Recently I was directed to an article about how to spread the "green message" -- see the link at the bottom of this page. I have been doing this for years and want you to know it works. Recently, I was in a store and delivered my standard line: "Thanks, but I don't need a bag. It's just more for me to recycle." The clerk went OFF -- talking loud and long to me, other customers and her co-workers about how we definitely have too much waste in the world, we need to save resource, the environment, etc., etc. By the time she (and I) were through, we had gathered a crowd of nodding people. Another time when I delivered that line, I had a customer come back to the counter and say, "Yeah, come to think of it, you can take my bag back, too."
I didn't even realize how much I talk about the environment in passing until one day the owner of the Pack & Mail store I frequent often for my job said, "Well, I KNOW how much you recycle and, quite frankly, you made me feel so guilty that I am much more conscientious about it now because of you." I apologized for the guilt trip, but he assured me my conversation was perfectly fine -- he just felt convicted by my words and vowed to do better as a result. By the way, take any packing peanuts and other packing materials you receive to your local Pack & Mail, UPS store, etc. They will gladly reuse your packing materials -- it saves them money, saves their customers money, and saves the environment.
If you deliver your message with a smile or a bit of humor, I promise it will get across. However, the best lessons are taught by actions, not words. I've blogged before about the fact that when I am on my way to a store, I almost always grab an errant cart and pick up garbage on the way to the store (there are always garbage cans at store entrances). One day, a man who had seen me do this followed me through the store until he got enough courage to approach me. He said I had inspired him to do an unnoticed good deed as well and he'd look for an opportunity to do just that. I had no idea I was being watched and, while I don't pick up litter for the accolades, it does my heart good to know perhaps I'm having a positive influence on people. Maybe they won't pick up litter, but perhaps they'll think twice before they toss something on the ground.
Here's the article which inspired this post: