Photo: Good families go green

Have you got what it takes to coach five families to move beyond apathy to action? (Credit: Tovah Paglaro)

I'm into exploring "how to's," from choosing eco-friendly flowers to recycling cell phones. But how to combat apathy? Answer: a good coach.

According to this article, apathy sets in when you forget what you want. Maybe you don't have goals? Or you're working on the wrong ones!

I know a good coach can get me unstuck. Last spring, I trained four amazing, green living coaches to lead five families each in a "How to combat apathy" boot camp. (Okay, we didn't call it that.) The idea was to propel participants out of "What can I do?" mode. And we did it!

Families like the Popes of St. Albert, Randalls of North Vancouver, and the Strobels of Waterloo plowed through eight weeks of gritty tips and no-nonsense advice. The results were amazing:

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  • About half said coaching made a difference, that they learned green living skills, were now able to effect positive change, and got advice to share with family and friends.
  • Three-quarters said they were able to reduce household waste. Many embraced litterless lunches for kids, two families started composting, one now avoids take-out food containers, and another switched from being a "paper towel monster" to reusable cloths and rags.
  • Three-quarters also reduced their exposure to toxics in products. Many now read labels and use the Dirty Dozen shopper's guide. Ten families switched to nontoxic home cleaners.
  • About 70 per cent now make greener food choices. Many planned Meatless Monday's, vegan potlucks, and a few joined Community Supported Agriculture farms and bulk food buying co-ops. One family planted a veggie garden, another put up a bee house and bath, a third started cooking more from scratch, and a fourth started to grow food within public green spaces.
  • About two-thirds went on to promote green living in their communities. A few families hosted green cleaning workshops, a group now gets together regularly for a play date potluck at a local park, and a few attended their first City Council meeting ever! One family joined the environment club at their child's school, another held a block party, and a third organized a garage sale with proceeds going to a charity.
  • Almost all (95 per cent) said they had fun, too!

Congratulations everyone!

Have you got what it takes to coach five families to move beyond apathy to action?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

August 19, 2012

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Sep 24, 2012
8:19 AM

My son who is only 5 years old lives and breaths recycling. He is so passionate on the subject. He has many passions but this is one he loves to talk about all the time. He wants to save the earth one piece of trash at a time. I would love to give my son the gift of knowledge on being more green. Myself and my husband really don't know how to be more green beyond using some products that are more earth friend, using our recycle bins and doing bottles. My son would like a compost in the worst way and we have been planning on doing that for him for awhile. I can only imagine the impact it would have on my son if he was apart of this. It would truly be an magical experience for him and our family.
Many thanks Shell Raham

Sep 13, 2012
4:09 PM

Being a Green Living Coach sounds like an ideal job. I just participated in Zero Waste Week Sept 3-9 and signed The Compact pledging to not buy anything "new" for a year. After a week of producing near-zero waste I realized that changing my habits really wasn't that hard. Once I set up the systems in my home, turning these actions into habits became easy. Its exciting to read so much all over the internet about others who are making similar changes. (I just have to stay away from my local Safeway where EVERYONE uses plastic bags. I end up leaving depressed.)

Sep 13, 2012
10:41 AM

I would love to participate! I'm in Toronto.

Sep 05, 2012
6:57 AM

I started to become more aware of toxins in personal body products a few years ago when I found the "toxic twenty". When I got married last year, I only bought "green" cleaning products and personal products, and as time goes on I am learning more and more, especially from the Queen of Green! I started composting too. It's fun and rewarding!

Sep 05, 2012
6:41 AM

I think that these coaching sessions are brilliant. I believe that apathy is one of the largest factors affecting environmental concerns right now — people are aware that there is a problem but they either don't care or don't know how to make a difference as an individual or individual family. Getting out there, right into these people's homes is the single best way to show them that they can, in fact, make a difference and it's actually quite simple, contrary to popular belief. I have taken on the role of unofficial (and sometimes subliminal) green coach many times and that moment when a person realises that something as simple as air-drying clothes or switching from single-use to reusable materials can actually make an impact is a wonderful thing to see. Knowing that I helped that person to reach that conclusion either through advice or leading by example is a remarkable feeling. Communications/education/public outreach (apathy-fighting!), especially with children, is an area of the environmental industry in which I'm working toward a career. It's something I'm incredibly passionate about and I think is so important for both the planet and for ourselves. The people that get the opportunity to participate in something like this (the Princes and Princesses of Green, perhaps?) are so lucky because they've also been given the opportunity to make a huge and positive difference by being a role model and improving the lives of the people around them — everyday heroes.

Jess — Whitby, ON

Sep 04, 2012
7:07 PM

I do feel the apathy and also the coach in me. I feel I am not doing enough, I feel powerless. And then I hand out a copy of the dirty dozen, encourage people to avoid nasty chemicals and to clean with baking soda and vinegar. It cheers me up:) Please green queen coach me! My compost did not thrive this summer, but I did get lost of great veggies from the farmers market….

Aug 30, 2012
2:51 AM

I would love a chance to be more green. I've always admired many others but get stuck knowing how to make the leap!

Aug 28, 2012
10:51 PM

I'm an ex-pat living in Stockholm, Sweden. What a fantastic, and encouraging way to make greener lives actually happen! Do you do distance coaching?

Aug 28, 2012
10:39 PM

Yes! Green living coaching is a crucial piece of the puzzle towards community sustainability. So glad to see that it is producing results! Kudos to the Queen of Green. I am looking forward to hearing about how to become a green living coach and inspiring others towards accomplishing their green goals.

Aug 28, 2012
7:26 PM

I would L-O-V-E to do this! I already have done this at my work places and would love to do this with neighbors in my building or in the Vancouver area :)

Aug 28, 2012
5:06 PM

I commented above but did not give my name or where I live.

I would love to either be trained as a coach or be a family involved in this wonderful opportunity!

Christy Rollo Richmond BC

Aug 28, 2012
5:00 PM

What a great idea — the green movement is, at it's core, about helping each other help the environment. I would be thrilled to participate in a future training session!!

Aug 28, 2012
4:37 PM

I am an eco coach in Calgary- both with my business, Conscious Home ( and through Green Calgary's (local non-profit) Healthy Homes program I'd be interested in learning more about this opportunity. Thanks for all your good work Lindsay!

Aug 28, 2012
4:34 PM

I forgot to mention that I live in Didsbury, Alberta!

Aug 28, 2012
4:30 PM

Oh. Wow! I love this idea! I already do a lot of these things, leading by example how to reduce waste and be more "green". I try to share with friends

Aug 28, 2012
4:08 PM

My hubby and I would love to know more about your coaching sessions. We live in Iowa! :)

Aug 28, 2012
8:28 AM

Great to hear that people are still interested in making our community a better place! Thanks for the great ideas :) Chantelle Lethbridge, Alberta

Aug 26, 2012
1:24 PM

Would love to help people go greener in Toronto!

Aug 22, 2012
5:54 PM

Great article to keep me on my toes! Looking forward to putting sime of these great ideas to the test. Let the planning begin:)

Aug 22, 2012
12:44 PM

Hi Lindsay

What an exciting opportunity. I would love to help some families in London, ON to strive for a greener lifestyle and make healthier choices. You have certainly helped me along the way. Thanks.

Aug 21, 2012
6:56 PM

As a family we have attempted a backyard veggie garden, we belong to a local CSA (Richmond's Terra Nova Sharing Farm), we use only vinegar

Aug 21, 2012
1:20 PM

My name is Kimiko Foster, and I am very interested in this opportunity. I am from Victoria BC. Thanks

Aug 20, 2012
5:40 PM

What an exciting opportunity! I love to guide people to make greener choices in the small things they do each day. Being able to learn from you and coach others would be amazing.

Aug 20, 2012
4:47 PM

I'm definitely interested… could I get get more details?

Aug 20, 2012
2:28 PM

With a comment here, I'll have your email to contact you with more information. Please add your name and where you live within your comment and I'll be in touch soon! Lindsay

Aug 20, 2012
11:53 AM

This sounds great! I've considered getting into some sort of consulting role to help people with going eco-friendly! I'm already doing workshops at festivals and conferences on making your home plastic-free, and I blog about my homesteading efforts at:

Aug 20, 2012
10:07 AM

Lindsay, this sounds right up my alley! I'd be so interested.

Aug 20, 2012
10:07 AM

I've already started independently, so why not learn from the best and do it better? :o)

Aug 20, 2012
9:48 AM

How does one become a one of them?

Aug 20, 2012
9:37 AM

This sounds like a great opportunity! I live in a fantastic community and know I could coach at least 5 families into making changes!

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