How to Effectively Motivate Friends and Family to Save Our Planet

By: Katia Shek

I don’t know about you, but despite my continuous efforts to preach to my friends and family that THE EARTH IS DYING, they remain indifferent to their planet going up in flames. They often think of my beliefs as a joke by dubbing me as an “extremist” for refusing a straw.  


As young people who are aware of the environmental crisis, we have the duty to influence others and harvest an environmentally sustainable spirit within our communities. However, despite our passion and strong desires to alleviate our own carbon footprints, sometimes, it almost seems impossible to inspire the people around us or make them change the smallest habits, like bringing a reusable bag.


So here it is! A guide to effectively motivate your friends and family to save our dear planet.


1. Lead by example


No one likes a hypocrite. If you want people to start bringing their own takeout box, first, do it yourself.  This creates a picture of what is possible and what is easy which then allows your friends and family to start thinking, “Well if she can do it, I can do it too”. Changing small habits also demonstrates your dedication and passion for helping this large cause, which hopefully instills a sense of urgency for people to begin taking action.


Leading by example does not just apply to actions, it also applies to mindsets. It is definitely a difficult topic for people to swallow because accepting the fact that fossil fuels are estimated to run out in 40 years is not something people want to believe. It is terrifying and requires an open-minded person to realize that. Therefore, it is important that we stay open-minded when others talk about the causes they believe in and that we treat their beliefs with the respect that we want.


2. Indirect advertising


Pendants with illustrations of melting ice caps, coasters of choking turtles, tote bags with thought-provoking slogans, these are all visually striking images that act as constant reminders for your community to rethink their actions. 


3. Effective preaching


Storytelling is an incredibly powerful and holistic technique. When explaining to others why we must all unite to create large changes in the world for our planet to heal, though statistics are helpful, personal anecdotes are also important. Hearing about inspiring stories especially from someone close to them is always a great way for people to develop understanding, respect, and appreciation.  


Though we want people to feel a sense of urgency within the crisis, we also do not want them to feel negative and hopeless about the situation. This is where empowerment comes in. Always emphasize the fact that every personal choice matters because all of these small changes build together to create a large, meaningful impact. Let’s look at the Black Lives Matter movement where people around the world have been moved by injustice. By signing a petition, sharing on social media, marching in a protest, we, as a united front have led to laws being changed, organizations receiving large amounts of funding, and different layers of racism now being brought to light like never before. The power that we as individuals have is beyond our imaginations and I firmly believe that if everyone knew this, we would not have to face so many alarming issues. 


Adding on, make sure to praise your friends and family whenever they do something positive for the environment. It could be a conscious decision or an unconscious one, but in this case, you could also take this opportunity to share a cool fact. E.g. Praise your friend for accidentally drinking oat milk because compared to actual dairy milk, he is reducing a large percentage of land use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions.


On a less positive note, many psychologists believe fear is the best motivator because it is a primal instinct that keeps us alive and a commonly used marketing technique. Unfortunately with climate change, it is way too easy to find chilling facts that jolt people out of their routined lives. Here is a starter pack:


  • The worst impacts of climate change are most likely irreversible in 10 years

  • More than 1 million species are at risk of extinction by climate change


4. Sharing


Knowledge is power and sometimes, our own words are just not enough to really inspire our friends and family. In this case, try organizing movie nights with environmental documentaries, taking them to modern, vegan bistros, involving them in your service work or participating events.


5. Make it appealing


As an activist, you want to advertise climate change as the easiest, most cost-efficient, and healthy cause that one could contribute to. Lucky for us, it really is! For example, always bringing a reusable water bottle achieves all aspects of this because it is… 


  • Cost-efficient: You have access to tap water. Purchasing a filter is definitely a good investment in the long-term.

  • Healthy: Most disposable plastic bottles have BPA and research shows it may correlate with fertility problems, heart disease, and other illnesses.

  • Eco-friendly: Reduces the amount of oil for production, releases less carbon dioxide, less chance of ending up in a landfill, protects water and marine life because it actually takes more water to produce a plastic bottle than the amount put in that bottle for drinking!


Hopefully, with this guide, it will be less exhausting and more effective to motivate loved ones to save our planet! What are you waiting for? It may be difficult at times but always stay true to your cause. Adopt these practices now and become the influencer you have always wanted to be.