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If you’re reading this magazine, chances are you are probably already committed to living a sustainable, earth-friendly lifestyle – after all, the new generations are increasingly environmentally conscious. Involving friends and family in your lifestyle can prove tricky, as lifestyle changes are never easy. But having passed the initial barrier, it’s a worthwhile endeavour, especially as a 2014 study in the Journal of Consumer Research proved that bond by providing each other with moral support.
It’s likely that you’ll find that if you help people connect with the consequences of their actions and make them aware of how their everyday behaviours affect their carbon footprint, it will be much easier to present more sustainable alternatives that help keep the planet healthy. Read on for our top five tips on helping your friends care more about the earth.
Clue them in on high-polluting industries—and offer better options
Traditionally, the mainstream fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. From pesticides used to farm materials, to harmful dyes and the creation of synthetic fabrics, the extensive supply chain responsible for most fast-fashion outlets ends up causing major damage to the planet. Encourage your friends to band together and get creative when it comes to shopping. Spend a Saturday afternoon browsing second hand and vintage stores, rather than shopping big fast-fashion chains, arrange a clothing swap, or help them explore cool clothes crafted from natural materials and made by small companies committed to sustainable slow fashion.
The same goes for jewellery: traditional fine jewellery creates a tremendous amount of damage through irresponsible mining practices and makes use of toxic chemicals. Shop these pieces second hand, or better yet, explore lab-grown diamonds for sparkly jewels that are sustainable and much more affordable.
Find alternatives to single-use plastic
Make it exciting to cut down on those single-use plastic items that can clutter our landfills and overwhelm our oceans. If you have a friend who’s having trouble giving up their usual iced coffee in the grande plastic cup, take initiative and offer them a fun, go-green gift: a cute reusable coffee mug, a BPA-free water bottle, and a package of paper straws wrapped with pretty ribbon makes a practical, thoughtful, and adorable present.
Chances are they’ll enjoy their attractive new items, which makes it more likely they’ll remember them on their morning java run. Over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used every day in the United States alone, which can be incredibly harmful for the planet and for human health—once they hear that stat, surely they’ll fall fast in love with their new, sustainable straws and cups.
Cut down on time behind the wheel
Cities and towns are making it easier to ditch the car and get around, with cool options like bike and scooter shares. Tell your buds you’ll get more hangout time together if you bike to work, happy hour, or wherever you’re headed next. If these kinds of programs have yet to hit your town, try to convince your friends to make a pact and take public transit on a day when they’d normally jump behind the wheel. Given that every car emits its own weight in CO2 every year consider carpooling together ( bonus points if one of you owns an electric vehicle) or a ride share program that you can join, both of which help cut down the number of cars on the road.
Outfit your spaces with the planet in mind
There are a lot of ways to be more energy-efficient and earth-friendly at home and at the office. Again, encourage these changes in a way that also makes them feel enjoyable and social instead of pedantic. Making your own home cleaning products is healthier for your finances while cutting down on packaging and the use of harmful chemicals, and you can all save money by buying DIY cleaning ingredients in bulk and making a batch of cleaning products together.
If you work in a large office, try to raise the issue of incorporating green practices, such as using fewer plastic trash bags, less paper, and adopting energy-efficient lighting options for a happier, healthier workspace. Chances are, your work friends will be happy to support you if you show initiative to make changes—and point out the cost-cutting and waste-reduction that will occur along the way.
Find joy in vegan get-togethers
Consuming meat has tremendous implications for water usage, land usage, and water pollution, and studies indicate that modern farming and livestock practices account for up to 18% of greenhouses gases. Ideally you’d be the friend who inspires your group to go fully vegan (and in that case we applaud you), but if that’s too tricky, suggest doing Meatless Mondays together and talk up the benefits of a vegan diet, including increased energy, better focus, and assurance that you’re getting plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Try doing the Challenge 22 together, host a vegan potluck, or cook up a vegan feast for a few pals who might need convincing, and they’ll quickly see how tasty and easy it can be to cook without meat or animal products. For inspiration, here’s a list of amazing vegan blogs with plenty of recipes to keep everyone’s appetite satisfied.
Some people – understandably – find it difficult to making lifestyle changes, so your best bet is to introduce one change or new routine at a time. Armed with new info and the right tools and resources, your friends are more likely to invest in making the world a more beautiful, cleaner, happier place.
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Photos by Helena Lopes, Danielle MacInnes and Mariana Montes de Oca via Unsplash