Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Preaching Green

Yesterday, I took my son to his friend's house and as we rode up on our bikes we saw his friend's family unloading their car full of groceries packed in plastic bags.

After dinner last night, my husband was doing the dishes (yes, he does them every night - I got a good one), and as he was wiping down the counter he left the water in the sink running.

Later in the evening, I went to tell my neighbor something as she was pulling up, and she too had a car full of groceries packed in plastic bags.

Last night I had a dream. I dreamt I went to the grocery store and left with everything in reusable bags. But when I got home and opened the back of the car, everything was DOUBLE BAGGED in plastic. When I walked in my house, everything was wrapped in plastic grocery bags - the books on the shelves, the stuff on the coffee table. Plastic bags were everywhere. And then all of these people came out from different rooms with a look on their faces that seemed to be challenging me to say something as if I was being dared to call them on this plastic.

Who could have ever predicted that my nightmares would have ever looked like this?

I do not want to become a pushy green preacher.  I wonder how it's best to approach people, including my own husband, when I see that they could easily be doing what they are doing in a greener manner.

By now most people close to me know what the focus of my writing has become. And often, in conversations people offer me a guilty apology when they mention something they did that wasn't particularly green. How am I to respond?

I believe that living by example is a much better way to influence people than preaching at them. I'm ready to talk to them about how they can make changes in their life to be more environmentally friendly, but I need some sort of invitation from them first.

So my question, readers, is how would you like to be approached in one of the scenarios that I opened up with? Would you be open to being approached at all? What's a good way to be give helpful suggestions without sounding judgmental? 

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Alison said...

The plastic bag thing is hard depending on where you live. There are many parts of the country that just don't have the awareness about plastic bags that the larger cities have. It seems to just be coming into vogue in our community to get off the plastic bag kick, and I had to be introduced to envirosax by a friend. She came over to show off her fabulous new reusable grocery bags and offered to lend me hers for a few weeks. That was enough to get me to buy my own. I guess that was a good way to go - education in disguise.

Despairing said...

I'm so wary of preaching, I almost never do it. If someone opens up the conversation then I'll tell them about my "beliefs", but other than that I'm a regular Joe as far as the world is concerned. I think it's important for people to see that you don't have to change into a completely different person to achieve a level of greenness.

2 points I want to make - who's to say that the person unloading the car wasn't inspired by seeing you ride up on your bike and will give it a try, leading to other things in their life?

Also, if someone confesses a green guilt to me, I usually say "well, at least you realise, what really gets my goat are the people who blindly pollute without thinking..." That lets them know you're not going to get mad at them or castigate them, and they can feel part of this green "thing".

Robin Shreeves said...

Thanks for your thoughts, guys.

I'll continue to teach through example. I'm glad to know there are others out there doing it, too.