How do we convince our peers to live more sustainably?

Over the years I’ve struggled to get friends and family to make more positive decisions. Historically I’ve come from an impassioned position, where I start with the impacts of continuing the way we are. I always thought that if people are presented with the facts then they will make a change. The scientist in me says that this is the right approach, but it doesn’t get people to alter behaviour.

I’ve come to the conclusion that what actually gets people to make a change is to start with the practical benefits and talking about your own experience. I spoke to a father at nursery yesterday about why he didn’t cycle or walk to nursery and take the train to Oxford. He said that as both parents travel into Oxford it’s probably cheaper to drive, and I counter by saying that that probably isn’t the case when your factor in wear and tear of the vehicle. He agreed, and then we started talking about other benefits. I didn’t even mention the environment, but I think he’s likely to start thinking about making the change as a result.

So, here’s how I think you do it:

  1. Find something which someone does which could be improved.
  2. Outline to them that there are economic and health benefits of doing things differently, and potentially throw in a few facts about the environment (but don’t get too passionate :wink:).
  3. Let them respond and continue the conversation in a non confrontational chatty manner.
  4. Check in with them and tease them about their choices and make friends.

Does anyone else have any tips on the best way to influence friends and family?

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