Inequality of environmentalism: is green movement exclusionary by nature?

When it feels like the doors shutting on your face because you cant afford organic food, its a hard sell to want to identify with a movement

A photo made the rounds recently, instigating the ire of the internet in the way only a simple photo can. It proved pre-peeled oranges neatly packaged in clear plastic boxes, sitting on a shelf at a Whole Foods store.

Ill admit I joined in on the mock, too. I glanced at the picture when it popped up on my feed and I recollect rolling my eyes. I recollect being momentarily disheartened by our laziness. And typically, this would have been the fullest extent of my interaction a brief two-second downvote for humanity.

Later on in the working day, however, I came across a comment about the photo, interred pages deep. It spoke about how, for disabled people, those suffering from arthritis, or those who dont have full utilize of their hands, peeling oranges is totally out of the question. Suddenly, the plastic packaging took on a much different slant.

Whole Foods aimed up apologize, the oranges disappeared, and the world moved on. But I kept thinking about what it takes to belong to the environmental motion.

Nathalie Gordon (@ awlilnatty) March 3, 2016

If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to trash so much plastic on them. 00 YECaHB4D

Green-minded people can be incredibly judgmental. People active in the community often have their worth and merit judged by the number of faddish initiatives they have taken on or ignored( 100 -mile diet, zero-impact, zero-waste ), the number of solar panels theyve installed, or the kilometers theyve cycled.

But what happens when disability or drawback render many of the basics of an eco-friendly life inaccessible, or even impossible? Is the environmental movement exclusionary by nature?

The unofficial face of trendy environmentalism is a smiling white girl meandering through a sunny farmers marketplace, leafy greens popping up through her reusable shopping bags. Its a shallow representation of a diverse motion, and one that dismisses the faceted contributions and challenges experienced by those outside this narrow representation.

These challenges include disability, but they also extend to geography and, perhaps most importantly, socio-economic status( image person are seeking to locate one of those sunny farmers markets in a food desert ).

On one hand, some measure of economic drawback seems to help eco-friendly causes, at the least in the abstract. The worlds richest 10% are responsible for fully 50% of carbon emissions, and the poor are disproportionately likely to use public transportation and avoid driving and long-haul flights. But this isnt so much selection as it is circumstance, and when it is like the doors shutting on your face because you cant afford organic food, its a hard sell to want to identify with a movement.

In a piece examining the role of minorities in environmentalism, writer Ann-Marie Alcantara, herself a millennial Latina, states that environmentalism is once again in danger of becoming irrelevant if membership to its ranks remains intentionally or otherwise exclusive. Environmentalism cant afford to omit, police, and grant participation to the handful of individuals able to live the perfect green life.

When eco-friendly concerns become fractured and some fight for access to healthy food while others protest a vital access to clean water, its hard to identify a clear-cut solution. As a result, the answers that do emerge tend to pander to the group with the louder voice. We ensure the needs of minorities, disabled persons and the poor consistently dismissed in favour of trendier issues( such as energy-generating spin studios ).

Meanwhile, as a piece on Grist reminds us, the most difficult consequences of environmental degradation are visited on the homes, workplaces, households, and bodies of the poor.

An eco-friendly life shouldnt has become a luxury afforded only to those with lots of hour, lots of fund, or both. Its also naive to think that environmental problems such as pollution, water shortages and global warming will affect us equally, and expecting equal participation in the form of a one-size-fits-all prescription for the perfect green life is just as ignorant.

Theres a flip side to environmentalism that doesnt get nearly as much media play. This bit isnt about sold-out Tesla vehicles or solar panels, but decidedly unglamorous , not Instagram-worthy tasks such as washing out compost pails and owning clothing until it wears out. It supports a revolutionary course of action summed up last week by a Guardian commenter: its about doing what is right any time you have any choice at all.

It acknowledges the limitations and systemic roadblocks in the way of making eco- friendly change. Perhaps, then, it also allows for pre-peeled oranges.

Read more:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *