Part of living a greener life in my opinion is also educating others. It was seeming to me that just about everyone in the western world was aware of global warming, climate change and all sorts of other environmental concerns given all the recent press coverage. But we’re not there yet, not by a long shot.
As a pal of mine used to say: “whatever you focus on expands in your awareness”, meaning that if you’re passionate about something, in a positive or negative way, then it will seem to be all around you – and that’s certainly how it seemed to me about the new green revolution.
Take for instance this statement:
most plastics are made from crude oil.
We all knew that right? Well, it seems that as at April 2007, a vast majority of people aren’t aware of that fact – 70 percent it seems! According to this survey of 500 Americans, 40% also believe that plastics are, generally speaking, biodegradable!
These people aren’t stupid, they just don’t have the correct information yet. Many people’s attention is focused on paying the rent and putting food on the table. During what spare time they have, many prefer to be entertained by the mass media to try and forget their struggles for a short while. Well over half of those surveyed admitted to having only a poor or fair knowledge of environmental issues.
When you’re talking to someone about environmental concerns, don’t take it for granted that they understand the basics of global warming or issues such as plastic in relation to oil – gauge a level of understanding first before getting into the uber-technical stuff or complex concepts.
Compile a list of easy to understand resources that you can refer them to. Sometimes inundating people with overly complex information scares them away from learning more. Educate in a supportive way rather than expressing shock at their apparent naivety. See it as a great opportunity to recruit another green army foot soldier :).
With the right basic information, people do change their opinions and approaches. For example, the survey mentioned above also found that after respondents learned that plastic is derived from oil, half said that they would be prepared to pay between 5 and 10 percent more for biodegradable plastics.
Simple facts and figures are a good way to get a point across. For example; something I didn’t know that I gained from the survey report is that approximately 2 million barrels of crude oil are used to make plastic each day. Another surprising figure is only six percent of plastic is recycled according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These sorts of figures people can get their heads around.
How many people do you email a day? A really easy way of getting the message out to others is through your email signature lines. Here’s some examples:
TIP: Make your own earth friendly disinfenctant!
TIP: Switching to CFL bulbs help combat global warming!
A brief tip or point followed by the link to a site that contains further information in an easy to understand format is a great way to help raise environmental awareness.
It’s up to each one of us to increase environmental awareness – don’t leave it just to big business, government or mass media to educate others.