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Getting environmental skeptics excited without freaking them out

When you start throwing around words like sustainability, fossil fuels, and carbon footprint, environmental skeptics just shut you out, and it all starts to sound like blah, blah, blah. Or, they get into arguing, which isn't the point of this post.

When you add in phrases like "protecting our natural resources" and "preserving humanity's health" the (non-argumentative) person you're standing next to begins to scoot closer to her car. Or at the very least, she grabs her keys to let you know she's gotta go pretty soon.

It's not that people don't care. But sometimes, it's okay to take it slow with environmental newbies or those who are environmental seekers or still undecided. I'm not saying those who aren't on the environmental bandwagon are unintelligent or uncaring. Most environmental skeptics already have access to many of the current data points, and most of them also care. In other words, they're not ignorant monsters!

They might not agree that global warming is imminent or that humans have contributed as part of the problem (but they probably get uncomfortable when you mention the impact that 8.1 billion humans are having on the planet). Regarldless of what's causing climate change and depleting our planet of its limited natural resources (good and bad stuff, plus everything in between), the best hope is a bipartisan response!

So, the delivery matters. Just start the conversation out like you're chatting about which coffee roast tastes better--dark or medium. Instead of using cringey green words and phrases, ask a few easy-to-agree-with questions. For starters, you could posit: "Isn't it great how we can all make small changes to care for wildlife and the planet?"

I mean, who answers "No" at this point? (But I know, there are some who do!) Staying on track, if your newbie says it's cool and she's even looking for a few ways to make more changes, take the conversation to the next level. Discuss avoiding single use plastics and making more sustainable choices--like picking products with biodegradable packaging and eco-friendly ingredients/materials. This could also mean opting for goods and pastimes that are carbon neutral (targeting net-zero carbon emissions) like buying locally sourced produce or walking/riding her bike when possible.

If she's NOT on the same page at this point (it's okay if she doesn't agree with you), try to keep the conversation light. Just share about why you love animals and getting out into nature. For example, you could say, "Going hiking around wildflowers or walking at the beach reminds me I'm not alone on the planet." You could add, "I love watching sunrises and sunsets since they make me feel peaceful."

That's it for this one. Keeping to the tenor of the title, there's nothing here to freak them out. Now, go enjoy that thrilling mountain hike or that breathtaking beach-walk! And pick up a few pieces of trash along the way (to dispose of responsibly). If you can utilize your reusable packaging materials this week, grow your own foods, or buy locally--even better! See, we're basically saying the same thing, just in slightly different ways!

--Written by Author Dianne Bright

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