Eco Family

October 24 theme

The small world of the Eco Family

Our first stop on our discovery of the Eco sapiens is the Eco Family. The term doesn’t solely apply to families made up only of Eco sapiens. As soon as there is one Eco sapiens in a household, it’s likely that they influence the other members. This dynamic brings about change and helps transition to a different lifestyle. It’s also what defines the eco family. Let’s try to better understand the evolution of this dynamic and identify things that can curb or speed up this transition that affects every family member in unique and different ways. Today, let’s ask the following questions:

  • How should we address environmental issues as a family?

  • Would some family members see a sustainable lifestyle as a threat to stability (familiar vs. unfamiliar)? How can that be avoided?

  • What responsibility do we have to our children? What world do we want to leave them?

  • Does educating our children prepare them for the upcoming environmental and social crises?

  • What values should be at the heart of education in schools?

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Influence, don’t force

An Eco sapiens’ influence can be received in various ways by the other family members. Some will be interested and curious, others will resist or even reject any attempts to change. Consequently, there could be friction within families, and the Eco sapiens will bear the burden of appeasing the others if they want to maintain integrity within the family unit. The Eco sapiens could be more successful if they moderate and space out their efforts instead of imposing their values and convictions too quickly. But finding that balance can be difficult! It could also become a source of continual frustrations for the Eco sapiens who doesn’t feel heard or understood.

Ecological transition is personal to each family member and usually takes place at different paces, which can create conflicts. Vegetarianism might be the most obvious example. For many people, eating meat (killing an animal to feed oneself) can be unbearable. The moment this person tells their family that they refuse to encourage this practice and would like their choice to be respected can be difficult for both sides. This choice can be seen as a deliberate distancing from the habits and customs of the family and as a threat to group cohesion. That’s why it’s important to ease into it and respect everyone’s choices, points of view and convictions. Without preventing debates or dialogue, this attitude could bring about more open-mindedness in discussions on the topic.

For example, the person who refuses to eat meat must accept that the other family members have the right to continue with their habits. They must also understand that the other members might feel judged when they eat meat in front of them, provoking defense mechanisms that could be violent.

On their end, the other family members must also accept that this person might eat a different meal and that they shouldn’t take it personally.

Different topics might bring about the same scenario: trips and vacations, buying a car or motorized recreational vehicles, overconsumption, Christmas gifts, etc.

How to avoid confrontation and inspire change?

Be respectful and patient and choose the right moment! Contrary to popular belief, family dinners are not always the best time and place to discuss ecological transition. Oftentimes, it’s better to have one-on-one conversations or to choose an opportune moment. Criticizing a brother’s choices during family dinner or a roommate’s during a party could cause tensions and make them defensive. If people aren’t well-versed on a subject, they might feel cornered or under attack. They’ll be more likely to be uncompromising and assert their point of view loud and clear. One-on-one, they could be much more open-minded! Choosing the right moment could make all the difference.

Why not start in a fun way by suggesting games or challenges like the ones in the QWRW’s Projet Z app?

Taking this approach might help the other person to make up their own mind, at their own pace, about ecological transition and the reasons why it’s necessary and inevitable. Everyone deserves the chance to find their own reasons in accordance with their values before deciding to take action and consume differently (we’re not a flock of sheep!).

If, as an Eco sapiens, you wish to convince your peers to act in a more environmentally friendly way, start little by little, and when they’re ready, start making special requests or challenging them! Use the Code Z. For example:

  • “Would you like to give each other a different type of Christmas gift? What about offering an experience or something more enduring? I’d appreciate it if you gave my child the memory of spending time with you; it’s something they’ll never forget”;

  • « For Christmas, I’d like you to try one of my favourite vegetarian appetizers or meals! I’d like to surprise you!”;

  • “This summer, let’s try to offset all the greenhouse gases caused by our trips and invite our friends to do the same” (if we’re going to share our vacation, let’s share sustainable habits for the environment as well).

Passively raising awareness: a sound solution for everyone!

Trying to raise other family members’ awareness about environmental and social issues in an active way can be exhausting and confrontational. Sometimes, it might be wise to stop this direct approach and try raising their awareness in a passive way. By fully experiencing their ecological transition outside the family, the Eco sapiens can reduce their frustrations and prosper more easily and quickly. Their transition will be emancipatory and gratifying and will give a positive image of change to their family, making it easier for them to accept that change.

The image we’re presenting to our children

Change is difficult for all of us. Whether we like it or not, our children will have to live in a world very different from ours. This world will be forged by our ability or inability to change:

  • By choosing to maintain our current lifestyle, we’re condemning our children to a future where they’ll have to adapt to climate change. But our children, depending on what they learn at school or from others, will sometimes be able to tell us the changes they deem beneficial for their future. It’s also our duty to listen to their expectations;

  • By adopting a more moderate way of life and society, we’re making the choice to bring about change and to guide our children so they can prosper in a more sustainable future.

As hard as it may be, it’s our responsibility to accustom our children to a more moderate lifestyle. We must also accept to be influenced by them in adopting more eco-friendly habits. Questioning our consumption, vacation and transportation choices is at the root of this progress. We must also continually reassess our relationship with our community and with work because being an Eco sapiens also means evolving together.

There’s no denying that all of this can be difficult, and even overwhelming. Let’s see it as an opportunity to reconsider our lifestyle and evolve toward something different. Let’s also involve our children in our questioning and our changes.

Teaching younger generations

The public and private education of our children is driven by our societal values; we educate children to make them good workers and make our economy prosper. But does this type of education respond to the reality our children will have to face?

To conserve our planet’s resources, it seems that future generations will have to live in a more environmentally sustainable way. Their relationship with consumption, money and work could be very different from ours. It’s therefore essential to adjust how we teach our children not only to prepare them for these new paradigms, but also to help them make this socio-ecological transition their own and perpetuate it. Let’s help our children so THEY can help us change!

We need to encourage our children toward careers that further the ecological transition (research, renewable energy resources development and technologies, sustainable urban planning, sustainable agriculture, etc.). The ecological transition is a societal project, and it requires cooperation, empathy, equity, fairness and kindness—values we need to pass on to our children. These values could help them welcome change, better accept it, give up particular luxuries or personal comforts to prioritize collective well-being, without ever compromising their happiness!

Some teachers, starting in elementary schools, are already integrating environmental and sustainable consumption awareness activities in their curriculum! Having the support of parents and extended families in this process could have a significant positive impact on the results. For example, many classes receive training on environmental issues offered by Carbone Scol’ERE. Furthermore, as part of the Quebec Waste Reduction Week, dozens of classes have participated in our Sur les traces de l’Éco sapiens contest, whose goal was to get students to think about what protecting the environment means to them. We invite you to visit the gallery of these works created by young Quebeckers and discuss the topic with your children. Ask them about how they see themselves and their role in a world where the threat of climate change is becoming more and more concrete and visible. Their answers could be your best argument to start transitioning toward an Eco sapiens lifestyle!

Transition as opportunity

Change is scary. It’s even more distressing when we’re having trouble clearly understanding the reasonable motives behind it. It’s quite difficult to give up something we think is good!

Yet transitioning means evolving toward another state of things. Each revision of our habits gives us the opportunity to correct multiple aspects of our current way of life. Our fast-paced and hectic lifestyle focused on work and productivity might not be the best way to measure our achievements anymore. We’re all aware that this pressure exhausts us and distances us from our true nature, our physical and psychological well-being, as well as our desire to simply be happy. It might not be the case for everyone, but it is the reality of many.

Transitioning toward a lifestyle less focused on consumption might be an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves as well as with all human beings and our environment. In our new and improved version of ourselves, let’s agree to be agents of change within our families and advocate for the well-being of everyone and everything.