First of all CONGRATULATIONS!!! You have started your eco friendly path and that is amazing. Even if reading this article is your first attempt, I have to say, this is a conscious move towards helping our planet earth, and that is amazing. You have become an “eco warrior”! You have opened the possibilities to embrace change, make better choices in your life and that is something to be proud of.
I would like to share some of the difficulties I have encountered on my journey. I have had lots and lots of family members and friends that were not in the same place as me. I have never wanted to step on their ideas, or be perceived as “better” or wanted to drag them down or simply leave them behind. I have always wanted them to make eco friendly choices and be motivated to do so on their own. I have always wanted them to join in, or at least support or understand what I’m doing. The question is how? You might have encountered that yourself or you might experience that in the future, so I would like to share some tips that have helped me:
1. It is a PERSONAL Journey.
Everyone is on this same journey called life, although we are all at different stages on our eco friendly path. Not everyone around you is ready for what you are doing. We need to understand and respect these differences. Most of the time people need to find their own way, and come to their own conclusions. So stay positive and wait, they will come to their own conclusion. You may not even know what you said had an impact. Clarrissa, a fellow Earth Mama told me (long after we had the conversation) that something I said stuck with her and gave her the push she needed to get serious about her Eco Journey. One day during lunch I asked her if she knew where all her toothbrushes she had ever used in her life were? I just asked one question and that was when she started wondering and took the first step toward awareness and eco friendly lifestyle.
Rather than trying to convince them or drag them to become an “eco warrior” like you, just concentrate on YOUR journey. Look for new ways to improve your OWN practices and choices and stay positive about it at all times. Remember your thoughts, words and actions are the only things you have a 100% control over. Whether others are supportive or skeptical; open or close minded; helpful or downright difficult; remember that this is a personal journey. Even if we need their help to save this planet you can still do your part and continue your eco journey without them.
2. Lead By Example. Like I tell my students “Show, don’t tell”
As I said before, everyone is on their own journey. So rather than preaching, I find it much better to do my part, hoping people will notice. We all know that one colleague, friend or family member that is always talking about losing weight or eating less sugar and if they see you doing something that does not align with their values they immediately will tell you “you are wrong” or “you’re making a big mistake”. DON’T BE THAT PERSON!! We need to realize that our daily actions have bigger impact than we realize. After a “weird” eco friendly move I have had people start asking questions about why am I doing it? I still remember once I went to the grocery store and had to buy apples, bananas and watermelon for a fruit salad I was making for a potluck. A friend came with me and notice that I refused plastic bags. I carried the apples and bananas in my purse and the watermelon on my hands. She asked me, why? And my answer was, because I can and if I do, it means less plastic to the world. So I will do it. She then started asking more questions, concerning impacts of my actions. I answered her questions without saying “that is right” or “that is wrong”. I shared my own journey and experience with her and planted the seed for her to take action. For some, it will take them a month to start, some will start right away, and in the end, it does not matter. It is ok to start whenever you feel comfortable starting, again IT IS A PERSONAL JOURNEY.
3. Shift Your Mindset to that of Convenience to Inconvenience.
There will be MANY times that your eco friendly lifestyle will be inconvenient for you or for others. That is OK. We were told that every single part of our life should be convenient and I propose a mind shift around this concept. Do you know the age of the Earth? Scientist have calculated that the Earth is 4.54 billion years old. Meanwhile, humans have been on Earth for just 200 million years! In 200 million years we have done our part to harm The Earth in so many ways. It is time for a little inconvenience for us but convenience for the Earth. It is important to say it out loud, I usually say “This is more work for me but with my actions I am planning for Andre, my son, to have an Earth to explore in 20 years from now. I am willing to sacrifice my convenience for him.” Say it out loud, people will hear.
4. Celebrate Your Successes!!
If you’re trying to persuade others to embrace your journey and start their own, you need to keep things positive. Share your success stories, the small steps you are taking towards a more eco friendly lifestyle. Let others get involved with the change if they want to and keep them away from the things you know they won’t enjoy yet. Remember that relationships are more important than beliefs. Respecting everyone’s journey and process is crucial in order to motivate others to take a new steps on this journey. People over things, relationships over ideology.
5. Find Your Support Group.
Everyone needs a support group. We all need a place to share our struggles, celebrate our successes and find inspiration to do more. If you don’t want to burden friends and family, look outside your circle. Find groups through social media or in your community to join. If you invest some time you will find people that are going through exactly the same thing as you. Just keep looking! Earth Mamas International instagram and facebook account are a great place to start!
6. Make Smart Investments.
Choose where to invest your time. Some people won’t be convinced. Ever. No matter what you do. So, be wise enough to let it go. There are plenty of people that you can invest your time in. Avoid arguments that will just leave you frustrated, angry or sad. Remind yourself of the reason why you are with that person. Maybe they just your colleague or a close friend either way the reason why you are interacting with this person has nothing to do with your zero waste lifestyle. Do not let a straw or a plastic water bottle get between you and cause friction. So again, remember people over things, relationships over ideology.
These 6 tips have helped me deal with others and enjoy this journey a little more. I hope they are helpful to you too. I would like people to enjoy my company without feeling judge or observed, the same way I would love to enjoy other’s company observing their Eco Journey with acceptance and respect. Is there anything that you have done that has helped you through this lifestyle? Share it with us. What are your tips and suggestions you have of how to enjoy the journey of others?