3 Tips For Furthering a Grassroots Environmentalist Movement
If you’re part of a grassroots movement to educate people about preserving the environment, you’re probably using social media to reach as many people as possible. While social media is a fantastic resource for raising awareness, the effects can be fleeting if your efforts aren’t backed by a solid strategy. A strategy is more than a checklist of tasks.
If you want to reach people so they’ll remember your message, you have to leave an emotional impression on them. Here are some tips to make that happen:
1. Show people how deeply young kids care about the environment
Adults care about the environment, but you won’t see them screaming, crying, or throwing a fit when they see something out of place. Adults are good at hiding their emotions and reactions; kids aren’t.
If you want people to get emotional about your cause, you have to show people getting emotional about your cause. The best source of emotionally charged expressions will come from children. For example, 6-year old Henry Marr saw a documentary at school, and his mom filmed him having a breakdown over trees being cut down and animals eating trash. His story doesn’t end with a breakdown. Since then, he’s written a book and declared himself the “planet police” of his neighborhood, cleaning up trash in the park near his home, and saving slugs along the way.
Several years back, there was another powerful video floating around YouTube showing a little girl screaming at her mom to stop the car. When they pulled over, the girl said she saw a bird eating a plastic bag, and made her mom walk her over to the bird to take away the bag.
When adults see kids going to great lengths to protect the environment, they’ll start to consider why they don’t have the same enthusiasm. They probably won’t throw a tantrum, but they just might pick up some trash next time they come across it.
2. Teach people something new
One way to get people’s attention is to teach them something new. Many people are aware of environmental issues but lack important knowledge that would prevent them from unintentionally hurting the environment. For example, many people switch from plastic bags to paper bags, but they’ve traded one wasted resource for another.
The context they’re missing is that the issue is about the use and abuse of resources, regardless of whether it’s paper or plastic. The resources required to produce paper bags is similar to what it takes to produce plastic bags. Also, neither one will decompose in a landfill. This makes switching to paper, not the heroic deed it appears to be.
Instead of creating flyers and handouts with general information and statistics, create a booklet with emotionally impactful data in the form of an illustrated story. Make your booklet something people will want to keep. Tell a good story, and insert lesser known facts, like the one in the next point.
3. Explain context to people using shocking examples
It’s important to get people to think regarding context. For instance, in one context, banana peels and apple cores are natural and will eventually decompose when left in nature. This is great news for your garden because food scraps make the best and cleanest compost. However, that same banana peel or apple core isn’t necessarily a good thing for the forest or the side of the road.
Most people would agree that no matter where it’s tossed, food scraps can’t be litter. However, there are two big reasons tossing food scraps in the woods is littering. First of all, an apple core takes about two months to decompose, and a fruit peel can take up to two years. During that time, animals that aren’t supposed to eat those foods will come and eat it.
The second problem is that trash gathers trash, whatever it’s made of. If you start tossing food scraps on the side of the road, other people will, too. Soon, there will be large mounds of food scraps and other pieces of trash, and it will be an eyesore.
Context is everything. The key to getting people to see food scraps as litter is explaining the context in which food scraps become litter.
Help people realize their own ignorance
Saving the environment is a casual affair when it’s something people can do without changing their core lifestyle, beliefs, and habits. When a person realizes their lifestyle is harming the environment, they have a choice to break their attachments and go all-in. You have the power to make them aware of that choice.