Dealing With Environmental Indifference

Indifferent ManDoes being eco-friendly sometimes feel like yet another “should do” on your long to-do list? Do you find yourself struggling to make consistent efforts to recycle, to conserve water and to be mindful of the environment? And do you sometimes feel like it’s just too much effort?

This isn’t a guilt-tripping blog. It’s okay to be honest with yourself and admit your eco-hating guilty secrets. None of us are perfect and, with so many causes and agendas to care about in the world (along with the day-to-day running of our own lives), it’s easy to struggle with environmental indifference.

Even when you’re feeling fired up about your green efforts, you might find yourself coming up against other people’s indifference. Maybe you’ve implemented an office recycling scheme, but people are still chucking paper in the trash. Perhaps you wish your partner would stop scoffing at your efforts to buy eco-friendly projects.

Here’s how to tackle environmental indifference — both yours and other people’s.

Look At What’s In It For You

Whether you like it or now, you probably find that self-interest motivates you. When your green actions tie in with a direct benefit to you, it’s a win-win situation. You help protect the planet, and you get more direct benefits too. Here are just a couple:

Being Green Means Saving Money

Adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle inevitably means saving money. Why? Because you’re rejecting rampant consumerism and the proliferation of disposable products. Green aficionados may find that there’s a little less strain on their wallet due to any or all of the following reasons:

  • Avoiding unnecessary foreign travel
  • Keeping lights and electrical equipment switched off (lowing bills)
  • Eating local, seasonal foods
  • Eating less meat
  • Using rechargeable batteries rather than disposable ones

If money-saving is high on your list of priorities (and let’s face it, in current times, it’s a focus for many of us), then check out Simple Eco-Tips That Can Save You $600 a Year.

Being Green Means Getting Healthier

Taking care of the environment and taking care of your own health often go hand-in-hand. Both mean taking a longer term view, and both require an acknowledgement of cause-and-effect. Plus, green measures often directly help you get healthier:

  • Walking or cycling rather than taking the care
  • Avoiding highly-packaged foods (which tend to be junk foods)
  • Buying local product — packed with vitamins not preservatives

If you’re looking to drop a few pounds before Christmas, try reading
4 Ways Saving the Planet Helps You Lose Weight.

Make Life Easy For Others

So you know what’s in being green for you, and perhaps you’ve conquered some of your own indifference. What about other people?

Accept That Not Everyone Shares Your Views

However passionate you are about all things green, be careful about evangelizing to others. It’s fine to explain the recycling box to your colleagues – but holding court at the water cooler about your political views is probably too much.

Sadly, not everyone in this world cares about environmental issues. We might wish that they did, or even feel that they should … but badgering them to do more is unlikely to get a favorable result.

Having said that, one of the best ways you can harness your colleagues, friends and family for the green movement is to put some practicalities in place.

Make Green Behavior Simple

One of the best things you can do is to make it easy for others to go green. If putting paper in the recycling is as easy (or ideally, even easier) than putting it in the trash, people will do it. If being green involves jumping through hurdles, they won’t.

You could help out at work by trying the suggestions in How to Make Green Easy for You and Your Office — or you could try getting your kids on board at home with Growing Green Kids.

Get Hopeful!

Many of us become indifferent and jaded because we’re not convinced that we can do enough to make any environmental impact. Perhaps we’re overwhelmed by the scale of problems like climate change, or the use of fossil fuels.

The good news is, there’s plenty to be hopeful about.

One Person Can Make a Difference

You might think that your actions are insignificant, but that’s not true. Just like with voting, the effect of millions of small decisions really does add up. Plus, as well as having a direct effect yourself, you can be an example for others. If you influence two people to become greener, and they influence two others and so on, you can see how the effect will snowball.

You Can Start With Simple Actions

None of us are perfect when it comes to being green. The good news is that you don’t need to make huge, sweeping changes in your lifestyle in order to start helping the environment — you can start small.

You don’t need to install solar panels on your roof (though it’s great if you do!) — how about just making some changes to your home office setup? Or making sure that you’ve got a good recycling system in place?

If you aren’t sure where to begin, start with 5 Baby Steps for Becoming Green.

How can you conquer your own indifference? What simple, practical steps can you take towards becoming more green today?

(Image above by Mr. T in DC)

3 Replies to “Dealing With Environmental Indifference”

  1. Simple actions and simple steps…how true, how true. While I agree with your sentiments that green habits are not everyone’s cup of tea – there comes a time when you have to speak out. If the drinking water we are all drinking is being poisoned, then I don’t care who I preach to – I want safe drinking water.

    That being said, the simple steps in short burst make it a lot easier for people to adjust. I’ve found that mentioning how people can save money sure gets a great response – demonstrate just how much and the response increases. Interesting what motivates – so if you have a motive to get people to go green, mention greenbacks.

  2. Thanks Stephen – and yes, sometimes we do need to get on our high horse a bit. Great tip about mentioning money saving, I suspect that’s a great way to get people more interested in green issues – especially in the current economic situation!

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