Motivating Environmental Friendliness
About the Author
Kate Archbold is currently obtaining her Masters in Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship, after spending the last three years as an IBACS student. She likes international adventures, reading, movies and window-shopping online. Has mastered the arts of definitely not remaining calm, preaching what is politically correct when drunk on homemade pornstar martinis and making the most delicious brownies (fact!).
Motivating Environmental Friendliness
Last Thursday was Earth Day, a day that marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. Previous to April 22 1970, mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental issues and their dangers. As of this year, Earth Day sees over one billion individuals take action to change human behaviour and policy on global, national, and local levels, in over 190 countries. In the past years, the ravages of climate change have become apparent, so thank goodness that similarly to the 1970s a new and frustrated generation is standing up and demanding change (Earth Day, n.d.).
Even though I had been bombarded by images of burning rainforests and turtles with plastic straws up their noses long before, my environmental friendly journey truly began when I briefly lived in Western Australia in 2017. A family friend took it upon themself to drive me to as many places in the state as humanly possible. Driving through the beautiful, somewhat empty, pristine Australian landscape was a beautiful experience. That being said, after a while, you start to notice discarded packaging being stuck in the shrubbery. Or those that have not been caught in the shrubbery yet, slowly making their way to the ocean. Another wake-up call was that, contrary to the household where I grew up, the house I stayed at in Australia did not separate plastic, paper, compost, glass, and general waste religiously. It was a wake-up call that around the world so many people did not think twice before throwing something away. Something incredibly foreign to me; I was raised to be actively aware of the trash that I garner throughout the week as well as how it could be best disposed of or serve a purpose after. More so, I have to admit that influencers that I (still to this day) follow, such as @mylifeaseva and @chessieking, aided in making me feel empowered enough to be part of the solution as opposed to the problem.
Beach in Geraldton, Western Australia | photo by K.Archbold
When I returned to the Netherlands I dove into the world of reusable bags, straws, water bottles and coffee cups. More so, I cut down on my dairy and meat consumption, washed my clothes as little as possible and let them air dry and encouraged my friends and family to do the same. However, recently I have felt I have lost my edge and motivation when it comes to pushing myself and those around me into more environmentally sustainable solutions. For instance, I always seem to forget my reusable bags, cups and straws, yet still purchase a coffee or water on the way, and justify it to myself with the most recurring lie I tell myself: “It is only the one time…”. An excuse that seems to flow over occasionally into all my sustainable friendly efforts.
There are several reasons I think have made me lose motivation when it comes to environmental sustainability. The biggest one might be that governments and big corporations are not doing enough, or simply refusing to do anything. Thus, leaving it to individuals to undertake to Sisyphean task of fighting climate change, which can be quite heart-rending and potentially eco-anxiety inducing. Anyhow, I have decided I want to let go of this negative energy and once again push myself to be environmentally friendly, so let’s focus on what could get my (and maybe your) motivation back when it comes to living more environmentally sustainable lives.
The field of conservation psychology researches individuals’ attitudes and behaviour towards the natural environment. In doing so, several ways to motivate yourself and others to become more environmentally friendly have been found (Fischhoff, 2020):
Educate yourself! Everyone should know why action is necessary and how to go about it. More so, people tend to be more affected by stories than abstract facts. So make a point out of watching documentaries such as Sir David Attenboroughs’ A Life On Our Planet and similar films. More so, make an effort to do it time and time again: Fischhoff (2020) argues that repetitiveness is necessary for the severity to sink in.
Look for people who inspire you, be that formal or informal. As previously mentioned, influencers that I followed on Instagram have motivated me to be a part of the solution before. Since the search for newfound motivation started I have started following the following accounts, which thus far has helped me immensely: @gretethunberg (obviously this queen could not be missing from this list), @easyecotips, @diet_prade, @avajules_ and @chicksforclimate. Or even join a beach clean-up or a similar undertaking to surround yourself with like-minded individuals.
Make practical items that allow you to be more environmentally friendly available. Invest in those reusable items; what is more exciting to use a new item that hopefully will motivate you in becoming a better version of yourself.
Take it in small steps, people are not fond of radical changes. Also, keep this in mind when it comes to regaining your motivation, do not expect to go back to your most determined ways in a short amount of time.
Last, but definitely not least, let ACE know what you think they can do to become more environmentally friendly as a student association. Due to the pandemic, the association has had a lower carbon footprint than in previous years. That being said, they have also put several initiatives in place to be more green. For instance, the EmbrACE Magazine will mainly exist as an E-zine. More so, maybe you were one of the lucky people to have gotten your hands on an ACE reusable coffee cup (see item 3!). However, as always, there is more that could be done, so if you feel inspired and think you could aid IFA ACE to be more green, do let them know! Every little bit helps, so do not be shy or hold back.
Writing this article for EmbrACE has truly motivated me again to put more pressure on myself to be more sustainably friendly again. In turn, I hope it has rejuvenated your motivation to join me in being part of the solution, not the issue. Happy Belated Earth Day!
Earth Day. (n.d.). The History of Earth Day. Earth Day. Retrieved on April 24, 2021. https://www.earthday.org/history/
Fischhoff, M. (2020, June 22). How to Motivate People Toward Sustainability. Network for Business Sustainability. Retrieved on April 23, 2021.