Sustainability

Take it from Kermit the Frog when he said, “it’s not easy being green,” because with expensive eco-friendly lifestyles dividing the upper and working class , paired with a nice sprinkle of eco-shaming, it really isn’t.

If there’s one thing that most people can agree on, it’s the fact that the planet isn’t on a good state now. The planet continues to suffer every day as its inhabitants watch the once colorful Great Barrier Reef bleach again due to overheating, or ice glaciers melting, making it harder for polar bears to find food, pushing them closer toward extinction. 

Yes, the planet is important and everyone should be doing what they can to help heal and preserve it. But notice the phrase, “everyone should be doing what they can.” 

Pressuring struggling communities to put in the same amount of effort for green living is not only naive and unfair, but cruel.For low-income communities some issues, such as survival, is a bigger threat. 

For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has been squeezing human life out of the planet. The people most affected are those who live in low-income communities, especially those with a high-minority population. In late April, Los Angeles County health officials said those residing in low-income areas are “three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those in wealthier communities,” according to the Los Angeles Times. 

The higher number of deaths due to COVID-19 is another issue in working-class communities, along with persisting obstacles like food insecurity, lack of health insurance, housing, limited resources, high crime rates and poor school systems; which  have all been exacerbated by the coronavirus and stay-at-home orders. 

Everyone doesn’t share the same responsibilities for green living when socioeconomic status plays such a huge role, along with  factors like illness or disabilities that may influence the way they live and shop. The rich need to lead the way, instead of shaming those who don’t have the time, money or ability to do more. 

 That isn’t to say that low-income communities aren’t doing anything at all. Most are already green living since they are more likely to use public transit, and avoid long drives or flights.

It’s not that I don’t applaud the rich for being conscious about the environment, but environmentalists need to remember  that being environmentally-friendly isn’t just buying the most expensive alternatives, it’s about utilizing the best option given the circumstances.. 

For those who still don’t understand, that means to stop “eco-shaming” those around you. Gatekeepers ask every self-proclaimed environmentalist to present their green badges, but not before shaming them for every eco-friendly thing they are either doing wrong or aren’t doing at all. 

Negativity and arrogance make the green community a hostile environment when the main goal is to be more inviting and help promote greener options that everyone can accomplish, even if it’s small. 

The burden of truth is, self-environmentalism is not going to do much to help our already decaying planet. 

Environmental identity will lead to low-impact pro-environmental behaviors that rarely reduce lifestyle emissions, according to Vox.

With this in mind, the perspective changes on who deserves the shame and guilt of not doing enough for the planet. 

Those in the green community need to demand change from politicians and fossil fuel burning businesses, instead of shaming each other for flying to another state rather than traveling by train or bus.

Last year’s Green New Deal was the only sliver of hope, which was an investment into clean-energy jobs and infrastructure. However, the specifics were lacking and the U.S. Senate ultimately voted down the resolution. 

What the deal did accomplish was bringing an even greater awareness of climate change, with more young activists going to the forefront of the conversation. 

With a growing number of concerns, popularity and activists, environmentalists need to take the focus off those already a part of the movement and focus their energies on those whose decisions will create the biggest impact on the nation and on the planet.

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