Going Green When Others Don't Understand

The following post is from Emily of Live Renewed:

Tree Hugger
source: Sebastian Werner

Green, crunchy, organic, tree hugger, sustainable, natural, responsible, granola… crazy — there are lots of adjectives out there to describe “going green”. Most of them have positive associations, but there are definitely some that would imply you may have gone off the deep end.

I am blessed to have several family members and friends who do a lot of the same “crazy” things that our family does that I can talk to, relate to, share ideas with and who support me and my family our on journey toward making positive changes in our life. I know how fortunate I am to have friends like this and that many people forge their own way toward green and natural living without much, if any, support from family and friends.

So, what do you do when others around you aren’t as gung-ho about green living and living responsibly as you are? How do you continue with the healthy changes you have made to your lifestyle without the support, and sometimes in spite of the criticism and questioning, of those around you?

1. Research

It’s important to have some solid information and facts so we can make the best decisions for ourselves and our families. If there are issues that are important to you, or that you wish that you knew more about, research can help to encourage and inspire you to make important changes in your life. It also helps when others around you might question why you do what you do, so that you can give an informed and well thought out answer.

When I tell people that our family uses cloth diapers, I have gotten the question on multiple occasions, “Well, doesn’t the energy and water used to wash and dry cloth diapers make them just as bad for the environment as disposables?” Ideally, I can answer them with some statistics on the amount of energy required to produce disposable diapers, instead of a meager, “Yeah, they do use energy to clean and dry them, but it’s not the same…”

We believe that the way that we live, the decisions we make, the changes in our lifestyle, do make a difference in our lives and our world. But, sometimes just believing is not enough; we need some solid facts and evidence to back up what we believe. So do your research about issues that are important to you.

2. Be Confident

Once you have researched and know the whys behind your choices, be confident about the changes you are making in your lifestyle. When you know that living more naturally has a positive effect on your life, your family, and your health, you don’t have to apologize about it to others.

Having confidence in the way you live will show others that you’re serious about it and not just jumping on the “go green” bandwagon, and it may help to curb some of the questions or criticisms from those who think you’re just a little bit crazy.

3. Avoid the Attitude

Sometimes people criticize because they feel insecure about their own choices or way of living. Try to avoid giving off the “us versus them” attitude, and recognize that you were probably in the other person’s place not too long ago.

Encourage and help others to make changes in their life without being pushy or preachy by thinking back to what spurred you toward change when you were first starting out. When you connect with others instead of distancing yourself from them, you can help to diffuse some of the reason that they might criticize you in the first place.

Taking a Walk
source: Katherine Johnson

4. Walk the Talk

“Actions speak louder than words.” One of the best ways to encourage others who may be a little resistant toward going more green, is just to live it out in your everyday life.

When someone questions you about how you can live without paper products in your home, invite them over for dinner and show them how easy it is for your family to use cloth napkins and other cloths and wipes in the kitchen. Walking the talk helps to open up conversation so you can explain why you do what you do and gives you an opportunity to encourage others to make positive changes in their lifestyle too.

5. Keep Your Resolve

Sometimes in the face of criticism or feeling unsupported it can be tempting to go back to what others may consider more normal or acceptable. Researching, having confidence and walking the walk will all help you to keep your resolve when you feel unsupported or misunderstood.

Remember that your lifestyle choices do matter and make a difference, and even small, baby step changes that you make can add up to big overall change over time.

How do you respond when people question or criticize your green lifestyle choices?

Emily McClements is passionate about caring for God’s creation while saving money at the same time. She is a blessed wife and mama to two young children, and blogs about her family’s journey toward natural and simple living at Live Renewed.