
- Get your sweat on and go for a hike. Make sure to bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. (Need to save room in your bag, use the clever collapsable Hydaway.
- Visit a farmer’s market to support local businesses and pick up some organic, sustainably grown produce.
- Cook a meal together and give “Meatless Mondays” a try! Here are a few of my favorite recipes: Vegan Chickpea Torta, Quick Chana Masala, Thai Pineapple Fried Rice.
Sharing your experiences and knowledge is the best way to create a positive, more sustainable environment. As you lead by example and look for opportunities to share your eco-friendly lifestyle with others, you’ll find that others will start to feel the same passion you have.
How do you share your sustainable lifestyle with others? Do you have any suggestions of other ways that have worked for you? Let me know in the comments!