How to Engage the Unengaged on Green Issues {and Do Small Changes Even Matter?}

Small steps matter because they have the power to shift our perspective.

Last month I discussed how it's tough to get folks to pay attention to issues such as climate change because 1) the consequences are far off and the problem is impossible to perceive with our senses and 2) it's depressing and humans avoid thoughts that cause negative emotions. In light of these challenges, on this blog as well as on Facebook I posed the question:
What are your best strategies to get others to be interested in green issues and to change their behavior?

Thank you to all those who took the time to respond! Responses included:
  • Use a positive "hook" (going green is fun, happy, saves money!) that often involves self-interest
  • Avoid preachy stance (avoid shame, judgy-ness, greener-than-thou attitude; be empathetic; admit own shortcomings)
  • Keep it light (use humor, be lighthearted, skip all the depressing details)
  • Lead by example
  • Provide actions to empower people
  • Focus on the next generation
  • Be aware of the power of language (some uncomfortable being "environmentalists")
  • Seek common ground (for example, everyone who gardens/ farms feels connection to planet)

Some expressed skepticism about the impact of small individual changes, arguing that the problem is urgent and what we need are big changes such as getting climate deniers out of elected office and dramatic policy changes at all levels of government. Of course, how exactly to make those big changes happen is the gazillion-dollar question.

I mostly write about small incremental changes on my blog. In the face of an enormous and complex problem such as climate change, it's easy to wonder if that's useful or if it's enough. Here is why ultimately I think it's worthwhile to continue to do so:



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