I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but I’m getting a kind of reputation here in the Netherlands as an environmentalist. And truth be told, that both excites me and makes me uncomfortable. Now here is the question; what do people mean when they call me an environmentalist? Are they referring to my eco-friendly ideologies and lifestyle or do they mistake me for someone with a scientific mind who can explain why global warming is a reality, or lay out the intricacies of the marine ecosystem and how our misuse of the ocean as a trash can combined with over fishing are destroying this vast resource? Well, I can do that to a degree, but not without first referencing the research that experts in the field have conducted. I’m admitting to the following; there is not a scientific bone in my body.
On the other hand, thanks to a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and years of writing experience, I can read and digest information about the environment and (often) convey it in an intelligible manner; but is this enough? That is the question that has always haunted this “lifestyle environmentalist.”
Is there room in the environmental movement for those not steeped in science? This question represents a fear I’ve nurtured and given legs throughout my life, leaving me with the following damning conviction: you can’t be an environmentalist, Kristin, because you didn’t study environmental science, marine biology and geography. You’re more of an environmental cheerleader; your sleek words the pom poms, your enthusiasm the cheer, your soap box the half-time show. Glitz and glamour without the substance to back it up. Sure it’s cute. But the game (the real environmentalists) is what matters. But is this true?
I mean, I have done a fair bit of good for the environment with those pom poms; I’ve made lifestyle choices that reduce my impact on the environment, I’ve volunteered for environmental organizations, I aided and abetted the Handkerchief revolution in the U.S., I’ve grown gardens and planted seeds in community projects, I initiated a sustainability project at the firm I used to work for, I was on the sustainability committee at our church in the U.S., and I’ve written a novel called GREEN where the environment is far more than the half time show.
But when someone calls me an environmentalist, I feel a need to slow them down and make the distinction. “I”m more of a lifestyle environmentalist,” I hear myself saying.
And this lifestyle environmentalist is currently organizing a mini “Earth Day Celebration” in The Hague, slated for Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 at the ABC Treehut from 17:00-19:00
Boy was that fun to put into a block quote! More details on this Earth Day Celebration will be forthcoming on this blog, on Facebook and via emails to my peeps in The Hague.
What are your thoughts? Do lifestyle environmentalists Count? Can they play an important role in expanding the environmental movement?
6 thoughts on “Do lifestyle environmentalists count?”
Kristin, your work is so important! Think of it as being part of a team — some know the science and some know how to communicate the science into words everyone can understand, and even more importantly, some care enough to live it as best they can. So all I can say is thank you for what you do to make the world a better place for my grandchildren and for generations yet to come!
Hi Carola, thank you for this heartfelt response. You made my day! And I agree, we need all sorts of people to make this world a better place.
Absolutely. Lifestyle environmentalists are the great advertisers. They know how to reach the masses in a meaningful display and language the average person can understand; whereas environmental scientists are immersed into their studies, statistics and semantics and therefore may not be convincing. For example, sometimes only a “mob” action can get something across.
NLA Solvang, CA, USA
Thanks for your comments NLA. i agree with you!
Gracious, every little bit helps, doesn’t it? You probably make a lot less carbon than a lot of scientists who happen to study global warming. So there!
Anyway, I’ve decided that the real environmentalists are the poor people. I mean really poor. Like miserable. Because they don’t shop and they don’t drive. And they die young, which is awesome for the planet. I don’t know if you’d call it a Lifestyle, though.
Oh Kate. You are unfortunately right about the extremely poor–to a degree. I was reading a study about water management, and it is often the poorest of the poor who still defecate in public, because they don’t have access to sanitary facilities, which of course spreads disease and pollutes the environment. This just adds insult to injury as guess who gets sick? The poorest of the poor who are exposed to the contaminated water systems. On that happy note. It certainly isn’t a lifestyle choice. But there are international organizations collaborating to address this problem. I wrote about it here on a blog I started, but haven’t really given much time to: http://environmentalexpat.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/water-security/