The New Environmentalism Is About Issues in Addition to Eco-Tips
We're heartened to see a shift in environmental focus taking root around the past Earth Day. This Enviro New Wave is committed to supplementing eco-tips and individual action by tackling the issues facing life on Earth through a whole-systems approach. This includes nurturing local action as well as doggedly advocating for large-scale political shifts in policy.Colleague Ben Jervey, admittedly a bit sour, writes on his blog and The Huffington Post that "Earth Day is All Wrong" and symptomatic of our eco-tip addiction:
How we, as environmentalists, keep willingly pushing this singular day as some sort of blessed holiday -- this random day in April, all-too-easily forgotten by May -- to celebrate all the "solutions" (organic t-shirts! "Ten Ways to Green Your Life" lists! biodegradable forks!) that won't get us anywhere close to where we need to be to truly deal with the ecological crises at hand. Crises that the Earth will easily, given a few thousand years, rebound from, but we, as a species, may well not.
Jervey however says that he was awfully encouraged to read John Javna also writing in The Huffington Post that The New Environmentalism Is Issues, Not Eco-Tips. Javna, who co-authored one of the original eco-tips books 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Planet originally published in 1989 (free PDF download of the entire book here), now has a brand new edition as well as a sparkling new web site with an online community. The idea is to go further than simple individual effort, to harness the power of cooperation and community working to change not only individual personal habits, but also to change society’s laws, business practices, and values. The goal being to develop a sustained, committed effort to solve specific problems, rather than simply encouraging random environmental action.
Additionally, our dauntless colleague Simran Sethi has a new joint over at Sundance Channel: THE GOOD FIGHT, a web series that looks at the places where environmentalism is a necessity, not a luxury. Says Sethi:
I created this series, with the help of many inspiring people, because I am impatient and hopeful. Impatient that we have to get beyond changing light bulbs and carrying reusable bags to effect systemic change. Hopeful, because I know we can get there. Please don’t get me wrong—making small, meaningful changes in your own life is very important. But we can’t shop our way to sustainability. We have to look at the root causes of climate change, pollution, and other problems and figure out how to work together to solve them. I see it happening everywhere – and you will, too...
Today, most of our pollution, waste, and environmental toxins end up in low-income communities and communities of color. These blog posts, audio podcasts, and videos will shed light on the activists and grassroots organizations that are working to transform this challenge—increasing access to housing, food, and water; supporting indigenous communities; building a green collar economy; and, with optimism and creativity, striving vigorously and resolutely for environmental justice for all.
...Environmental rights are civil rights, and climate change has no boundaries. What brings us together is stronger than what keeps us apart....
WATCH>> The Good Fight with Simran Sethi Episode 01: The Greening of Greensburg 30 second Video
One final colleague, Sarah Rich, notes on Earth Day 2008 over at Inhabitat that many people who see looming gargantuan crises are arguing that small individual actions are inconsequential. A year prior she, along with Alex Steffen, called for the end of Earth Day in favor of a widespread priority shift from trying to create change at the level of consumer-oriented minutiae, to rethinking systems, governments, and corporations. Writes Rich:
I still believe that massive change won’t be possible without a wholesale reconfiguration of policy and industrial production.... So this Earth Day, as the Beijing Olympics approach and anti-China sentiment builds, perhaps we can ask ourselves how to merge the merits of individual action with the necessity of whole systems thinking. Pitting the US against China on an environmental score arms political administrations with ammunition to prevent the very progress we hope for, and sets up the next generation for a new kind of sanctioned prejudice. China and the US may have different problems and different needs, but we are entwined everywhere from the economy to the atmosphere. There is no such thing as sustainability that is not global.
Here's to tackling the issues and the Enviro New Wave -- surf's up, dude!
WATCH>> Alex Steffen, Sarah Rich, Graham Hill and Simran Sethi in conversation:
HauteGREEN Salon Part One [2 minutes]
HauteGREEN Salon Part Two [3 minutes]