Many people are well aware of the environmental challenges that we face as a species, and how our human actions impact our planet as a whole. But we often find it difficult to adopt new behaviours, even when we know those behaviours will reduce our ecological footprint. There are lots of reasons for this including a lack of time, money, information and supportive social norms.
The truth is that environmentally friendly behaviours are not one size fits all solution. For example, some individuals may bike everywhere which is a more sustainable alternative to driving. But this simply may not be an option for lots of people. Maybe they have health problems that prohibit them riding a bike up steep hills. Or dislike getting sweaty and having to shower and change clothes when they get to work. Maybe work is too far away or the roads are too busy and dangerous. There are many reasons why some people can’t or don’t ride. But maybe those people are able to make equally important sustainability efforts in other areas of their life, for example by growing most of their own vegetables or by going plastic-free or zero-waste. We have to find forms of sustainability that work for us, because the best sustainable action is the one we actually do.
There are ways to overcome our reluctance to change, one of which is to try out new behaviours in a positive and supportive place. It’s even better to try out new behaviours together with other people. Our family and friends have an incredible amount of influence over what we do. We are social beings, and for the most part we want to fit in and be accepted by our community. If the community around us has sustainable behaviours as part of their everyday actions, we are more likely to join in.
That’s why we have created the Our Seas Our Future Monthly Sustainability Challenge, Sustainable Me.
What is the OSOF Sustainable Me Challenge?
Every month, you will be challenged to adopt a new environmentally-friendly behaviour that in some way impacts ocean health. Give that behaviour a go for one month and see if you like it. If it’s something you can adopt as part of your regular routine, that’s great. If it’s a behavior that doesn’t work for you, that’s okay too.
After 12 months and 12 activities, you may have a few new actions to add to your sustainability portfolio. If possible, rope a couple of friends or family members into participating with you. The more support you have, the more likely you are to keep up with the behaviours for a full month – enough time to decide whether or not it’s something you can adopt long term.
If you’re already an eco-warrior, great! Each month’s activity will have two levels – one for beginners and one for people ready to step it up a notch. And if the advanced level isn’t enough, feel free to adapt the challenge to work for you and tell us what you did.
Share a photo on social media of yourself taking part in that month’s challenge, and include the hashtag #OSOFSustainableMe and #OurSeasOurFuture.
If you want to read more about environmental behavior change, there is a wonderful book that is free to download called Psychology for a Better World: Strategies to Inspire Sustainability, by Prof Niki Harre, University of Auckland.