It’s often the case that we make a decision to change for good and automatically expect everyone else around us to immediately change accordingly and start supporting us. Such is never the case – in turn leading to frustration and difference of opinions. We fail to understand that it took us a while to educate ourselves, learn about the importance of the change and finally make up our mind to make the change happen. Which also means that, it will take for your friends and family to understand the necessity to change, educate themselves about the change and make up their mind to embrace the change.
But there’s another hiccup in the process. Just because you educated them and informed them they’re probably not going to change. I have noticed this common trend among my circle. They talk about sustainability, garbage, waste and the larger environmental crises in a heated discussion, then go back to buying packaged drinking water, asking for straw and eating street food totally unprepared for it. I’m sure you all know a lot of people who do the same.
So what is it that really motivates someone to change in life? (In the context of Zero Waste & Sustainable Living). The answer is simple – LEADING BY EXAMPLE
You would have heard this in famous quotes and every other leadership book. The phrase – “Lead by Example”. Not sure of how that works, but it surely works in the world of sustainable living. I HAVE PROOF, YES!
What does ‘Leading By Example’ mean though?
- Get Down To It : I can’t stress enough on this one. But literally this one move will make a huge difference. Even someone who barely even knows why plastic is a problem will start avoiding plastic because they see you do it all the time.
If you want your kitchen waste to be composted – DO IT YOURSELF, EVERY SINGLE DAY. If you want to make Bioenzyme with Citrus Waste – DO IT YOURSELF, EVERY SINGLE TIME. If you want to stop using plastic cleaning brushes at home – GO SHOPPING YOURSELF and get what you need.
Basically, speaking less and doing more. I have frankly seen tremendous results from this one. I stopped telling people about anything, I just get down to doing it myself. Eventually they join in. Try it. Have you heard of – PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH! Same thing.
- Don’t stop educating : Living by example also means you take interest to inspire others to adopt certain means. Initially you will come across a lot of criticism but don’t let that change the good you’re trying to do. Answer every other silly question, educate them with something very new and fascinating, challenge them to try, but keep that effort going. You will see they will start taking you seriously when they know you’re really into it!
- Make it fun : If it looks serious – most of them are going to stay away from it automatically. Only if it’s a fun activity, if it’s engaging and worth bragging about later on – people will give it a thought. So whatever you want to change in someone, bring out the fun & interesting aspect of it. DIY’s are so in – make every education a fun learning activity and involve everybody. Works all the time.
- Appreciate & Forgive : Not everyone can go to the extent of what you can do. But if they’re even making the tiniest effort in this direction – appreciate & encourage them. Don’t forget to forgive them when they don’t follow certain things. It takes years to become perfect in anything. Make them feel nice for every effort they make. Emphasise on the impact they’re actually making with every effort. It’s always nice to know you’re making a difference. 🙂
My closest circle isn’t sustainable yet, but when they make a decorative from a straw they used/skipped one disposable cutlery, they send me pictures. Which means they feel nice about making the effort and I also encourage them to keep going with whatever they can. I get tagged in so many such posts and it makes me so happy. That decorative is not going to save the world but at least we’re headed in that direction. What are your experiences with your near & dear ones in this fight for a sustainable life?
– Shwetha Parshi