You're not a real environmentalist unless you do *insert thing here

1 February 2017
You're not a real environmentalist unless you do *insert thing here

Do you have solar?
Are you living off the grid?
Do you own a car?
How many cars does your household have?
Do you grow all your own food?
Are you vegan?
Are you vegetarian?
Why would you have a child? It's not environmentally friendly.
How can you live in a city and be an environmentalist?
Do you fly in airplanes?
Do you offset your carbon?
Do you use family cloth?
You can't care about environment and vote for anyone but the Greens, right?

The above are examples of the type of questions, I have received over the years. The questions are usually asked as a test, to find out how much I truly care about the environment. And it's not just me. I have witnessed others cornered by the same inquisitions.

I used to loathe being called an environmentalist. It's a term that I never identified myself as. But over the years, I've slowly cared less about the label people will brand me with. Our society likes to put us into boxes, not for the reason of reducing someone to an ideology, rather I believe its more for ease of use.

But what does frustrate me, is that if you are labeled an environmentalist, there are certain boxes that must be ticked or people will say your not trying hard enough.

“You're not a real environmentalist unless you do *insert thing here”

I want to bust this. Why? It's simply not fair. If anything, these assumptions are limiting, and it means the conversation is owned before it has begun. Doors are shut and people are divided.

There will be people who can answer these expectations, earning them a green tick of approval. And that's great. I applaud those people. But in no way should someone who does not have solar or live 100% vegan be made to believe they are not doing enough. That very person, whose having a finger pointed at them, just might not be there yet and who knows, they could invest in solar, go vegan and ditch their car when it's right for them.

I believe in doing the best you can, with what you have got, where you are.

Next time someone asks you a question, tell them the truth. Tell them that you're not ready to afford solar yet, but are an environmentalist and are doing your best.

The same could be said for the zero waste and plastic-free movements. If you are not ready to try a menstrual cup, but are doing what you can to reduce plastic use in other areas, then a high-five to you. Your journey should be celebrated.

No one owns the environmentalist label. The far left don't own it. It just happens to be where the majority of environmentalists are for now. I am an optimist, and believe that a greater love and respect for the environment can one day diffuse socially through all areas, all political parties.

I truly believe small changes lead to larger changes, and those smaller steps make you no less of an environmentalist than any one else. 
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