Here’s an old post I finished on Amplify ages ago, but never put up on here!
If you had come up to me a week ago, yesterday even, and asked me if I was an environmentalist, I would have said no. (I wrote this sentence in September, but you get the idea.) I have friends who are Environmentalists-with-a-capital-E; they won’t drink out of water bottles because of the waste involved in producing them, they avoid makeup and chemical cleaners and a million other products that I never would have assumed did something to hurt the environment, they harness solar energy in their daily lives, they compost…. I don’t do these things, nor do I have the time and thus, I am not an environmentalist. Make that was, I was not an environmentalist.
I’ve always had my causes. In middle school it was anti-bullying – I wrote poems and stuck up for the kids in my class who were teased, I went “in the trenches,” so to speak, daily in order to fight for a more compassionate school environment. In high school I cared about education and literacy, I tutored a great deal in my school and my community. I also cared about poverty, and ending violence, and gay rights… every day, it sometimes seemed, brought a new cause.
Last year I came to college and I found feminism, a catch-all movement that seemed designed to expand and expand to hold all of the causes I cared so deeply about – gay rights, poverty, pacifism, racism, body acceptance… feminists seem to be tackling all of this, I’ve done my best to take on all of these causes, at least in passing, in my blogging over the last year and yet… environmentalism never seemed to make it onto that list.
Today I read eight pages that changed my life, and my feminism, forever. Pages five to thirteen of The Future of Nature highlight the problems with today’s “green” movement – namely, the separation of environmental issues from human rights issues – and the mindset necessary to promote positive change that just might save our planet (from pollution, deforestation, and the other injustices we inflict upon our earth) and the people that inhabit it – many of whom don’t even have clean water right now, thanks to the degradation we’ve put our planet through.
It’s the big farming conglomerates that drive the small scale farmers out of business, and into poverty. They pollute the air and treat their animals without any dignity or compassion, because there is no competition. They blast pesticides into the air and hormones into our meat, until not even the milk from our own human mothers is uncontaminated*.
It’s the privileged few countries – like the United States and Canada – that suck up much more than our fair share of the earth’s resources, leaving fellow human beings in developing countries without even the basic food and water they need to survive day-to-day.
That bottle of water I drank this morning is part of the reason why a girl just like me, living in Africa or Fiji or India does not have access to clean water of her own. That bottle is also a part of the reason that polar bears are drowning because they have to swim farther and farther to find solid ice to rest on – producing my bottle produced carbon emissions that thickened the ozone layer, trapping more heat in our earth and melting more of that bear’s ice…. It’s all connected.
Feminism and, more broadly, human rights activism can include environmentalism, it has to, because the way we treat our earth is so intimately entwined with the way we treat each-other. I’m a feminist because all oppressions are linked, and feminism is my way of fighting all of those oppressions at once – I’m an environmentalist because the oppression of humanity and the oppression of nature are linked, and I can no longer struggle to fight one, without advocating for the other as well.
If you were like me, content to leave the environment to someone else, I challenge you today: do some research – I reccomend reading the book I mentioned or watching the film an Inconvienient Truth – force yourself out of the blissful state of ignorance, into the scray reality of our quickly worsening environment so that you will no longer be able to do nothing.