You yourself might be committed to changing your lifestyle for the better. But you may struggle to get your partner and/or kids on board. So, how can you make sure you are not going it alone? How can you encourage your family towards sustainable living?
Sustainable living can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle, especially if you are meeting with resistance from the important people in your life. Green living is not always easy. We are at a time of unprecedented change – and change can be difficult. It is important to recognise that, and to understand that different people approach change, and approach problems, in different ways.
Here are some tips to help you encourage your family down the right path:
Lead By Example
Often, you need to 'show' rather than 'telling'. Often, encouraging your family down the right path is simply a case of normalising green living by actually doing it yourself. Make sure you are following the five 'R's of sustainability and refusing, reducing, reusing, repairing and recycling.
Producing a delicious, healthy meal of fresh, local, organic produce, or taking on a cool upcycling project can be far more effective than lecturing your family on the ills of mass agriculture or supply chain and waste issues. Once something becomes 'normal' they are far more likely to do these things themselves.
Take Things a Step at a Time
Too much change all at once can be overwhelming for some people. Recognise that as you transition to a better way of life, your loved ones may need time to adjust. Slip in small, sustainable changes one at a time into your home, way of life and daily routine, rather than changing everything and expecting your family to tow the line.
Start with small things, like making healthy packed lunches in reusable containers, or carrying water bottles with you wherever you go.
No matter what changes you want to make, and no matter what challenges you face as a family, it is important to keep talking. Don't just assume that your family understands the issues and is on the same page as you.
All progress begins with a conversation. Make sure you calmly discuss your motivations and desires, and make sure everyone else, young and old, gets the chance to do the same.
Change the Conversation – Avoid 'Green Fatigue'
Talking endlessly to your family about sustainability and the problems in today's world can unfortunately get old rather quickly. When your loved ones feel overwhelmed by the issues, and are constantly surrounded by such ideas, they may simply 'switch off'. Green fatigue is an issue that many people face. It can lead to a feeling of helplessness and dissociative guilt, that can lead to inaction. It can make people want to bury their heads in the sand and go on with the status quo. Know not only when to talk about sustainability – but when to stop talking about it too.
Have a coffee break and show your loved ones that it's not hard to bring your own reusables. It can feel liberating!
Know Your Audience
It is important to remember and characters and preferences of those you are talking to and interacting with. There is no one size fits all approach to transitioning to a sustainable lifestyle.
Some people will be more resistant to certain ideas than others. Some do better with change than others. Some feel more self-conscious when doing something that is out of the norm. People all learn differently and absorb information differently too. Take all these things into account.
Keep Things Positive
Sometimes, things can seem all doom and gloom. Many of us feel frustrated, angry and upset over the crises we face. But in spite of the massive problems in today's world, it is very important to also keep sight of the good in this world. Share amazing stories of sustainability success and hope from around the world with your family, to keep them fighting for the things we can all love and believe in.
Share Fun Experiences
There are plenty of fun experiences to share with your partner or your family as you transition to a more sustainable way of life. Keep laughing, keep playing, and keep connections alive.
Take hikes, bike rides and enjoy other sustainable adventures. Craft and make together. Grow, cook and eat together. The more fun you can make things, the more likely it is that everyone will be on board.