I could be mistaken for being a little bit odd...
It is difficult to explain morally driven lifestyle choices to other people without them feeling like you are judging them. This is a problem I have come up against many times since starting to make personal lifestyle changes in response to increasing knowledge of environmental issues.
The reality is that I am not judging anyone. The ethos of transition, as I understand it, is that we work together and don't judge the choices that others make, as long as when they are aware of the facts they try their best. After all you can never know or understand the reasoning behind peoples decisions, because you are not in their position. And there is no 'right' low carbon lifestyle, it is all experimental and everyone needs to find the path that suits them.
I think it mostly come down to misunderstandings. It is hard not to feel judged yourself when people ask you why you do something a bit differently, such as not using shampoo or conditioner and travelling long distance journeys by bike. As the implication of the question could be interpreted as - you are a bit 'weird'. Although that probably isn't what was meant. Then your explanation inevitably involves talk of 'what I think is right'. This immediately puts peoples backs up, as they interpret it as 'what they are doing is wrong'. Now focussing on your decisions and personal choices rather than making general statements can help, but doesn't completely avoid the problem.
The unfortunate consequence of this is that people then start getting defensive, which makes you feel like you are under attack and so begins a negative cycle.
This effect doesn't exactly encourage other people to follow your lead. Guilt and hurt feelings are not what we need. The only solution I have found so far is to explicitly tell people that you are not judging them, but this is only possible with certain people and in certain situations.
If anyone has any advice on this inherent problem then please do leave a comment and share it with everyone.
Photo: keeping the midges out and the warmth in on my cycle tour last summer (Ruth Clark)