7 Helping Others to take the Green Path

We have all been there. At a party and the host is using disposable plates and cutlery. Our inner green diva screams as we stand there wondering what to do. Grab the plate and get some food, grab the spare plate we just happen to have in our purse (people do do this) or don't eat anything? I take it as an opportunity to educate and not preach I try to lead by example with own actions when it is my turn to throw a party. I show how easy it can be to use real dishes when hosting 30 people.

Convincing people to take the green path can be hard. Each situation is different. Some people need scientific evidence (Joe), some need to know that it is not going to cost them a fortune, some just want it to be easy. Not being easy is the #1 reason I hear why people do not make green choices. Wash 30 plates or throw 30 plates in a big black garbage bag? The latter sounds easier doesn't it? So I asked Joe. His reasoning is that he sees it as more work to go out and get 30 plates (from a second hand store) that can be reused at every party than it is to pick up paper plates each time we have a party.

What can be done to change that thought process? Joe's answer was not simple. He would need two questions answered.

1. Where will the plates, utensils and glasses be stored when not in use?
2. What is the cost difference between buying used plates to be reused and buying disposable. When would we break even and start to save money?

While this is just one small example of the struggles people can face every day it shines the light on why we often see people taking the easy route. For those of us already far into our green journey we often see the green choice as easy. Buy 30 second hand plates? Super easy! But to truly affect change in others we need to understand how these simple situations can see daunting to others. By helping people work through the process and show them that the green lifestyle won't always cost more money and won't take up all their cupboard space we can really help them to pick that green path more often.As each green solution is made it will get easier to make the next. Slowly over time there will be less need to justify each decision, less questions will be asked and it will become second nature to make the best choice.

What can you do to help others?
* Leave your judgement at the door. Not everyone will be as green as you and that is okay.
* Lead by example. Show that being green can be easy and affordable.
* Be approachable. You want people to ask you questions so they can learn!
* Be supportive.
* Share examples of where you have saved money being green.
* Offer advice when asked but don't shove it down people's throats. You don't want people to pick the less green option on purpose just to piss you off (you know people will do this).

How do you help others pick the green path? Have you ever scared someone away from the green choice?


  1. I'll admit to being guilty of the disposable plates thing for bigger parties. My "green diva" hates it... but not owning a dish washer, its daunting to think of the multiple rounds of washing it would take to get through 30 plates, plus cutlery, plus serving dishes, and cups. So normally plates are the things to get cut (we used regular, reusable stuff for the rest).

  2. It's really such a fine line between preaching and teaching. I find it particularly hard to share information with my friends and family ... for some reason, total strangers are more inclined to hear my message than those closest to me. I haven't quite figured that one out yet. The best situations, for me, are when someone sees me making a choice at a store or doing something different and they ask me about it ... they are usually curious and open to what I have to say. Just a thought on the reusable plates for a party and the cost ... buffet type restaurants never use paper plates and I have no doubt that if they thought it was cost effective, they'd do so. And personally, I'd much rather have a real plate at a party than a paper plate ... I love a sturdy dish that won't bend, break or leak. Thanks for a wonderful post!

  3. @Meegs - do you pick the plates based on how you can dispose of them? So looking for one's that can be composted or recycled? I think that is always a good next solution if you isn't possible to use reusable.

  4. So very true! I find it easier to offer suggestions or share my story with those not as close to me sometimes too. I can't explain why...maybe less judgement felt?

  5. Great post and I agree preaching and teaching is a fine line. I'm learning to take every opportunity to teach my family and friends about greening their lives.

  6. I have about 15 plates, 3 different sets. If I needed more, I would not be shy to ask my family or close friends to bring some to the party so I can use them, and give them back. I agree with Cyndi, my family and close friends know where I stand. For example, at my nieces birthday party my sister bought disposable plates and such. I didn't say a word, I just asked if I could use a real plate for myself and little E. She of course said no problem. I have done this at my friends places when they have disposable plates and such, or I just bring my own. I always have a peopletowels with me to avoid napkins. With my family and certain people, I just piss them off if I say something; so I have learned to keep my mouth shut. If on the other hand they ask, they have now opened the door, and perhaps some verbal "green" diarrhea might come out! LOL Great post, Jen!

  7. Asking to use real when disposable is offered is a good alternative too Steph!