Environmental Activism: A Review of NYFLC’s Panel

If you follow ShoutOut!’s twitter, you may have noticed that this weekend some of us got the opportunity to go to the 13th annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference and were live tweeting from some of the panels and caucuses that were taking place. It was a really great weekend filled with a lot of great education on feminist activism and what each of us can do to take part, so if you get the chance, you should go!

My favorite panel was titled Organize the Earth: Tips from Environmental Activists. It featured four young activists who shared ways that people can get their communities involved, starting from a very young age. It came from a perspective of ecofeminism, my personal favorite brand of feminism, and there was one presenter there who made a good point that I think a lot of us tend to forget.

Just in the same way that we are all in different places in our feminism, and we shouldn’t judge others for being at the beginning of their feminist education, we also shouldn’t judge people’s environmentalism. Everyone comes at feminism in a different way and at a different stage in their life, so we need to allow others the time that we also receive. In terms of environmentalism, we shouldn’t judge what actions others are or aren’t taking. One of the panelists gave the example that we shouldn’t burn someone at the stake for not recycling, because we don’t know how accessible recycling is for them. They also may only ever bike and walk on a regular basis, so they have a very small carbon footprint, while we may recycle, but drive everywhere, or fly often. Some things just aren’t feasible for everyone, but what matters is doing what you can.

One idea for doing what you can is making environmental activism a part of all your conversations. Ecofeminism is ultimate when it comes to intersectional feminism, because it affects everything and everyone. Having a discussion about agriculture? Agriculture and livestock is a big provider of pollution, so if we’re already talking about eating meat in a sustainable way, let’s add environmental sustainability into the equation. Talking about healthcare? The environment affects our health, and pollutants affect a disproportionate amount of women and people of color. For example, heading into the Rio Olympics people were up in arms about Olympians getting sick because of the pollution in the water that was being used for the games, but the people that it’s affecting most, and the people who it will affect long-term, are the residents of Rio. Typically in situations like this (Flint), it is also the neighborhoods with high populations of people of color that are affected the most, because those in charge make sure that it stays out of majority white neighborhoods (aka environmental racism). Cough cough, Dakota Access Pipeline, cough.

Moral of the story, we need to recognize where we can each do something for the environment, and do it, while also recognizing that no one person can do everything. As Emma Watson said “Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with,” and it goes for pretty much every form of activism.

Featured Image Credit: Robbie Sproule on Flickr, CC

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