I have noticed, and I’m sure many of you guys have also, a lot of changes our current President has been attempting to get through within the first couple of month in his presidency. Many of the changes that have been not so popular in my book have a great deal to go with the environment and women. This made me think back to our class discussion on ecofeminism, and why it’s so relevant today. This link between harm to the environment and harm to women’s rights at the hands of men is still a large problem today in politics.
In his first couple of months President Trump has made moves to cut funding for the EPA, has advanced the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, signed executive orders to defund Planned Parenthood, and made attempts to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act. One thing I found particular disturbing with his replacement healthcare plan is that it includes things such as rape, as a “pre existing condition”. With all these actions attempted so quickly it is hard not to notice a pattern of exploitation of the environment and male dominance over women’s rights with Trump and his white, male, conservative cabinet.
This is a time in history when environmentalists and feminists need to come together more than ever, to fight for these just causes. In order to make a movement for a change one needs to express their opinions and use their voice.
I have found the projects in our class on sustainable practices in different businesses to be extremely interesting. In a time where there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the future of the environmental movement, it is both exciting and hopeful to see both big and small companies making strides in the right direction.
In particular I have loved hearing about bigger companies, that may not have always embraced sustainable practices, changing their tone. I believe this is strongly to do with the consumer, and what the consumer wants. This goes to prove again what we have discussed in class, that the consumer holds a great deal of power. Companies pay a great deal of money to understand what we, as the consumer, want from their products.
For many right now the environmental movement is “in style”, and while this may not be the ideal in why one should believe in the environmental movement, at least it isn’t pushing against it. Due to this being in style companies are marketing to the point of view, the millennials that are looking to save the world. And with the new marketing platforms on social media, companies are able to sell even when you’re not looking for it. We as the consumer need to hold on to this control, and keep these large companies moving toward a more sustainable future.
In this past presidential election I noticed a growing presence of political propaganda on social media. As social media has grown to be a huge part of our day-to-day lives, politicians have noticed this trend and created a new platform to get their messages across. Just a few examples of this are Marco Rubio broadcasting “Snapchat Stories” at stops along the trail, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush arguing over student debt on Twitter, Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham produce goofy YouTube videos, the list goes on and on.
And while this direct contact with voters can be a great platform to get ideas and messages across, it can also be harmful. While politicians can get their messages across, it seems to be that only the loudest get heard. A prime example of this is our current President of the United States, Donald Trump. Trump has made a career out of talking over and bullying people to get his way, and when he was a reality TV show host that was all fine and good, but when you’re running to be the president these tactics are extremely frowned upon. Or are they?
Trump has turned campaigning and debates into prime time entertainment, and it has clearly worked in his favor. Due to this entertainment factor people decided they liked him based on reasons they would never like any other person, let alone any other politician. Is this what the future holds for politics? Citizens voting based on entertainment as opposed to values and the common good?
As we discussed in class, economics are a vital part of not only American life but also global life. I found this to be very interesting, as someone who knows very little about economics I was excited to know anything about how the system operates. But as we started our discussion I found it to be a little unnerving, particularly the “empty” vs “full” worldview. As the environmental movement gains momentum, there are still many people against it and even more roadblocks. Personally I don’t understand how people can have little to no concern about environmental degradation and climate change considering the abundance of research that has gone into proving it. But as we discusses economics and the “empty” vs. “full” worldview I started to understand their perspective a little more. These people are against it simply because they still view our world as empty, with infinite opportunity for growth, when this simply isn’t the case.
As we deplete our natural capital, our man made capital grows exponentially. And when our world was empty this growth was good, it made people money and helped people with their day-to-day necessities. But we don’t live in that world anymore, we aren’t creating to help people acquire their necessities, we grow just for the fun of over consumption, and this is where the problem lies. Until people have an understanding that our natural capital needs to not only exist, but prosper in order for man made capital to have success, we will continue to struggle with the challenges that face our current environmental state.
When we first started discussing greenwashing in class it really peaked my interest, due to the fact that I consider myself to be environmentally conscious when I see products advertised as “natural” or “green” it does tend to peak my interest. And that is the whole point, it’s supposed to appeal to this increasingly growing environmental movement that a lot of people care about. But is it all marketing, and what do these sustainable buzz words really mean?
While I do notice this type of marketing often in food packaging, I also tend to see them in the beauty industry. I decided to look into this a little deeper, specifically in shampoo and conditioner. When looking into the marketing of these products they all tend to describe “organic minerals and vitamins” that will save your hair. In particular Herbal Essences advertises “a truly organic experience”, so i decided to figure out how organic it really is. Turns out, not very, considering lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol and D&C red no. 33, and 1,4-Dioxane aren’t organic. Not only are these chemicals are dyes not eco friendly, they may be harmful to public health. 1,4-Dioxane is a carcinogen linked to organ toxicity and is in as many as 22% of cosmetic products, and despite this it is often not found on labels. The health concerns include cancer, organ-system toxicity and irritation.
Learning this information really shocked me. Companies are making millions of dollars making claims of being natural and good for the environment, when for some of these products that could not be further from the truth. Doing this research was a learning experience for me, that as a consumer one must look deeper into the products they choose to support. Consumers have all the power, and if people decide to put their money into companies that are truly eco friendly, then the big companies will follow.
I am a part of an organization called APE, Alliance for Planet Earth, here on campus, and through APE I have had the opportunity to stand up for issues I believe are important and help raise awareness on campus. Most recently, I tabled in cougar mall and helped students sign petitions to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. At our table we not only had the link and website for people to sign the petition, but we also had contact information for our South Carolina politicians so we could contact them and voice our opinions. In such big widespread national issues such as the DAPL, voicing your input and strong opinions to officials that are meant to represent you is crucial. They are the voices that are heard at the end of the day, and when enough concerned citizens contact them on an issue they react.
The reactions I received for people were very across the board and all interesting. I personally only got one person with an outright negative reaction who was in favor of the DAPL, but other than him I got a response of either enthusiasm or a cold shoulder. I believe that the students who gave us the cold shoulder didn’t do so because they had no opinion on the matter, but because going out of their way or changing their routine to discuss something with people they don’t know is too unfamiliar. I can’t say that I wouldn’t be intimidated by someone tabling and trying to get people to come over. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t given the cold shoulder to other tables that have tried to bring me in. But how do we break this urge to ignore instead of interact?
But all and all the turn out was successful, and in higher numbers that we had anticipated. And knowing that I may have made the tiniest impact on an issue I believe in is an amazing feeling!
For a while now I have considered myself environmentally conscious, I took an environmental studies class in high school and the subject immediately caught my attention. Since then I have always tried to keep myself educated on environmental issues, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job. I would read news articles, research environmental issues, and watch documentaries on environmental problems. But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the movie Racing Extinction that I had fully understood a large area of the problem. Racing Extinction discusses and investigates illegal and detrimental activity in oceans. Whether this be unsustainable mass fishing, or poaching endangered animals.
This movie not only discusses the problems with these environmentally, but why it is that very few people know this problem. When it comes to environmental problems people tend to care about problems they can see, such as deforestation and habitat destruction. But very few people are able to get an up close look at what is happening to our oceans, and due to this lack of education they don’t understand the consequences of these issues.
I can say that I was one of these uneducated people. I considered myself well versed in environmental issues and yet I didn’t know the environmental problems in the ocean, which make up 71% of our earth’s surface. I was a proud “vegetarian” because I understood and had researched the issues with the agricultural industry and what it is doing to the environment, but I continued to eat fish without being educated on how that choice may impact our planet. All and all this movie opened my eyes to a whole new side of the environmental movement, and educated me on very important issues that need to be brought to light.
In watching the documentary Cowspiracy it truly amazed me how something we come in contact with so frequently day to day, such as food in our diet, can have such a profound impact on the environment. In thinking about the agricultural industry people may think about how sad it is for the animals, if they think about it at all, and before this movie not many people thought about the environmental significance of your diet. This documentary proves your diet has a profound impact on the world around you. Cowspiracy discusses how the agricultural industry impacts the environment on many different levels. Not only impacting climate change but also runoff into the oceans, deforestation, and food scarcity.
It baffles me that more people don’t have access to this information, and what’s even worse is the people that do have access to it and refuse to acknowledge these facts because it would be too difficult to change the routine of their diet. Many Americans are afraid of change, change in perspective, change in their education, and even a change in their diet. Another aspect of this issue that continues to amaze me is that even with this knowledge, our government isn’t making the slightest effort to make any change. One would this that in finding this information there would be a great revelation, in which there would be a large decrease in meat and dairy production in order to save the planet. But meat and dairy production are a huge source of income for our country, and due to this there is no willingness to change it. I don’t understand how people could value money and economic gain over the well being of the place we all call home, earth.
I would recommend anyone and everyone watch this documentary, even if it doesn’t affect your diet longterm it could persuade someone to be more conscious and thoughtful when it comes to something as seemingly minuscule as their diet.