If I had a dollar for every desperately disappointed eco & zero waste crusader who ever asked me how to convince their friends of the importance of being sustainable, I'd be on a Caribbean Island. (Yes, I know, with the water lapping my knees.)
Most eco crusaders are firstly known by their friends as just that. Eco Crusader. And after that, it's pretty much downhill. There seems to be some secret statute of limitations on tolerating your over zealous, fresh faced, eager presence.When you visit the non eco-ers, they first apologise for their entire house, hiding every plastic container, processed food packet and chemical laden fruit bowl. That behaviour seems like a cry for help, right? You need to offer advice.But it's not a cry for help. And this fact dawns on you as their eyes start to roll back in their heads before you have even finished your first helpful sentence. By the end of that first sentence, they already seem positively catatonic and you can't work out if they are bird dogging to shut you up or they really have been talked into a sleeper state by your helpful eco commentary.
THE THING IS THAT ECO TO MANY PEOPLE EQUALS GUILT. YOU EXCITINGLY & ENDLESSLY TELLING PEOPLE WHY THEY NEED TO CHANGE RARELY WORKS (AS YOU ALREADY KNOW). THEY JUST WAIT FOR YOU TO GO AWAY AND GO BACK TO WHATEVER THEY WERE DOING BEFORE.
Just because the ice is melting, the sun is hotter and the sea is rising, doesn't mean everyone gets that a reusable bag, an organic strawberry or a chemical free nappy is obvious. It's not. Being eco to many people is about guilt. Guilt about failure: to do the 'right' thing, for helping kill polar bears, melting ice, orphaning orangutans, eating processed food, heating up the planet. There is so much to be guilty about.But what if it wasn't about guilt, but about buying shoes. What if you made like a really good shoe salesman?
Let's think of selling eco like selling shoes. Instead of thrusting those shoes at your friends and telling them how quickly (or slowly from chemical poisoning) they will die without them, how about talking a little about how your friend lives, where they might wear shoes, their fav colours and styles.Once you know these things, you will have an entry point. Ask them questions like, "If there was one thing you'd do to be a little more eco conscious, what would it be?" Most people will say that they would get a re-usable bag. Some might say that they would use bicarb to clean the toilet or a bench top. Next time you see them, bring a product sample! Bring the little change they talked about. A gift of a re-usable bag or some bicarb or a beautiful piece of hand made soap. PERSISTENCE, PRESENTS & PRESENCE EQUALS GENTLE PERSUASION AND ACTUALLY DOES PAY OFF IN TIME. IF YOU ARE PATIENT, IT WILL PLAY OUT IN THE END JUST THE WAY YOU WANT. THE REWARDS OF LITTLE ECO SATISFACTIONS PRETTY MUCH ALWAYS INVITES MORE.Christmas is or a birthday is a big chance to give something eco, easy and beautiful. But this year, when you give your gifts, don't lecture them (like I am lecturing you!), simply give your gift like everyone else and try and make the gift about them, not you.A reusable bag for starters is always going to work well at Xmas - as an actual gift or as gift wrapping. It is perfect to lug all those presents home and a beautiful bag is always going to stand out against all the cheap plastic bags others are taking their gifts home in.Suddenly you are a talking point! And I know you will be biting your tongue about all the wasted resources in the silly presents, but you've got a year to work on that one!Whether it's a reusable bag, or something as personal and simple as some home made bicarb scrub, go for something easy from which your friends get both joy and an instant result. Once that happens, they'll be back for another and with questions. I promise.So, to wrap this up, remember that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. (Although if you have ever set a fly trap you'd know this isn't true. You attract flies with vinegar and catch them with honey, but don't tell anyone.)