how to promote sustainability

For the final part of my Sustainable Athlete series, I want focus on how we can use our reach as athletes to encourage others to adopt more sustainable behaviours using my "Tell, Show, Do" approach.

Tell

Opening up conversations about sustainability is the first step to getting others on board with the movement. It’s often hard to start discussions about the environment without others feeling personally attacked but there are ways to navigate these tricky conversations without causing offence.

Here are my top tips for creating a conversation that will get others excited about becoming greener:

Be passive

One of the best ways to communicate about the planet is indirectly through social media platforms, avoiding direct conversations and reaching larger audiences. For instance, every now and then share an article or video about environmentalism on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram stories.

Talk from a personal perspective

Focus on things that you have found attainable and encourage others to do the same. I use examples of how I am acting sustainably by shopping at charity shops for my clothes and buying food from my local farmers market. By talking from experience, it removes the barrier of perceived unattainability.

Turn a sustainable action into a selfish one

People tend to understand a selfish action more than a selfless one. If someone believes they will benefit from an act, then they will be more likely to try it. For instance, I tend to talk about how going vegan has improved my overall mental and physical health as opposed to the ethical and environmental reasons I decided to move to a plant-based diet.

Get your facts right

Doing the correct research and understanding the facts are imperative before engaging in any conversation around the environment. If you are quoting credible sources and using scientific research, others will be more likely to listen and learn. Bad information will only invalidate your arguments.

Do

Practicing what you preach is imperative. It is important that others recognise that you are implementing sustainable behaviours into your life. Individuals will be curious about what you are doing which opens up a door for non-confrontation dialogue around sustainable living.

Show

Ensure that all your efforts aren’t going unnoticed and showcase your sustainable efforts using these top tips:

Use social media

Shamelessly brag about your sustainable actions by posting them online for all to see. This will encourage others to wise up to the movement and do the same. I often post my thrifted wardrobe to demonstrate that shopping at a charity shop doesn’t mean dressing like your Grandma.

Show people how it’s done

If you want your friends to get amped about shopping plastic free, take them on a trip to your local farmers market. If you want your Mom to realise how much fun shopping second-hand can be, take her to a really nice vintage boutique full of her favourite designers. If you want your grandparents to embrace a plant-based diet, invite them over for a vegan dinner party.

It’s no longer good enough to solely focus on your own actions when it comes to living a sustainable life. We now need to be striving for a global shift in behaviour to save our planet. Ensure that you are using your knowledge and reach in a positive way to help contribute to educating and encouraging others by following my ‘Tell, Show, Do’ approach.

About the author: Laura Smith is an accomplished triathlete and has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.