Should we stop talking about being green?
How the right words can create a connection with nature and a lasting mindset change
A sad disconnection
We have become disconnected from nature. We spend so much time, energy and money creating these perfect boxes around us that distance us from the outside world. Even I spend far too many hours sat in front of my computer when I could be outside enjoying my flexible hours. The pandemic may have changed this for the better, sending people outside to escape from whatever lockdown looked like for them, but those habits don’t seem to have stuck. The rural spots I visit have reverted to their peaceful unvisited states.
We all know that we’re facing a huge climate crisis, and a global mindset change is what’s needed to maintain lasting change. This isn’t going away, after all. I believe that our disconnection from nature is a huge factor in leading us to this crisis, and our reconnection with nature has a strong chance of getting us to where we need to be if we want to survive.
The symbiotic relationship between humans and nature appears to have been lost. If people can’t see how our lives co-exist, messaging that focuses on the effects of climate crisis on the environment are going to have little impact.
Do it your way
Nature connection means different things to different people. It could involve:
a walk or treasure hunt with the family in the woods
forest therapy or meditation in the woods
a power walk or run outside
cold water swimming
walking the dog
a lunchtime stroll with your favourite tunes or podcast playing in your ears
gardening or tending to your houseplants
Increasing our connection with nature is, I believe, one of the fundamentals for a lasting mindset change that will contribute to us living lives with a lower environmental impact. It shouldn’t matter how people reach that connection; it just matters that they do it in a way that feels good to them.
Foraging for connection
I’m rather partial to a spot of forest bathing (my pal Sonya from Adore Your Outdoors is an excellent forest therapy guide!), and I love to sit and watch the birds in my garden. I also love a project and food, so foraging is one of my favourite ways to enjoy spending time in nature. I’m very mindful of where and how much I forage, so that the natural balance isn’t affected. It’s so important that humans learn that enough is plenty (human greed is another massive contributor to the climate crisis).
My plans for this weekend involve collecting some wild garlic – for pesto, curries and garlic butter – and nettles for ‘crisps’. I do love it when spring comes around – there’s so much to eat!
People-friendly rather than planet-friendly
I recently had a fantastic conversation with Caroline Aistrop of Green Spark Marketing about the psychology behind sustainability messaging and how to create an impact for different people. She talked about four groups of sustainability consumers:
the advocates, who are already well into their green journeys
the aspirationals, who want to be greener but aren’t sure where to start
the practicals, who are not averse to greener options as long as they’re cheaper
the indifferents, for whom a greener lifestyle is way down on their agenda
This got me thinking about not just the way people market their businesses but also how we talk to people about nature connection and the climate crisis. People will have different starting points and different priorities.
One of the key marketing tools we’re advised to use as business owners is to highlight the benefits to the consumer, so if we’re talking about getting people out into nature again we need to talk to these benefits. (For tips on other ways to make your content stand out, read this blog.)
Do you use nature to unwind, play, get fit, have time to yourself or make money? Talking to people about the impact of unsustainable palm oil production in south Asia or the impact of deforestation on wildlife isn’t going to resonate with everyone. But putting a human value on these things might resonate better with some people.
Perhaps we need to stop talking about being green and start highlighting the human benefits of changing our habits. If people can understand the connection between nature and humans, they’re more likely to want to protect it and therefore protect themselves.
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