How To Talk To Strangers About Environmental Issues

Talking about environmental issues can sometimes feel like walking through a landmine, particularly when it’s with strangers. The potential to offend, provoke or polarise lurks behind every sentence.

Yet despite this, something powerful happened at our April event, Catalysing Conversations for World Earth Day

We removed the labels people give to themselves and others.

“I’m a liberal” | “I’m a vegetarian” | “I’m a banker”

In fact the only label we asked people to reveal was their name, which they put on a sticky label.

After that, we prevented identity-revealing probes like “so what do you do?” from entering the conversation by leading attendees through a Conversation Menu packed with curious questions to consider together (sneak peak below).

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And it was by this simple act of removing the labels we too often use to symbolise our identity and values that we were able to powerfully change the nature of the conversation, despite the sensitive topic.

How? Because being label-less gives you permission to explore your thoughts without being held to account.

No longer are you expected to conform to one rigid perspective or police yourself to speak as a particular dogma. Instead you are free to play with new ideas, dream or doubt and ultimately widen your understanding of the world.

Our challenge to you

Society today can feel polarised by creed and politics and for many this experience of talking to strangers about challenging topics like environmental issues is very new.

But we need more conversations like this ✊

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The world *needs us* to approach our fellow humans more often with fresh eyes.

Which is why we challenge you today to meet strangers with curiosity, not judgement and to question to understand, not rebuke.

🔥 Do you think you can do it?

(We’ve shared below some of the questions on the Conversation Menu. Feel free to use them as conversation triggers!)

What was on the Conversation Menu

We’ve shared some of the questions from the event because not knowing what to say is often the biggest hindrance to starting conversations around important, but challenging topics.

When using these questions, it’s important to remember that the best conversations…

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Question to learn

Listen to understand

Play to remember you’re free

Laugh to feel good

And lastly, are just curious.

We hope these questions catalyse change with your friends, family, organisation, school or even with strangers.


Catalysing Conversations for World Earth Day

Canapes

- Light Tummy Ticklers -

What ecosystems are you part of? What impact do you have in them?

Starter

- Getting Heavier -

What features of our working lives disconnect us from the natural world?

Main Course

Meat

- Deep & Thoughtful -

To what extent do we need to rebuild our social fabric first before we can successfully tackle environmental issues?

Fish

- Controversial -

What privileges would you be prepared to sacrifice in order to save the planet?

Vegetarian

- Nourishing -

What might we learn from ancient wisdom and indigenous traditions to help urban dwellers connect more deeply with and care for the environment?

Dessert

- Sweet & Delightful -

Which sustainable values, behaviours and qualities do you want to see in your community?

Cheese

- Playful -

Name 1 sustainable goal you’d like to work towards. Offer advice and resources to help one another achieve them.

Coffee

- Reflective & Stimulating -

What one action will you commit to today?