Going Zero Waste How to Get Your Friends & Family On Board

 So, you started your very own zero-waste journey welcome to the eco-warrior club! It is a very exciting and shocking process by how much you will learn, and this new-found knowledge just makes you want to scream it from the rooftops and to every individual that will listen (been there, done that) and this is great! Sharing what you are passionate about, especially on an important global issue is something to be proud of- even more so if you are actively taking the steps to address it. Although plastic waste is now finally a “hot topic” and being widely discussed; the curtain being pulled back to reveal the horrific truth of our bad habits and addiction to plastic, there are still people who will not understand and the naysayers. I've been asked this question many times, “How do I get my family (partner, friends, group, work, etc.) to go plastic free?”

My answer: You can’t.

Zero-waste is a lifestyle that people must be called on their own to. Like everything, they must be at a point in life where they will be receptive to the information and discover it for themselves. It is their own journey to take so it won't look the same as yours, and that's okay. The more aggressive, pushy, and guilt tripping you are the farther you will turn them away from the idea. I have had to learn this through experience, and it is not so much that you intend to be aggressive, rather than when you are so passionate about something you want others to experience the same benefits you do. Even though you can't force anyone into zero-waste, there are ways to gently encourage them to find it on their own. Here are two ways to encourage zero-waste to others:

  1. Lead by example

This is the big one, according to research published in Journal of Applied Psychology, “One way to facilitate the behavior you want to see from others is to practice it yourself”[1]. You will be amazed by how well this works, rather than being like “This is what YOU’RE doing wrong…” it is better to just simply practice what you preach. By doing this you can create curiosity. When others approach you and ask a question on why you are doing what you do, THEN is the time to engage in a conversation, answer any questions, and give a little background on why you carry and behave as you do. I have had more success with this method then I ever did ranting to others. Additionally, it might stick to someone and they could get inspired to do their own research on the topic.

  1. Make it simple

If you live with someone who is not into zero-waste it can be a frustrating ordeal. However, leading by example as discussed above you can make it simple for the other individual to eventually transition by making it convenient to do so. For example, cloth napkins: if they are already laying out and you personally don’t purchase paper products, other’s that live in the same space will likely start using these swaps on their own.

In the end, you do you! Leading by example will get your point across farther then shaming others similarly by making zero-waste convenient it will further drive curiosity. This isn't always an easy task- but it is the most successful. People are more receptive when they are in an encouraging and supporting environment. Who knows what habbits they will pick up from hanging around you! As always best of luck!   



[1] http://www.bretlsimmons.com/2011-04/evidence-for-leading-by-example/