By Katie Greiss:
Woot! Holidays are just around the corner, and since we understand nobody wants a lecture on climate change during family (virtual) cocktail hour, there are some super simple sustainable lifestyle habits you can casually share (hint, nudge) with loved ones. These tips not only help the planet, but will make people’s lives easier too! From little kids to grandparents, there are many small actions that can be taken to help your family and friends transition to sustainable living.
For young children
If you have any small humans in your life, it can be easy and fun to get them on board with sustainable habits! Kids are like sponges; they soak up and adapt to what their families say and do. So what better way to take advantage of that than to start them early on a greener living journey? Try these tactics to get your littles involved:
Pack their school lunches in reusable containers: From a sturdy lunchbox to containers of every size, ensure your little ones head off to school each day with a zero-waste lunch. Swap out the pre-packaged granola bars for fresh produce or crackers and dip. Don’t forget their reusable water bottle!
Teach them about compost and recycling: If you instill proper waste-sorting habits early, it will save you time and headaches down the road. Turn it into a game, with easy-to-interpret pictures on each of the recycling boxes. Kids will have fun and adopt good habits.
Buy secondhand clothes for children: As eco-conscious adults, we are happy to thrift, swap, and buy secondhand for ourselves. It makes even more sense to shop that way for children! They grow out of clothes in sometimes a matter of months and are often rough on their clothing with their activities. Choose secondhand clothes first, and you get to save on expenses as well.
Cook plant-based recipes for young children: Cooking plant-based meals is the best way to teach kids about sustainable food choices and expand their palate. Making these meals tasty and exciting ensures they will not only get the most nutritious types of foods possible, but will also teach young ones that they aren’t missing out by cutting the meat.
Trying to convince the non-eco conscious people in your life to adopt new sustainable habits can be difficult, until you show them just how easy it can be:
Save shopping time and money by gifting experiences instead of material items: Especially around the holidays, we tend to shower our loved ones with gifts they often don't even need. More times than not people will remember a new experience than a material item. A girls trip to the spa, weekend getaway with your partner, or even purchasing a cleaning service for your sister’s house all make fantastic gifts that won’t contribute to the hyper consumption and waste over the holiday season.
Make it so easy they will do it out of convenience: By making small swaps around your house, your partner or roommates will adopt habits without even knowing it, just because it’s easier for them. Install a low-flow shower head (they won’t even notice!); put the food waste bin in a more accessible location than the garbage bin; start a fun weekend tradition of going to the farmer’s market before hitting the grocery store. There are so many simple, convenient actions that make a difference.
Show them how secondhand shopping has enhanced your lifestyle: In a world of online influencers, you can be one to your network just by being excited about your clothes! Wear your secondhand purchases with pride, post about it on social media, and happily tell people where you got that cute vintage piece. Once people realize how beautiful, high quality, and unique secondhand wardrobes are, they’ll want to join you, too.
For older adults
Helping your parents or grandparents adopt greener lifestyles can be simpler than you may think! Many sustainable habits will also ease their day-to-day life.
Install motion-sensor lights: It’s not just older adults that forget to switch the lights off, but it can be especially helpful for them. Over time, it’ll save hours of unnecessary electricity, and lower their hydro bill.
Gift them a smart thermostat: The Nest is a learning thermostat that adapts to the user’s schedule. They only need to set it for a week, and it will start to learn their habits and set the temperature lower, and to its eco setting, when possible. The schedule and temperature can even be adjusted from their phone. Most importantly, it will save energy and money!
Help them start a garden: If their living space allows, you can get them started on a backyard garden. It might become a new hobby, it will save them money and trips to the grocery store, and bonus – you get to reap some of the (yummy) benefits.
These tips are, of course, just some first steps. There are so many easy and fun ways to get your family and friends involved in a more sustainable lifestyle. The more excited you are about green living, the more willing others will be to listen and learn more about it. Let us know what other simple tips you use to get your family on a path to eco-friendly living!