Sometimes making ethical choices day-to-day can get frustrating. Especially when no one else seems bothered to. Countless times I’ve lugged around a reusable cup all day for no reason, or sighed at high street clothes that look gorgeous, but contribute to fast fashion. Many times I’ve heard phrases like, ‘well if you’re vegan then I can eat two burgers to make up for you,’ and, ‘it’s just one plastic cup, it’s not going to make a massive difference.’ And in those moments it can feel like your lifestyle choices are a bit alien to your friends. If that’s you, here are some helpful tips for encouraging those around you to live more ethically.

Lead by example 

It’s easier to make changes in your lifestyle if you’ve seen how someone else is already doing it. It’s not an exact science, but some say you’re a combination of the five people you’re closest to. So while you live ethically, let conversations naturally come up. For example I try to thrift my new clothes and buy sustainably. So when a friend compliments my outfit it leads to talking about alternatives to fast fashion in a natural (and a lot less confrontational) way. Also the number of times I’ve ordered a vegan option and friends have wanted to try some or even order the alternative themselves is so encouraging. So let your actions speak loudly and lead the way with confidence!

Educate

Until I did my own research, I knew next to nothing about things like how animal agriculture and the fast fashion industry impact the environment. Granted there is (thankfully) much more coverage about these issues now. But there’s still a lot of information that’s sugar coated and you have to dig a bit to find out what’s really going on. Most of the time people just need a chance to hear the facts. So firstly educate yourself so you know why you’re bothering to make these changes and then look for opportunities to chat about it. A brilliant way to do this would be starting a Tearfund Together Group. It’s a fab way to get friends together to discuss these issues and how we can make changes together.

Be honest

Friends and family are more open to hearing about ethical choices from you, than someone they haven’t met before. When you’re truly passionate about a cause it shines out of you when you talk about it. One thing I’ve found key is to remind those you’re chatting to that no one’s perfect. I know I’ve been put off by fear of ‘failing’. I’ve got plastic straws without meaning to and forgotten to bring my reusable bag out with me many a time. But you must remind yourself and others that it’s better to try and ‘fail’ sometime than to do nothing.

Be practical

It’s in the everyday little things that you can often make the biggest difference. If you’re going charity shopping, invite a friend that wants to try, but doesn’t know where to look. If you’re buying a birthday gift for your friend or relative, consider getting them a snazzy reusable cup, water bottle or bag. Similarly, if you’ve ever seen a knot wrap before (a fabric alternative to wrapping paper) you could use one to wrap their gift and then it can be reused for someone else. Make use of technology too. For example, text reminders to friends to bring reusable cups with them on a day out. Or share on social media about an app like ‘Good on You’ that rates how ethical clothing brands are.

It really is the little things that make a difference. So get creative, look for opportunities and you may be surprised.