How to Convince Someone to Care About the Environment

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Do you ever get intimidated to talk about the environment? Do you feel like the person you’re talking to just doesn’t care? This can be very distressing for any environmentalist – because we all should care about our planet!

Saving the earth from climate change will take all of us, so it’s essential people understand the importance of environmentalism. If you’re curious how to convince someone to care about the environment, here are some tips I have for you.

For your information – please note you should refrain from arguing, name calling and getting angry during talks about the environment. You want to set a good impression and make sure you’re approachable.

The same goes for the person you’re speaking to of course – you never have to put up with derogatory language or insults. There’s a difference between disagreement and straight up disrespect. Only start the conversation if you feel safe to do so.

How to Convince Someone to Care About the Environment – Table of Contents

  1. Let Your Actions Speak For Themselves
  2. Share Videos, Photos & Posts on Social Media
  3. Invite Someone to go Bulk Shopping with You or to the Farmers Market
  4. Talk to a Loved One About Climate Change
  5. Ask Your Parents About Climate Change & Discuss
  6. Directly Share an Informative Climate Change Article With a Friend

Indirect Action

Sometimes, speaking directly to someone about climate change can be very daunting. If you’d prefer to steer clear of any potential arguments, try one of these indirect solutions.

1. Let Your Actions Speak For Themselves

Sometimes, the best way to pique someone’s interest is to lead by example. This is often an indirect way to get people interested in environmentalism that doesn’t feel confrontational. Simply living a zero waste, low impact life can turn heads and make people curious.

In the past I’ve been out and about using my reusable straws or utensils and people have asked about them. It’s always a great conversation starter where I get to explain I’m trying to reduce my waste and share where I got the item from.

If you live with a loved one, starting a zero waste lifestyle slowly and considerately could pique their interest as well. I live with my folks right now and one of the first things I started doing was saving my food scraps to be composted.

I kept them in a takeout container in the fridge. Before I knew it, my mom had started adding her food scraps to it too. We eventually invested in a compost pail that currently sits on our counter.

Both my parents add to it now – and I didn’t even have to ask them to. I just did my own thing and they became interested. Now any time composting gets mentioned on the television my dad will proudly say “hey, we do that!”

So again, one of the best ways to get people around you interested?

Just live your life and lead by example.

Your friends and family will eventually start to get curious and ask questions which could lead to them making some sustainable changes too!

2. Share Photos, Videos & Posts & Social Media

A great way to educate your friends and family without directly conversing with them is to share content on social media about environmental issues.

You can do this a number of ways, be it an informative infographic, video, or article you found. A mix of content is probably best – not all doom and gloom, but not all toxic positivity either.

There are so many amazing eco-friendly content creators out there whose work you can share on your socials.

Some zero waste and intersectional content creators I love and follow include Going Zero Waste, Green Girl Leah and Climate Diva among so many others.

I also create content on Greenify-Me which you’re welcome to check out and share! Brush With Bamboo’s blog (including this blog post) is also something you can share.

For news, I like to check out Tree Hugger, Green Matters and Grist. Future Earth, The Slow Factory, Intersectional Environmentalist, and Green Peace are also great environmental organizations to follow.

Wherever you choose to get your news, make sure you’re sharing it to your socials in hopes to drive change and raise awareness. That should always be the goal. Who knows – maybe your loved ones will begin liking and commenting on your posts. Or even talking to you about it in person!

3. Invite someone to go bulk shopping with you or to the farmers market

Creating an experience for someone is a great way to generate interest and support for something. That’s why inviting someone to come with you bulk food shopping or to the farmers market is a great idea. This way, they can see for themselves what makes places like that so special – and you two can bond over it. 

Bulk food shopping is when you go to a place that allows you to fill up your reusable containers in their bulk bin section. The bulk bins can supply an array of package-free items from dried goods (like teas, coffees, herbs) to refillable liquids (dish soap, lotion, shampoo).

Usually, it’s very easy to shop here zero waste and plastic free. 

Farmers markets are also great places to shop plastic-free because mostly everything is package free. Also, almost none of the items for sale have those annoying produce stickers on them (which can’t be recycled).

You can use your reusable produce bags to store fresh produce without any waste. Plus, you’ll get to see what’s local and in season in your area. The taste can’t be beaten either because the food here doesn’t take forever to get to you! Or sit on the shelf for who knows how long.

Asking a loved one to come with you to one of those places will expose them to waste free shopping. They might even get into it and want to do it more themselves! It’s definitely a different experience you two will be able to reflect on together and possibly make into a habit.   

Direct action

Sometimes you have to have the hard conversations. Sometimes you can’t skirt around it – you have to get straight to the point and actively talk about the problem. Here are some ways to start the hard conversations.

4. Talk To A Loved One About Climate Change

The next time you’re at a family event or meeting up with a loved one, talk to them about climate change.

You don’t have to be aggressive or reprimanding – you can simply state facts. Sometimes it’s hard to start these talks for fear of what the other person will say or think. But they’re necessary, especially if you’re not sure where the person stands.

 Truth is, climate change is real and it’s not a matter of opinion. It’s a fact. And pretending it’s not happening won’t make it go away. 

You can begin your conversation by talking about some climate change news you recently heard or sharing a fact in a “did you know” kind of matter. Whatever is easiest for you and rolls off the tongue. 

Here are some environmental facts you can go off of and share:

  • The average American generates approximately 4.4lbs of trash per day.
  • Only 9% of plastic actually gets recycled and we’ve already generated more than 8.3 billion tons of it since its initial production in the early 1950s.
  • To successfully limit warming to 1.5°C, we must cut planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Each year 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, stormwater, and industrial waste are dumped into US waters.
  • Over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by pollution every year.
  • Indigenous people make up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet Indigenous lands and territories hold 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity.
  • 8 million metric tons of plastic waste gets dumped into the oceans each year.
  • The amount of plastic waste generated worldwide since the coronavirus outbreak is estimated at 1.6 million tonnes/day.

You don’t have to share all these statistics at once, nor should you. But you can pick and choose which you’d like to share based on the topic your conversation is about. For example, if plastic pollution is something you’re passionate about, start off with sharing facts about waste.

Just remember to be kind and approachable but assertive. And if the conversation goes south, end it as peacefully as possible without retracting what you said. You should never have to apologize for speaking the truth!

5. Ask Your Parents About What They Know About Climate Change & Discuss With Them

Sometimes parents aren’t exactly up to date with climate change related issues. Talking to them about it could help clarify things, especially if they’re not tech savvy enough to get news from reliable sources.

If your parents spend too much time listening to news that reports on climate change with cynicism, it could cause confusion and problems. 

Gently ask your parents what they know about climate change and discuss it with them. See what they say. They might surprise you! Share some facts with them and let them know if they’re misinformed with humility. Explain why and show them a credible news source, like a New York Times article. 

Parents are important role models in our lives and they’ve likely given us so much over the course of their lives.

It’s essential we give back to them by explaining things with kindness and clarity.

Because while climate change may not hurt them too much, it will hurt you and future generations. Including their grandchildren and great grandchildren. Making that clear will have a much more profound impact.

And even if you don’t plan on having children, your parents should still be able to understand there are people hurting now from the climate crisis as we speak. Talk to them about the ways fossil fuels harm the planet and exploit people. Show them videos if you can. 

Doing this may inspire them to switch over to more renewable energy in their homes, or reduce their waste in ways accessible to them. It’s impossible to say the impact your words will have on them but if they value your opinion and respect you, the outcome should be a good one.

6. Share An Informative Article on Climate Change Related Issues Directly With a Friend

Sometimes being direct can also mean texting. Sending an article directly to a friend about climate change and asking them to read it is a great way to start the conversation.

You can say something like “Hey, you gotta read this. Would love to hear your thoughts. It’s intense but important.”

The article can be about any issue that matters to you under the heading of environmentalism. Maybe it’s an article about the wildfires happening in California, the problem with overfishing and bycatch, or an article explaining the IPCC report. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that matters to you. 

Ask them how the article made them feel and see what kind of response they give you. If they’re receptive, and just as equally bothered, talk to them about some solutions. Ideally, actionable solutions you can both take from here on out. It’s important not to get too depressing or the message could be lost.

Most importantly – share solutions and action

Whenever you’re talking directly to someone about climate change, it’s important to not just bring up the problem, but the solution to those problems. You never want to leave anyone feeling hopeless. Also, sometimes people will get angry and say things like “so what do you expect me to do about it? That’s not my fault.” For situations like that, solutions are key.

Make it clear that it’s up to us all to collectively take action. While the fault lies on no one person alone, it is up to us to care because this, as earth is our shared home and there’s no planet B. 

Some solutions you can give them (which will vary based on the problem of course) include: 

  • Living a low waste life
  • Eating a more plant-based diet
  • Supporting local, small businesses
  • Calling out big polluters like Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co and Nestle
  • Ditching fossil fuels
  • Passing the mic to BIPOC communities
  • Ordering less takeout, making more at-home meals
  • Growing your own food
  • Shopping plastic-free
  • Joining a community cleanup
  • Sign a petition
  • Voting for politicians who have strong climate policies
  • Raise awareness on your campus

What to Say to Someone Who Doesn’t Care About the Environment

  • Let Your Actions Speak For Themselves
  • Share Videos, Photos & Posts on Social Media
  • Invite Someone to go Bulk Shopping with You or to the Farmers Market
  • Talk to a Loved One About Climate Change
  • Ask Your Parents About Climate Change & Discuss
  • Directly Share an Informative Climate Change Article With a Friend

How would you convince someone to care about the environment? Share your tips below!

About the Author: 

Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on Going Zero Waste, Mother Earth Living, Green Matters and several other publications. Get her free e-book “10 Ways to Reduce Trash” by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.

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