If you want to help the environment, try not being a jerk to your friends


We’ve heard all the complaints: We green-minded people are annoying. We’re self-righteous. We nag. We judge. And we don’t always practice what we preach.

But — not to sound like a broken record — there are some serious, civilization-threatening problems that we’re trying to tackle here. So what’s the best way to get other people on board with acting sustainably? Via Pacific Standard, here is a research-backed tip: Act nicely, and don’t make people feel like hypocrites.

In this study, researchers hung out in a supermarket and approached shoppers in one of three ways: letting them be; asking them to sign a poster that said “Stop using plastic bags. If I can do it, so can you”; or asking them to sign the poster and then “remember past transgressions” — i.e. not-so-green choices. The researchers called this last bit the “hypocrisy condition.”

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