Happy New Year everyone! Let’s hope 2021 brings us joy and good health. I’m thrilled to host this guest post from Michelle at Boomer Eco Crusader on green living. It’s always a good time to talk about how we can live a more sustainable life. I admit that I don’t do as much as I should, but I do love nature and I want to do my part to preserve it. This post from Michelle isn’t pushy. It’s not trying to make you feel guilty. But it did inspire me to try and be more green this year. Please take a few minutes to read this post for simple yet useful dos and don’ts on spreading the message of going green. Once you’re done reading, don’t forget pay a visit to Boomer Eco Crusader for handy tips on saving time, money and the environment. With that, let me make way for Michelle’s brilliant post.
Positive ways to encourage others to go green (Guest post)
At the beginning of 2019, I set a goal to step up my waste reduction efforts and adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. What started out as a simple desire to reduce single-use plastic quickly grew into a passion for green and sustainable living. I was excited and couldn’t wait to get others on board, but I knew I had to approach it the right way if I wanted people to embrace the message.
My philosophy with green living, and most other things in life, is progress not perfection. Zero-waste chef Anne-Marie Bonneau said it best “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Since starting my waste reduction journey, I’ve made a lot of changes. I firmly believe that every small change makes a difference and I am happy to be one of the millions of people doing zero-waste imperfectly.
How the zero-waste movement turns people off
I’ll be honest, though. I have a problem with the zero-waste movement. Knowingly or unknowingly, some zero-waste enthusiasts communicate an unrealistic and ideological standard of perfection. I’ve seen countless posts of mason jars supposedly containing a whole year’s worth of trash. That kind of result is beyond the reach of the average person. The well-intentioned message can do more harm than good if people get discouraged and give up their efforts to reduce waste.
When I first decided to make reducing waste a priority, I joined several zero-waste Facebook groups with a goal of learning and exchanging ideas with like-minded people. While I did get some tips, I quickly learned I had little in common with many of these people.
I recall a particular exchange that turned me off so much I left one of the Facebook groups I had joined.
It all started when one of the group members posted a picture of a bag of frozen avocados. The poster commented about people being so lazy they can’t be bothered to cut up avocados. I innocently replied that avocados don’t grow natively in many areas. For those of us who live in colder climates, the nutritional value of frozen fruits and vegetables is superior to the “fresh” fruits and vegetables we buy in the winter. I explained that most of the fresh produce in Canadian supermarkets in the winter has travelled thousands of miles from the field to the supermarket.
Well, did I get attacked! From reading the comments, anyone would think I had confessed to being a serial killer. I was told living in a cold climate was no excuse and I should grow or buy enough fruits and vegetables in the summer and freeze them to eat all winter. Now, that’s not a bad idea in theory, but who has a big enough freezer for that? Not me, that’s for sure.
After a few more back and forth comments, I found the Leave Group button and got the heck out of there!
Better ways to get people on board
I’m pretty stubborn. That experience didn’t discourage me from my waste reduction efforts, but it could have. Instead, it made me reflect on better ways to get people onside with green living.
Ultimately, each of us can only control our own choices and our own behaviour. If we really want to get people to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, making them feel bad is not the answer.
Even at home, I sometimes get eye rolls from my family when I make some changes. That’s okay. I believe in what I’m doing and will continue.
Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when sharing your passion for green living with others.
- Focus on your own efforts and lead by example. You’ll be surprised how many conversations start from someone seeing something you are doing.
- Take the opportunity to educate, when people ask. Explain your motivations and how eco-friendly living has helped you save money and be healthier, in addition to helping the planet.
- Celebrate small victories. My husband isn’t always on board with my efforts, but the last two Christmases he wrapped my gifts in newspaper. Result!
- Look for ways to introduce small, simple changes. Last year, a co-worker and I were organizing a team lunch at work. Instead of ordering bottled water, we asked everyone to bring their own water bottle. No one complained and we saved a dozen or more plastic bottles.
- Give eco-friendly gifts like reusable cups and shopping bags, metal straws or products from local businesses. It might just inspire someone to act. In fact, it was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law that started me on my waste reduction journey.
- Preach. Nagging people is rarely the way to get them onside with anything. In fact, it’s more likely to have the opposite effect.
- Judge. Don’t assume you know why people do or don’t do anything.
- Expect perfection. The last thing you want to be is one of “those people” that made me run screaming from the Facebook group.
Find a supportive community
Since that early exchange, I have joined a couple of other local zero-waste Facebook groups. The discussions are much more helpful and friendly. These are the like-minded people I was looking for. That’s what the zero-waste movement should be!
How do you get people on board with your waste-reduction efforts? Tell me below.
Thanks Michelle for joining Jan On The Blog for this guest post to spread an important message. I’m going to try and keep green living at front of mind this year. Readers, don’t forget to pay Boomer Eco Crusader a visit for more tips on saving time, money and the environment.
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