Peer pressure is tough to resist, especially when it comes to living a more eco-friendly life.
A recent study revealed almost half of us have tried to cut down on consuming animal produce, or have attempted to go vegan, but have struggled to make it past the three month mark. Three quarters of those who tried said it would have been easier had they had the support of friends and family according to the research, which was commissioned by cereal-makers Kellogg’s.
Eating out if you’re the only one swerving Parmesan and charcuterie is hard, as is sticking to other eco-friendly life changes - we’re thinking walking instead of driving, holidaying in the UK rather than flying and taking your own coffee cup around with you, rather than grabbing that barista-proffered disposable one.
So how can you live in a way that’s better for the environment - while convincing your friends and family to join you?
“The most important thing is to lead by example and not judge,” Jen Gale, relationships expert and founder of podcast and website The Sustainable Life, told HuffPost UK.
“The last thing any of wants is to be ‘that person’ who people are rolling their eyes at behind our backs.”
Jen advises you to be “out and proud” with your sustainable changes, adding: “One of the best conversation starters I ever had was a pair of jeans that had been very visibly mended and patched to within an inch of their life.”
She continues: “I would often get nice comments about them on the school run, and it then felt really easy and natural to talk a little bit about fast fashion and how me patching my jeans is my own ‘quiet rebellion’ against our consumer culture - only I don’t think I expressed it quite so loftily!”
Jen also says that a bit of friendly rivalry or competition can go a long way, and suggests a challenge with a flat mate or partner to see who can produce the least waste over the course of a week.
“For anyone with a competitive streak this can be a great incentive to step out of their comfort zone and make some changes!”
However, she cautions not to get frustrated if people simply won’t listen. “Ending up in arguments is counter-productive and a waste of energy - easier said than done I know. Stick to your guns, know why what you’re doing is important to you, and keep making your own changes.”
“Remember your re-usable cup, your shopping bags and your water bottle. If someone comments on it, thank them, and let them know where you got it from, or how you manage to remember yours each time you go out.”
“You never know who might be watching and who you might be inspiring to change.”
Need some extra tips on making said changes? Claire Lyons, who runs The Frugal Family, an organisation helping families to live more eco-friendly, shared her ideas with HuffPost UK.
Cut down on food waste
Not only can meal planning minimise the food you throw away, but it can save you money, too.
“Our weekly food bill is often the biggest regular expense, so start meal planning. Make your own lunches instead of buying one and remember to take a refillable cup to avoid the dreaded disposable ones. I use William Morris cups which I also gift to friends, and for sandwiches and snacks I head to Etsy.”
Make your bathroom plastic-free
Claire advises getting rid of the single-use plastic that plagues most bathrooms: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel bottles and plastic toothbrushes, for starters.
“You can make up a plastic-free bathroom gift box as a great present. We love to support small and indie ethical companies and recently found Mimi Gifts, a great source for bathroom supplies.”
Protect the bees
Bees are a vital part of our ecosystems - and they’re under threat.
“Make a simple kit to save a bee in need should you see one while you’re out and about,” says Claire.
You need a tiny jam jar or old medicine bottle and a medicine syringe. Keep a little sugar solution in it and give a drop to any bees you see on the ground. If possible you can also grow some bee-friendly flowers in pots to help them out.
Ditch fast fashion
Having a capsule wadrobe means you cut down on clothes, shopping, and time wasted on deciding what to wear.
“Everything will go with everything else, meaning less faffing in the morning, which’ll save you time too. By having less you can also spend more on quality, ethically-made items that will last longer than cheap fast fashion. Creating your own style instead of just following trends will also allow your personality to shine.” Where Does It Come From is a great source of inspiration.