Environmentalists: What are they? Am I one? Can I be one?

According to Merriam-Webster, environmentalism is advocacy of the preservation, restoration, or improvement of the natural environment; especially:  the movement to control pollution.

I am always up for advocating for those whose voices are not heard.  The Earth is a special case because she has been trying to warn us with rising temperatures, mass extinction, and increased infections/illnesses due to smog, but we are not listening!!!

When someone says “environmentalism,” many people think about tree-huggers, “extreme” vegans, bicyclists who don’t shower, “hippies” who don’t shave, a crazy lady who yells at you for not recycling, and any other stereotype that may or may not be true about me.  It turns out plenty of people fit into those categories who aren’t concerned about environmentalism and plenty of environmentalists don’t fit into those categories!  You don’t have to be all (or any) of these people in order to start on your path to advocating for the natural environment.  Your path does not even have to be towards these descriptions!

Questions have circulated such as “Can you call yourself an environmentalist and still eat meat?” and “Can you call yourself an environmentalist if you have kids?”  I definitely think you can and I think you can do a lot of good!  I am not arguing that reducing meat consumption and population would not have a positive impact on the environment.  It definitely would, but that should not stop someone from having access to the environmentalism community.  There are so many more things we can do together such as recycle, take shorter showers, not buying fast fashion, reduce storm water runoff with bioswales, grow fresh food, reduce energy consumption, research renewable energy options, use reusable shopping bags, plant trees, and literally so much more!  You don’t have to do everything as long as you’re not doing nothing!

As an environmentalism community we should ask for change from each other and expect change from ourselves. We should advocate for a shift towards environmentally friendly actions, but also be welcoming and accessible to those who are not ready or even able to make big changes. Each positive action or reduction of negative actions add up!  No two environmentalists are the same so our goals may not be the same.  Regardless, we need to support each other!

Let me know your current goals below!  And let me know if you agree that meat-eating, children-having, car-driving, (anything else-doing) people are members of our community.

 

I’m an Eco Rep!!!

This coming year I’m going to be an Eco Rep at my university through our Office of Sustainability. The mission of the Eco Reps program is to effectively educate and empower students within their residential communities to act as environmental stewards, while simultaneously providing opportunities for involvement in campus sustainability. The Eco Reps program is interested in investing in our most valuable resource for positive cultural change: our students.

Through this program, I’m going to:

  • Learn about sustainability and environmental issues (I definitely do this already, but I’ll have a group to do it with!)
  • Conduct sustainability-related outreach and plan and promote educational sustainability-related programming
  • Engage peers in creating a sustainable community within the residence hall and connect students to important resources on campus
  • Create important mentor-mentee relationships with residential students, many of whom are freshmen, transfer students, or international students.
  • Collect concerns and questions regarding resource management and conservation issues on campus
  • Directly improve the Ole Miss community by increasing environmental awareness and generating a sense of community around environmental stewardship

I am really excited and so thankful for this opportunity!  I am counting on you guys to give me any advice you may have!  Have any of y’all participated in a similar program? Or wished you could have?  Let me know! 🙂

 

Meatless Mondays: The Veg Life Chose Me

Like I’ve said before, some easy environmentalism tips aren’t so easy where I am from.  When I was younger, I never really liked the taste of meat and would much rather eat potatoes!  I would unknowingly go days without meat and thought about or even attempted going vegetarian many times before.

One day, I was on YouTube for hours on end like I frequently was in my high school days!  I would always get lost and end up watching videos I wouldn’t have ever thought about watching.  I saw a video by Bonny Rebecca.  I can’t find the actual video that inspired me, but this is close.  In the following weeks, I watched vegan documentaries and videos back to back to back.  This included Forks Over Knives (1 hr 36 min), Cowspiracy (1 hr 30 min), Authentic Food Choices Ted Talk (19 min) Gary Yourofsky’s Best Speech Ever (49 min), 101 Reasons to Go Vegan (1 hr 9 min), and Food, Inc (1 hr 33 min) on YouTube or Netflix.  There are definitely more, but those are the ones I remember.  Some of them can be scary or gory so if that bothers me, either ask me or search for which ones will be better for you.

But after only one day of the vegan marathon I was on, I stopped eating animal products.  I, as expected, have messed up since then.  We aren’t perfect of course!  But I think I am making a big difference!  It’s important to make sure you aren’t letting the fear of slipping up stop you from making a big difference!

If I could go back, I probably wouldn’t have jumped in head first because it’s a lot easier to stick to a habit if you adapt to it at a normal rate!  I’ve found better plans that my friends and family have found more successful!

  1. Transitioning One Day at a Time:  This method would be being vegan (or vegetarian or whatever your goal may be) on one day a week until that is normal and then adding one more day a week and so on.  You may get to 7 very quickly and be vegan!  You also might do less forever, but you will still make a big difference!
  2. Transitioning One Meal at a Time:  My most recommended is being vegan at lunch first.  This way if you are craving something, you can have that food for dinner that night!  I also think breakfast can be hard for a lot of people!  Even if you stick with lunch forever, that’s awesome!
  3. Transitioning Through:  This is a method commonly recommended.  It includes eliminating certain foods at a time.  First may be red meat, then being pescatarian, then vegetarian, then vegetarian without dairy, and then vegan!  Like the other methods, each step you take is better than the first and if you stop, it’s still better than never starting!  This is my least favorite of the three, though, because you don’t necessarily figure out vegan meals you like until the very end.  At the same time, it works for people so if you like the idea, try it!

I really recommend everyone watches some of these videos and documentaries simply to be familiar with the issues.  I also think anyone can benefit from decreasing meat and increasing whole foods!  Let me know if y’all have any questions!