The reality of climate change presents worldwide challenges, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to understand. Many people don’t pay attention to environmental updates or want to believe them. At first, it’s frustrating to experience this when it happens with your friends or family, but everyone has to realize that there’s a psychology behind this way of thinking.
Behavioral change happens according to a transtheoretical model that creates the path forward to better understanding. Read on to learn about the psychology of people convincing people to go green. Efforts that align with the steps in this model will have the most chance of fostering lasting change in the people around them.
1. Make Them More Aware
Communication is the key to educating and creating change. When you talk with someone about the warming atmosphere, they may become disinterested or even defensive depending on how you convey the information.
The first step to convincing people to go green is to learn about effective communication styles to avoid misunderstandings. The person you have in mind might receive the information more readily if you write everything down in an email, talk with them over the phone or meet them for coffee and a chat. Think about when you’ve had great conversations with them before and what made the discussion so positive.
2. Give Them Something To Contemplate
Facts can be important or even intimidating, but they won’t mean anything unless people understand how the facts affect them. After communicating about the situation regarding the planet’s health, make sure the person you have in mind contemplates how it will impact their life.
The best way to do this is to describe the aftermath of environmental facts and have them ruminate on that image. Mention how the rising sea levels will destroy their favorite beaches with enough time and inaction. Talk about how climate change compounds global hunger for millions, ultimately reducing food availability in local grocery stores and restaurants. They may even be one of the many people enduring extreme weather events that have become more common because of the warming atmosphere.
Once they understand how climate change affects their lives, they can more easily see the devastation it causes across the world. Follow this stage up with the encouragement that there’s still time to act.
3. Show Them How To Prepare
Prepping for going green means spending time researching however they plan to make a lifestyle change. Talk about how your loved one could become more sustainable by growing a garden, starting a composting bin or carpooling to work. As they learn how to prepare for the change in their lives, they’ll feel empowered to act and confident in their decision. It’s also comforting to know you can take control of your carbon footprint, which reverses the potential panic they felt once they understood how climate change hurts people worldwide.
4. Cross The Actionable Tipping Point
The tipping point is often the most challenging part of convincing someone to go green. It requires action, which can be scary or seem impossible. People enjoy their routines, so change isn’t always welcome.
Still, you can stick by your friend or family member’s side and encourage them as they take their first steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle. A big way to do this is to point out how they could save money or become more easily convenienced by their progress.
Solar panels are a great example of this. They used to come with a costly price tag that made many homeowners stick with conventional electricity. Now they’re more affordable than ever and count towards solar tax credits that save people even more money.
Walking through the change with your friend or loved one eases them into their new lifestyle. Whether they install solar panels or find an alternative way to go green, they can help the planet one step at a time.
5. Maintain The Newly Found Passion
Lasting behavioral change only happens with maintenance. Forming a support network ensures success, so check in with anyone who starts living more sustainably. Ask if they have questions, if something’s not working out or if they want to share their recent successes. Celebrating and problem solving together will reinforce their new commitment to the planet.
Give Them Time
Climate change is a pressing issue, but it could take more than one conversation to educate and bond over sustainability with your loved ones. Now that you’ve learned the psychology of convincing people to go green, open a dialogue with the people you have in mind and keep it open as they learn about and explore their eco-friendly future.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.