I get many questions regarding my zero waste life. Questions like “How do you live a whole year and put your garbage can on the curb once?” or “How can just one person make a difference?” But one question I haven’t answered, “How do I get others to be zero waste or make less waste,” comes up very often. I feel that it’s time I answered. You might be genuinely surprised by my response.
We all want those around us to join our missions and support our passions especially if they aim to make the world a better place. Things could even be a little more difficult if you are living with someone who does not necessarily support your waste reducing endeavor. I get it. So, how do you encourage others to be zero waste? Can it be done? Yes. I’ve done it. And guess what? So can you!
Sadly, when it comes to waste creation, anyone you come in contact with can influence your trash pile. So how do you control others’ waste when they are around you?
You can’t control someone else’s will to reduce trash, period. Only a single person can be controlled as you move forward with your zero waste agenda and that person is yourself. However, there are a few tactics I use personally to influence others to be a little more aware of their footprint. All without coming across as rude, judgmental, or an elitist. Be kind. There’s already enough negativity in the world.
How to Encourage Others to be Zero Waste
Talk About Your Lifestyle
Make it known what you are trying to accomplish. Get excited about your lifestyle around others. Express your reasons for doing it and how you are making positive changes. Express how the changes have positively impacted your life. When I have friends or family over, I will show them my reusables as a conversation starter. It works every time. Make zero waste seem very enticing – because it is. You’re not trying to sell a lie here, zero waste living can make life simpler.
Also, let your friends and family get interested and come to you with questions. Keep that interest going by giving examples how the lifestyle could work with theirs and how those changes could work for them without seeming overly inconvenient. Show that there are many options for reducing waste because zero waste living isn’t an all or nothing lifestyle. It’s not about fitting a year’s worth of trash into a jar to be apart of the club. Zero waste is about doing anything you can no matter how small that change is. Progress, not perfection. Always.
Live By Example
You’re never going to get anyone to support your goals if you insistently make them feel bad for their decisions. We all started out by “not knowing”. There is absolutely no fault in that, ever. You can point out everyone’s failures all day long but that will get you nowhere. In fact, it will hurt your overall goal. Instead, I suggest that you venture forth into your new lifestyle with confidence and focus on doing it for you. This is your journey.
Set the bar when you are around others whether it’s at stores, restaurants, or at someone’s house. People always gravitate to those who are confidently doing something for the right reason, especially when they are doing it with humility.
Involve Others in Your Lifestyle
Invite your friends and family to be a part of your mission. Ask them to join you on a trash pickup, go to a local Zero Waste support group, or even participate in some kind of eco-friendly workshop. These are great ways to get others as excited about making a positive environmental impact as you. Get their feet wet. I also use gift giving as a way to introduce people to reusables.
Encourage Positive Change
Celebrate victories or interest. If someone mentions they decided to start using reusable bags or made any decision based on your influence, celebrate it with them! Just the other day, I had a friend mention to me that they opted for no straw when ordering their drink. Keep being that driving force for encouragement. Once that ball gets rolling, it will continue to roll.
Don’t expect for those around you to jump on board instantly or even jump on board at all. Again, you can’t control anyone else’s decisions. Just push forward and be a beacon of environmentalism, because if you do I can guarantee you’ll influence a lot of people.
How do you personally influence those around you to jump on the zero-waste train?