We’ve heard the story countless times. Someone learns about what is happening to the environment and how they can help and they get so excited about it, only to find that their family and friends aren’t quite as on board. In some cases, we’ve heard of a person’s family actively resisting environmentally friendly changes. How can you be eco friendly when your family and friends won’t be?
Navigating issues with family can definitely be difficult, and we recommend that you take our advice with an open mind and a grain of salt. Think through whether or not these tips would work for your family. This is what we’d suggest.
Don’t get preachy
A lot of why people resist environmentally friendly changes is simply the fact that it hurts our pride to find out we’ve been doing things the “wrong way.” And sometimes our habits are so ingrained that to change them feels like we’re changing who we are as people. It’s okay to talk about the reasons why you want to get a curbside recycling bin or start a compost heap, but once you’ve had the initial discussion, if you’ve experienced resistance or anger, lay off.
Sometimes people need to take a little while to let your ideas fully sink in and get on board. If you push the issue relentlessly, it may cause them to dig in deeper and continue resisting the changes you propose.
We believe big change starts small and that picking the lowest hanging fruit first is the best way to get started on an environmental-ish journey. Start with the easy changes first – the ones where your family won’t really notice the difference. Plant a small garden. Switch out the light bulbs to eco friendly ones and remind your family that it’ll make your utility bill go down! Or decrease the temperature on your home’s water heater. It’s not likely that anyone will notice a huge difference.
Starting with these smaller actions shows the people in your home that you don’t have to live in a tiny home or a yurt and eat nuts and berries all day in order to be eco friendly.
Lead through action
When you want people to make a change or do things in different ways, you’ll find that leading through action works a lot better than issuing commands or directives. For example, if you want the family to save water, start taking shorter showers. If your usual shower is 20 minutes and you instead take an 8 minute shower, mention how nice it is to have that extra time in the morning. If you want the family to start recycling, set up a bin that can be taken to the local recycling center. You’ll probably find that your family starts recycling without you having to ask.
Frame your argument better
Whether you’re a tree hugging earth warrior or a fiscally mindful pragmatist, environmentalism has something for everyone. People who love the Earth can be compelled to take shorter showers to protect waterways. People who love paying lower utility bills may be compelled to take a shorter shower to save money. In either case, everyone wins, especially the Earth. If you know your family doesn’t really care much about the environment, speak to ways that eco friendly actions can benefit them.
Flaunt the results
The biggest fear most people have about being eco friendly is the idea that they’re going to have to give up the little pleasures in life. Many eco friendly changes don’t require you to give up anything, but to change how you use everyday things and interact with the world around you. The results can be seen in many ways. Eating organic, local food makes you feel better. Being smarter with electricity and water saves you money. Using green cleaners leaves your home smelling better and seeming fresher.
It’s definitely not an easy thing to do trying to convince family to be more eco friendly when they aren’t interested. Hopefully our tips help you navigate this issue.