This week officially marks the beginning of Earth Month, which includes Earth Day on April 22nd! For environmental groups this is probably the most exciting time of the year. Besides the snow melting away and cherry blossoms blooming by the tidal basin here in DC, April is the month environmentalists use to champion green movements. This is the time when we preach our way of living to others and encourage those who are unaware of our green movements to join in and become citizens of the world. April is also a time to remind others of issues that are plaguing our planet like high levels of pollution, lack of access to drinking water, as well as environmental injustices.
Earth Day started in 1970 during the height of the hippie movement, which may explain the stereotype of environmentalists being viewed as people with dreadlocks, being tree huggers, and wearing tie dye shirts ALL the time. While this stereotype certainly holds true for some environmentalists, I have realized that we all look different and all have different points of view in terms of sustainability and what being green means.
For some, recycling is “green” enough for them and their contribution to the planet. For others being “green” means minimizing their footprint as much as possible by buying used clothing, eating only vegan local food, and not using fossil fuel based transportation. From my experience in a green organization on my university’s campus, I have learned that we all have different visions for how we should be greener and more environmentally conscious. I have seen how easy it is to passionately argue for the “right” way to get to a goal. I do not think there is a “right” way to solve all our problems. I think we have to choose the most efficient and comprehensive methods to achieve our goals.
While we may all have different visions and ways of contributing to the cause, I think most of us will agree that the health of humans is the highest priority. Because of this reason, I want everyone to include environmental justice in his or her definition of being green and in his or her view of the future. Every action we make has a repercussion somewhere else. When we choose to take a cab somewhere instead of walking we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and dirty the air for those around us. When we buy food that has traveled around the world before arriving at our nearest grocery store, we are supporting unsustainable agricultural practices, which then make it difficult for local organic farmers to continue their business. The list goes on and on. We obviously cannot live our lives scrutinizing every single decision we make but we can be more conscientious of the power we have to make a positive change in those around us by making small changes. This includes supporting EJ communities and standing with them.
The scorecard is finally on its way. The EPA and other environmental organizations have shown interest in the scorecard, which is amazing news. Now the pressure is on to deliver a well-written and concise report for them. For this Earth Month keep others in mind and find a way you can make a change to help alleviate the burden we have placed on this planet as well as those who are most affected by climate change.