Try to tackle individual topics–landfills, global warming, extinction– instead of the environment as a whole. Something might register with the person you’re trying to convince. If you convince them to care about one thing, you may find it easier to convince them to care about others given that environmental problems often have overlapping causes and effects.
Above all, provide evidence. Good evidence, from reputable news sources and scholarly journals if at all possible. Google Scholar provides a wealth of those, I believe. Good luck!
Passion spreads like wildfire. Not everyone responds to forced action. Many people are led by inspiration. If you genuinely care about the environment, and are excited to do what you can, others will notice that about you and notice the happiness it creates for you. They will want to discover the same feeling, and by you being you, they will be guided to do the same.
People respond more to freedom of choice than being confined to a particular decision. Show them…it should yield more results than telling someone when it only falls on deaf ears.
Education is a very important key. Always make sure to politely inform people about what is happening to the environment. If you see someone littering or doing something else bad, politely point this out to them. In my experience, the person will be mad at first, but then voice their opinion and then wait to hear your side of the situation. Patiences are very important!
Also, support local, national, or international organizations with similar objectives and ideas as your own. This will allow you to meet other people and not feel alone in the huge battle to try to protect the environment!
Give them a reason to be interested in the protection of the environment, and base it off their rational self interest. An example could be urban runoff as a water pollution problem. The average citizen may not care (or know) about why this issue is important, but if you frame it in a way that matters to them, they will become interested. An example of this would be explaining to them that urban runoff causes public beach closures (due to the degraded water quality) and that this prevents them (the private citizen) from using the beach when they want, and their tax dollars pay for the maintenance of said beach. So they should be concerned because urban runoff is denying them their privilege of enjoying the public resource they have helped fund.
I think, those that resist changing their ways to help preserve the environment generally respond to saving money. If you can explain to individuals how taking shorter showers, using cold water to do laundry, turning off lights and choosing a hybrid car for their next auto purchase will end up saving them money in the long run they will likely find the motivation to jump on the movement.
I rarely try to make people care specifically about the environment. Instead, I focus trying to educate people into making changes (that are good for the environment) that are simple, healthy for them, and saves them money. Most people care about things only as much as they can see it affecting them. Going vegetarian is good for their waistline, green appliances are good for their wallet. This methodology, unfortunately, makes it hard to convince people to start recycling. If I am trying to convince someone who cares about me to recycle, I simply tell them it’s important to me and explain why.
I think it’s important to remember that no one likes to be guilted or forced into believing something. I know a lot of people who have been turned off of the environmental movement because of how pushy some people can be with their beliefs. Remember that leading by example is a great way to convince people to join the environmental movement. If you’re engaged with someone, be respectful of their current beliefs and habits and remember, don’t not to be too pushy or self-righteous about being an environmentalist.
I first became interested in the environment when I started reading about global warming on my own in high school. I would often read the news online when I was bored, and one day I came across an article about the melting ice in the arctics. This then got me thinking about what the world would be like 40 years from now when I was grown with a family, and how this would impact my life. Suddenly the issue became very real to me, and I needed to change my lifestyle so I could create a better future for myself and future generations.
Overall, I think people need to discover things on their own, rather than have them “preached” or forced upon themselves. This way, your true passions and feelings can help you make positive change.
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