I’ll give you five dollars* if you can think of a male eco lifestyle blogger or eco fashion influencer within 10 seconds. Go.
Oh, what’s that? Did you fail? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. I’m still thinking of who else I can put on the list and it’s been hours.
Men are scarce in the online eco living space, but that’s definitely not a reflection of what’s happening out there in the real world. Jen’s man Ben (Jen is the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess) has turned his construction site into a reusable coffee cup party; yesterday my brother knocked on my door to steal a bamboo toothbrush, and today I watched a very serious businessman walk out of Countdown supermarket with a cotton carry bag slung over his arm.
Though it appears the eco-blogger space is flooded with menstrual cup users and shots of beautifully clad women in stylish eco fashion, men are making change in this space too.
Especially my husband, Tim.
Now Tim’s not your everyday husband. He’s much better, and I’m not just being biased. Tim is as committed to eco-living as me yet no one hears about it. You’ll find him rummaging through my craft cupboard to make me wooden earrings from twigs off the rose tree on our property, fixing holes in his own clothes, and yelling ‘NO STRAW PLEASE’ over loud pub crowds.
I’m not here to make enemies, I’m just here to not have a plastic straw.”- Tim Hall, in the kitchen whilst making me zero-waste curry.
If you don’t think men can change the world, or you’re a dude who’s hesitant around how to do it without sounding like a weirdo, then here’s a story that might serve as encouragement:
For weeks and weeks, Tim watched his colleague walk past his desk with a coffee in a disposable takeaway cup (he would get it from the coffee machine in the kitchen at work). So one day, Tim decided to test the waters…
Tim was sitting by the kitchen watching this colleague make his routine morning coffee. As he got up to leave, Tim said, “Hey ‘Joe’ (changed for privacy reasons obviously), I challenge you (big pause for effect)… to use a reusable cup next time you get a coffee.”
Joe’s initial response was to push back; providing Tim with excuses ranging from “it would be annoying to carry around” and my personal favourite “the world is going to end anyway, what’s one cup going to do”. Unfazed, Tim repeated the challenge, threw around a few playful comments, and walked away.
A few days later, Tim’s colleague plopped a Star Wars KeepCup down on his desk. Turns out, he hadn’t used a coffee cup in days. His son now had one too. That same colleague now has a metal drink bottle permanently hanging on his bag’s carabiner and he’s now heading up workplace sustainability projects. I know this wasn’t all down to Tim’s challenge, but I’m certain that it helped.
I’m sure if I dragged the stories out of Tim, there’d be plenty more.
That situation worked because eco-living challenges and idea swaps can be fun. Guys who love Star Wars LOVE Star Wars cups. It’s simply about showing them that eco-living can be easy, that they have allies and aren’t alone in their ‘greenness’ and most importantly, giving them a pat on the back when they score an ‘eco’ win.
I don’t want to be the friend that nags. I’ll cease the moment when it’s appropriate.”
So here are Tim’s top tips for influencing your mates:
- Be playful with it—don’t take it so seriously
- Men are generally very competitive—use that to your advantage
- Take your time—it’s not a race, patience is key
- Learn when to speak, and when to listen (being a silent presence can sometimes make the biggest change)
- Kindly remind—you don’t want to be ‘that guy’
- Make fun of yourself, humour works wonders
Along with changing the habits of colleagues, Tim makes a habit of explaining WHY he refuses items from shop keepers and bar tenders. He tells me, “So, my line is: save the planet, one bag or straw at a time. But Kate, it’s all in the delivery. I smile, or even laugh with them, depending on their response.”
Tim has mastered the way he can make the biggest impact. Rather than simply refusing plastic disposables, he engages in conversation or sparks off ideas may unsuspectingly grow.
So, fellas, if you want to influence your ‘mates’, ‘bros’, ‘buddies’ or ‘buds’ (or whatever you call your friends) you don’t have to start an eco-blog and begin publishing articles about your personal eco-friendly lifestyle. You don’t have to start an Instagram account and begin posting selfies with your reusable vegetable bags. Nor do you have to explain to your family or friends they’re sinners for using plastic bags or make them feel bad for dropping by with a takeaway coffee in a single-use disposable cup. You can start with the words, “Hey dude, I challenge you…” It’s that simple.
(*I won’t really give you five dollars, I just wrote it in for effect!)
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Title image credit: Outerknown