How to Make Your Parents More Sustainable
Since you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably are aware that the future of the planet depends on the actions we take right now. Luckily, millions of young people are stepping up to the plate to protect the future of the planet, many of whom have been inspired by Greta Thunberg with her school strike campaign, Fridays for the Future. It’s inspiring to see that young people everywhere are significantly more environmentally conscious than ever before and are challenging the actions that previous generations have taken and the decisions that current leaders are making.
As a Gen Z myself, I’ve heard many fellow young environmentalists express their frustration at the lack of action taken by older generations.
Of course, that’s not to say that all Baby Boomers are climate deniers or that all Millennials and Gen Z and climate conscious. Regardless, many of us have struggled to convince our friends and/or family members to make lifestyle changes that seemed very logical given the circumstances and gravity of the climate crisis, but to them seem unthinkable.
So to help you out, we gathered some opinions from fellow Gen Z and Millennials about their experiences and the tactics they use to convince others to be more sustainable.
Here are some ways you can advise your friends and family on how to live greener lives:
1) Start Small
People are often hesitant to change their habits, especially when it means that they have to make certain sacrifices. Instead of trying to convince them to change their entire lifestyle and go completely zero waste, you can encourage them to take small, simple steps that don’t require a big change. By doing so, you won’t overwhelm them with ideals that seem unattainable. It’s important to recognize that every small step counts- many small positive actions by many can add up!
For example, Theo, a 12 year old climate activist and advisor of Kora, suggests that “teenagers can influence their families to help stop climate change by getting them to change their usual mode of transport if it is driving be it with walking as a substitute or cycling”.
There are plenty of super simple ways to be more sustainable without spending extra money. For some ideas, check out our previous blog post for 11 Simple Sustainable Actions You Can Take Today.
2) Educate Them
Although it may seem obvious to you, they simply might just not be fully aware of the gravity of climate change or what exactly we can do as individuals to make a difference. Many people feel like climate change is a problem that they have no control over or that can only be fixed by large scale policy changes, and therefore resort to denial or inaction to cope with it. By explaining to them how much of an impact their individual actions can make, they will be more likely to be able to grasp how they play a part in the fight against climate change as well.
It’s particularly compelling when you can explain to them the actual measurement of carbon saved from their actions. Kora is built on the concept of empowering individuals to take sustainable actions by helping you understand the carbon footprint of your actions- for example, did you know that each km you walk instead of drive, you save 200g of CO2e?
3) Lead by Example
Sometimes the best way to influence the ones closest to you is to just lead by example. When I became vegetarian, my friends and family made fun of me because they didn’t understand why I would decide to eliminate meat from my diet as it is a large part of their diets. They would even purposely buy my favourite meat dishes to try to tempt me to eat meat- the complete opposite of supportive. But instead of criticizing them, I simply explained the reasons behind my choice and respected their decisions. As I continued to eat a plant-based diet, I noticed that my actions started to rub off on them as well. Despite the fact that they were initially defensive and refused to consider this alternative diet, I started to notice they had also come around to realizing that it was important and possible to reduce their meat consumption as well.
4) Relate environmentally conscious decisions to other benefits (saving money, improving health)
Luckily, many sustainable decisions are also tied to positive health and cost savings. For example, buying in bulk and avoiding plastic packaging results in cost savings in the long run. Eating more whole and plant-based foods can be more healthy. Switching to renewable energy will eventually be cheaper than other sources such as coal – especially in Europe. Walking or cycling instead of driving saves money and is beneficial to your fitness.
While some people may not understand why they should do certain actions for the benefit of the planet, they can definitely understand why they should do it to save money or for their own health. Relating sustainable actions to other benefits can help them establish a valid reason for their actions.
5) Make it easy for them
Usually, people are just too lazy to make changes to their lifestyles themselves. You can help them out by finding ways to encourage them to make sustainable decisions more easily. For example, buy them reusable bags and a reusable water bottle you know they’ll love.
6) It’s okay to make mistakes
One of the huge barriers to a sustainable lifestyle is the fear of messing up. Oftentimes, people are too overwhelmed with all of the elements of their lives that they have to change that they know they’ll mess up and therefore decide not to do anything. As Anne Marie Bonneau, also known as the Zero Waste Chef, put it: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” This powerful quote applies to all spheres of sustainable living and should be at the basis of all efforts to adopt a greener lifestyle.
Instead of criticizing them when they don’t follow the lifestyle you want them to live, celebrate every small step!
Overall, it’s important to stay positive about the situation and celebrate every win. Know that you are not alone, and there are millions of others that are also working hard to change their lifestyles and encourage others to do the same. We hope that you find these tips useful and can put them into action! We would also love to hear your stories- leave a comment or send us a message to share your experiences.
At Kora, we are creating a community of people that are taking steps to live more sustainably. Our hope is that by rewarding people for their sustainable actions, we can encourage even more people to make changes, ultimately paving the way for a new sustainable economy in which it pays to be sustainable! You can join the Kora community by downloading the app.