Maybe you’re loving your new vegan lifestyle. Maybe you’re feeling great because you started running. Maybe you buy carbon offsets for your travel and you’re freaked out about global warming. You feel like you’ve just discovered a great go green solution and you can’t wait to preach to those around you!
Whether it’s recycling, eating more plant-based meals or simply picking up your trash, we all want to help our friends and family be more “green.”
So, what do we do? We post something on Facebook–share a video, an impassioned argument or start a debate about the green topic. We wave our “green flag” and tell others we’re right and they should follow our rallying cry (or else).
How many Facebook arguments and debates have we all seen that go absolutely nowhere? Has anyone ever changed their views based on Facebook shaming and condemnation? Does anyone change what they order in a restaurant because their friend tsks at their plate?
Passing judgement on others and trying to shame them into changing, is no way to get them to make changes. In fact, it often does just the opposite. It’s hard when we feel excited about healthy topics. We might have seen a huge difference in our own lives when we adopted healthy habits and we want to get friends and family on board.
So how do you do it? How can you help others “go green?” How can you get friends and family excited about making a difference for the world, for animals and for their health?
Lead By Example
The biggest way you can make a difference is to simply lead by example. If you enjoy cool fun activities, have tons of energy, and give out good vibes, people will be drawn to you. If you’re food looks delicious, others will ask you what’s in it. If you drop 15 pounds, people will notice, and believe me–they will want to know your secret!
No matter what cause you’re trying to promote, leading by example is huge. Know that when you declare yourself to be “Ms. Granola,” or “Mr. Workout,” others are going to look to you as an example whether you realize it or not. In fact, realizing you’re a role model for your lifestyle can help keep you more diligent and on your toes as well.
When I started following a plant-based diet and running, I dropped 30 pounds and my cholesterol and blood pressure went way down. I looked better, felt better and it definitely showed. People remarked on it frequently and asked me for advice, which I was so happy to share!
Make it Fun
Here’s the deal–if you seem like exercise, recycling or eating healthy makes you unhappy, well, no one else is going to feel inspired to follow your lead–and why should they? After all, life is too short to do something that makes you miserable. If you don’t like what you’re doing then maybe it’s not for you (even if it’s great for other people).
Find exercise you love. Get friends together for awesome vegetarian dinners where the food is delicious and everyone has a blast. Have clothing-swap parties. Organize an eco-walk or cleanup day for your neighborhood. Host a fitness challenge for your office or friends.
If you want to help others get in on adopting a great lifestyle, you need to create an incentive. It needs to be enjoyable, social and exciting. Share green tips on your blog. Find ways to make recycled crafts. Talk gardening tips with your buddies. Have a good time!
Share the Love
When you see others doing something awesome, give them some encouragement and love! When a friend completes their first marathon, or is excited to share a great recipe with you thank them and let them know it’s awesome.
When I first started running, my co-worker (who was an Iron (wo)Man, ultramarathoner) slipped little notes into my mailbox taped to Luna bars. They would say things like, “Good luck on your run! You’re doing awesome!” I felt so supported and encouraged.
Here’s the deal–she could easily have scoffed at my 15 minute run, or couch to 5K progress. After all, it wasn’t nearly as impressive as her workouts, right? But she recognized it wasn’t about competition. It was about encouraging someone and making them feel good. So give your friends a shout out when they do something great!
Don’t Be Judgemental
Okay, so this one’s tough, especially when there are so many scary-bad things happening with environmental policy right now, and so many people who seem like they just don’t care. When your friend posts a photo of their recent pig roast, or shares something you don’t agree with, it can be really hard to stay silent or not cringe.
But passing judgement and lecturing others (unsolicited) never changed anyone’s mind. So many people get turned off to plant-based or vegan lifestyles because it becomes kind of cultish. It’s not always easy and others are quick to point out if you make a misstep or aren’t perfect.
None of us are perfect. It’s nearly impossible to be zero-waste, totally green, super fit and 100% vegan. Like, it’s just not realistic.
Instead, realize–everyone is trying to be happy. They’re trying to do what they can. Most people want to live a life they enjoy. They want to be good people. So, encourage the good and don’t rush to point out the not-so-good. If you’re asked for advice, be happy to share, but be open and kind not judgey.
Implement DIY Solutions
If you want to implement change, it may need to start with YOU. If you want your office to recycle more, want your family to save money, eat healthier and generate less waste, then you may need to start with the guy or gal in the mirror.
You know the old saying, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself? Well, pull on your boots and saddle up!
Pick up trash when you’re out on your walk or run. Start a recycling program in your office. Share green events and opportunities with friends and family. Take charge and remember change begins with YOU!
In the end, we really only have control over our own behavior and lifestyle. We can encourage others to go green. We can lead by example and choose fit activities and fun with our friends. We can live a lifestyle we’re proud of and that’s really the best we can do!
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