What To Do When Your Spouse (Best Friend, Boyfriend, Parents, Neighbor, etc.) Isn't Sustainable and How To Influence Others

Sustainability: Spread the word, man...

But how do you spread the word when your own loved ones are resistant to change?

Here are 10 ideas to influence those around you...

1. Frame your message right -using messages framed to a specific audience (i.e. think about the values that are important to them).

2. Use nudges - help our short-term brains make better long-term decisions (i.e. convenient ways to be more environmentally-friendly like a sensor that turns off all your power when you leave the house)

3. Create group effects (people respond better when they feel it is a group decision, or when they get information as a group rather than an individual)

4. Talk up exciting new technologies or products that are sustainable (i.e. the 2011 Chevy Volt).

5. Support and promote policies that promote change (such as tax discounts for those that own hybrids). Actively support incentives, fines and taxes that support sustainability.

6. Find some like-minded friends that you and your non-green friend or family member can socialize with so you are not alone. Sometimes if more than one person shares the same ideas they are given more weight.

7. Look for opportunities to share pieces of the issue based on disturbances that come up in their life (i.e. high gas prices, a polluted air, land or lake you visit). Any concern they have that might be related to these issues might be a good opportunity.

8. Share your personal commitment to sustainability. You can lead by example. You can show how easy it is and how it benefits your life. Focus on common ground (i.e. health, money savings, community and family benefits).

4. Once others are open to listening you can start building more and more awareness of the issue. You can share appropriate videos, blogs, books or flyers. You can make them aware of how their actions affect sustainability directly.

5. You can continue to provide information as well as answer questions. Don't stop pointing out the benefits.

6. Provide emotional inspiration. This can be done by linking the sustainability movement to a moral or spiritual perspective. Share inspirational stories. Share your concerns about the global consequences of not living in a sustainable way.

7. Participate in a rigorous communication program in your community (information on TV, flyers in the mail, billboards, promotions, blogs, news reports, door-to-door) that encourage recycling and discourage unsustainable consumption and explain why it is discouraged.

8. Get your local church involved. Join an ecological association. Volunteer to provide sustainability programs/presentations in your kid's school. The more people in your community who are on-board the faster it will spread.

9. Make it a cool thing to be seen doing - spin it in a positive, fun light instead of a boring, difficult light. Be creative with fashions from the thrift store, or share how you refurbished your old furniture or repaired your kid's jeans or toys.

10. Make it a family effort to recycle, compost, garden, bike ride, and enjoy nature.

In terms of communication- it is much more influential to communicate awareness to your non-green friend or family member concerning the positive environmental feelings and behaviors of friends, family members, neighbors, and communities (i.e. all your neighbors recycle) rather than communicating only about environmental awareness (how it will affect the earth) or how it will affect future generations. This is because general environmental attitudes are more persuasive than specific knowledge.

People don't want to feel like they are the odd one out. If everyone is doing it than they want to do it to.

We want to be the ones in the middle of the party, not the lone strangers that don't quite fit in.

This is an urgent message- let's get the word out.

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