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  • Writer's pictureBarb Bickford

Appreciative Questions for Earth Day

Updated: May 2

A glass water goblet, half full of water, on a green tablecloth.
Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

I'm a "glass half-full" type of thinker, so I love appreciative questions.

What's to appreciate about appreciative questions? Lots!

Appreciative questions focus our attention on what is going well. They are worded positively and invite us to consider what we can do to have positive outcomes. The set our brains in motion for actually taking positive steps.

Most appreciative questions begin with the words "what" or "how". We can't answer them with a simple "yes" or "no". Rather, we share more, drawing from our own experience.

If we didn't ask these types of questions, we might not otherwise even notice good things that are going on all around us, every day, such as the sun shining through the water in the glass. Or what's happening in the environment, for example.

These days, it is tempting to look at what is going wrong, such as how global ice is melting, weather is increasingly unpredictable and more extreme, water quality and quantity are hot issues in many locations, animal and plant species are under stress and some are going extinct, never to return (except maybe for the woolly mammoth).

But what if we asked "what's going right?" How might we prepare to celebrate on Earth Day (April 22nd each year)?

I asked a bunch of bright facilitators to think of appreciative questions about saving resources, as a way of getting ready for Earth Day.

Here are their MANY appreciative questions:

-- In what ways might you use, conserve and/or share resources?

-- What is something you can do as a group that you don't as an individual?

-- What is one way you conserve resources?

-- Why is conversation important to you?

-- How have you found commonality with others in your efforts to conserve?

-- What are you already doing well to conserve (or share) resources?

-- What are some ways you use resources differently than in the past?

-- In what ways are the resources you have valuable to your organization?

-- How can we reduce what we spend annually on disposables such as paper plates, cups, and napkins?

-- How can we share our sanctuary space with other groups during the week to share heating costs, and not fluctuate heat as much?

-- How do you currently conserve resources?

-- In what ways do we reduce, reuse, recycle?

-- What do you do to recycle things with your family?

-- In what ways do we care about saving resources?

-- How do you supplement resources when you’re low?

-- How can we upcycle products into a new generation of use?

-- What can we do to maintain our energy and continue to grow?

-- How might you be able to stretch those resources further, so that your rate of consumption slows down?

-- What ways does your school recycle?

-- How is your school contributing to ensuring a decline in climate change?

-- What is your school doing to reduce waste?

-- What would need to be done differently?

-- When it comes to sustainability, what do you most deeply care about?

-- What practices do you observe in your neighbours when it comes to conservation? -- --- What impact would we most want to have?

-- If what I wanted happened, how would I know?

-- If we had to cut resources by 25% by tomorrow, what would we do?

-- What would it take to begin composting?

-- What 3 things can we do or have done that help us conserve energy?

-- What are you most proud of?

-- What partnerships could we enter to share more?

-- How do we measure consumption?

-- Which of our assets are most likely underutilized?

-- What 2 ways are we most likely wasting resources, or noticing ways that we could conserve more?

-- In what ways has your organization shared some of its most valuable resources?

-- What differences have you noticed in your resource use?

-- How does conserving resources make you feel?

-- What do you notice when you share resources?

-- What are we currently doing well with regard to using existing resources?

-- Who can help you increase your resource goals?

-- What is a success you’ve had in conserving resources?

-- What are some ideas to increase your conservation?

-- What are the local resources for helping you conserve resources?

-- What are we doing with the plastic bottles from the bottled water?

-- What’s in it for us in saving resources?

-- What can we do to save energy instead of heating the whole house?

-- How much is spent on things that go to waste?

-- How will you reduce the number of trash bags you discard each week?

-- What could we share with others in our community?

-- How could we recycle more actively, other than throwing in the recycle bin?

-- What makes it difficult to reduce your waste?

-- Who do you know who does a stellar job of conserving resources?

-- What is one small step you can take?

I'm appreciating how thoughtful these questions are!

Please consider picking just one of these questions to ponder today. Ask your question with your family or coworkers. Does asking the question raise your awareness of what is going well? What one small step does this inspire you to do? Please share in the comments below!

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