If you’d tried to talk to me about sustainability two years ago, my eyes would’ve glazed over. I get so much joy from fashion and styling clothes, and it took me a long time to replace my love for receiving multiple packages a week with searching in charity shops instead. Moving into a house with my university friends this year, however, I’ve realised how far I’ve come, and noticed ways in which some of my peers could be making more sustainable choices.
Once you become informed about sustainable living and how important it is to our environment, it’s easy to feel like everyone around you who isn’t as concerned as you is living in the dark. You might have a desire to shake those people and wake them up to why everyone should be making sustainable choices as much as they can. While it’s extremely important to have these conversations, even if they might be uncomfortable, it’s also good to keep in mind that you once might have not known as much as you do now.
It’s important to enter the conversation with understanding. Don’t jump to criticise; remember that before you were ‘enlightened’, you were probably in their exact position. Moreover, it’s crucial that before you start speaking about sustainability with your loved ones, you take time to consider that other people’s socio-economic backgrounds and their budget might be different from yours. Not everyone has the time or money to spend on considering how to make every part of their lives sustainable, so focus on helping them change what they can.
If you’re talking to a family member who might be significantly older than you, that’s another sign for you to approach with awareness. Your uncle, or your grandma, might never have even heard of sustainability. So stay away from complicated language and explain in simple terms what they can do to make sustainable choices.
A great way to spark interest in sustainability among your family and friends is to make searching for items a fun activity. You could invite your family member along to the charity shops to help them find something to wear for an event, or discover a local car boot sale to bring your friends along to. This helps to reduce the pressure — you don’t want to overwhelm someone with too many facts or figures. Instead, plan an exciting day out and let them see for themselves how great finding a bargain and helping the environment at the same time can be!
If you’re feeling generous and you have the means, you could purchase some small gifts for your friend or family member which might encourage them to stop using items with a large amount of packaging or waste. You could get them a bamboo toothbrush, to reduce the amount of disposable plastic going into landfill, or a pack of reusable cotton pads to help them stop buying pack after pack of disposable makeup pads. Whatever you buy, it doesn’t need to break the bank, and can really help your friend or family member see how easy it is to swap out harmful and wasteful items for more sustainable ones.
Being sustainable also doesn’t necessarily mean buying more things. Advise your friends how to layer and style the clothes they already have, alter items they find in their wardrobe, or even go through a relative’s old stuff for hidden treasures. If you know how to sew or repurpose old clothes to fit modern trends, this is a great time to share your skills.
Your final option is to simply sit down with your friend or family member and have a chat. This is the easiest and perhaps even your most productive choice. The best thing you can do is create an open and understanding atmosphere where your loved one feels safe to ask any questions they can have. Too much intensity could put someone off or make them defensive. Keep in mind that you can’t get through to someone who isn’t open to change. So try your best and don’t feel defeated if you don’t convert them immediately!