Sometimes—often—the news and media can get you down. For the ecofeminist, news can be downright devastating. Climate change is frying our cities, affecting the poorest people first—the majority women and children. Food deserts are rampant in these poorer areas. The government doesn’t seem to be slowing down subsidized crop worship, unwilling to help the small organic farmers who actually grow food fit to eat. Chemical companies are polluting air and water, but people continue to buy toxic materials produced by these companies to decorate and clean their homes.
In 1990, legal scholar Angela P. Harris wrote in the anthology The Fire this Time, “As feminists begin to attack racism and classism and homophobia, feminism will change from being only women as women to being about all kinds of oppressions based on seemingly inherent and unalterable characteristics. We need not wait for a unified theory of oppression; that theory can be feminism.” I would also include the environment in this string of oppressions. These issues overlap, and become stronger and more powerful when aligned. Feminism needs to be elastic enough to carry all of their combined weight.
So what is an eco-minded feminist to do amidst this world of depressing destruction? All I can advise is this: Get out there. Educate yourself. Do something and know you did that something. Education and awareness about systems of oppression is more crucial than ever. It is up to us to be eco-warriors, for the sake for feminism, for the sake of all oppression in the world. It is not only about buying “eco-friendly products,” which, thanks to greenwashing, we should be wary of anyway. It’s about not buying new, if we can help it. It’s about lifestyle choices and doing what you can: Make it, buy it used, buy it new if you must, but know what materials are in it, who made it, etc. It is about powering down at home. Walk and bike more, make wise food choices, harvest rainwater, hang your clothes up to dry. And get out into the community. Work in a community soup kitchen, or start your own. Participate in urban farming. Plant a renegade food forest, permaculture-style. Become increasingly self-sufficient, and less dependent on chemical-ridden corporations. Even if it’s little things you do, you’ll feel better and more powerful. These are not always easy choices, or sometimes even possible ones, but they are a start to get the mind thinking and consciously aware. There are plenty of books for inspiration and organizations you can volunteer with to find unity and community.
Making drastic lifestyle choices is scary, but can be done. My boyfriend (now husband) and I quit our jobs in the hopes that we could make it as organic farmers, though we had no farmers in our family, no real encouragement, and no land access. We now rent land, and, though the last time I made so little money was when I was in high school working at a library, we are making it work. Starting a business, or having a “green” occupation that helps society and the earth isn’t for everyone, but if it is in you, then go for it. The earth has your back.
Thanks to Bitch Media for letting me be one of the many voices of ecofeminism during this series. Being able to see the world, including media, through an ecofeminist lens is important. Everything is related, and everything can be dissected. I’ve had people around me that call me “too sensitive”; can’t I just buy that Starbucks iced coffee without thinking of it not being fair-trade and shade-grown, and without thinking about the plastic cup it’s in, its plastic straw and with the straw’s paper cover? Can’t I ignore the factory-farmed milk it has in it, the sugar in it that is grown in a non-eco way? Can’t I just drink the coffee and lighten up? Well, when you put it all together, it can seem like too much. But unfortunately, I’m not overreacting; the world is what has gotten so messed up, so deformed in light of humanity’s quest for wealth, personal gain, thoughtless pleasure and material possessions—it’s the world that’s gone haywire. I wish it wasn’t all like this, but it is. I wish I could snap my fingers and it could be different, but it won’t be. We live in this world, and we have to continue living in it, doing our best to mend its wounds, even in what seems to be impossibly small ways. Collectively, I really believe all of our actions mean something. Keep fighting the good fight, and let’s make our uphill ecofeminist battle soar.