Some time ago I wrote about why being vegan doesn’t make you an environmentalist, and that inspired me to write about yet another myth I see being spread around.
The myth I am talking about is that to be a real environmentalist you must be zero-waste.
Not only is living a zero-waste lifestyle one of the hardest things to do in our society but it is also not realistic. Unlike veganism, where you just CHANGE your habits, with a zero-waste lifestyle you have to completely stop doing hundreds of things you used to do.
Of course, people who are doing this and are trying to help others are absolute angels and deserve recognition, but not being one of them doesn’t make us any less of an environmentalist.
I mean, just going to the movies is a big task because of all the tickets, not to mention the hassle one has to go through to clean one’s clothes. Do you DIY everything or do you have to send empty bottles to be refilled?
And what if you live on the countryside or in a country where there are no companies that are zero-waste and will refill, I don’t know, washing detergent or something? Do you have to send it to another country?
I know, it’s not about perfection but that’s the whole point. It’s just too unrealistic to the majority of people to be zero-waste in 2019. Eventually, we will have so many resources that living this lifestyle will be easy but right now? No really.
I want to encourage everyone who is an environmentalist but is shamed by zero-wasters for still using plastic and rubber and glass, to reduce and reuse when possible. It’s better to be imperfect long-term than perfect short-term and then be one of this ex-whatever-people who failed big time at whatever they were trying and now they hate everything.
To be an environmentalist is to keep improving your relationship to Mother Earth every single day. Going vegan, zero-waste or protesting once a month doesn’t automatically make you an environmentalist.
It’s a process, not something you suddenly become overnight.
I have been an environmentalist before I started reducing plastic and before I lived a vegan lifestyle; now that I am doing these two things, I am just being better at environmentalism.
I am always improving because it’s not about one thing that you do that makes you an environmentalist, it’s about all the little changes you are making and the way you think about Earth.
It’s one thing to protest and point fingers at the governments (which you know I hate) while calling yourself an environmentalist, and a totally different thing to be constantly improving the way you live and helping others do the same while knowing you are an environmentalist.
It doesn’t matter if you call yourself an environmentalist; it’s about what your actions say. That’s why most of these people who think that being zero-waste makes them better than other environmentalists need to shut up.
It’s like people who say they have a black friend, therefore, they are not racist. Like, I get it, you are probably not as racist as a KKK member but having one black friend doesn’t mean you are not a racist; it’s about how you are in every other situation when your friend is not around.
That’s probably not a really good comparison but do you know what I am trying to say? Does it make sense?
Veganism is not even about the environment, it’s about our fellow animals, and going to the extremes of not shopping anything ever again, it’s like… I get it you are making big changes but still, that’s not what environmentalism is about.
It’s about so much more. It’s about the way you live your life every day and the way you see our planet and the way you feel towards Earth. One big drastic change doesn’t make you better if you are not feeling it.
It’s about changing things but not sacrificing everything we care about. If you love fashion, do it but make it ethical. If you want to be an important CEO, create that product and sell it to the masses. You don’t have to be a hippie to be an environmentalist, you just have to do it in a way that does the least amount of harm to your mother. You need to love her even if you are only making 30% eco choices.
Am I wrong? Do I expect too much from people? Let me know in the comments if I am too romantic about what it means to be an environmentalist.
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