Tailoring Conversations to Communities

How you approach conversations about sustainability and social responsibility will differ greatly depending on the community you live in. If you live in a community where most people are very supportive of sustainability initiatives, you can likely use the jargon used by the sustainability community without a problem. However, if you live in a more business-oriented community, you may need to change the words you use in order to have productive conversations.

I’ve found that in Utah, many people don’t usually want to listen to you once you start using words like “sustainability”, “climate change”, or “social impact”. But they will talk to you about air pollution, stewardship, and good business. You may not be able to talk about oceans rising, but talk about how bad the air is in the Salt Lake Valley and everyone will agree with you.

The point is that you have to start with issues that people have experienced because they’re close to home. Once you get people talking about fixing the pollution here in Utah so that their kids can go outside to play, you might be able to talk about how the Maldives are on course to be submerged under the ocean in about 100 years and how those people will be losing their home. You might be able to talk about social responsibility by talking about loving your neighbor and being a good steward over the resources and people in your care. You might get a better response by talking about the long term financial benefits of green practices, rather than strictly the environmental benefits.

You know your community best. Use that knowledge to your advantage when determining how to approach these conversations about social and environmental responsibility.


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