Yes, You Are An Environmentalist
Someone once told me that I wasn’t really an environmentalist because [fill in the blank]. It doesn’t really matter why. I realized that this person was sharing with me something important to them that formed the root of their own environmentalism. They’d found a big way to be more environmental that mattered deeply to them, something they thought was so effective that they couldn’t believe everyone who identified as an environmentalist hadn’t adopted it.
Somehow, I couldn’t take offense. I understand what it’s like to care deeply and to adopt an environmental practice and wish every environmentalist would automatically do the same. What a difference we could make if we could all simultaneously adopt all the good green ideas out there! But we don’t live in a world that makes that easy, or even possible.
It’s important to remember that we all have different strengths as environmentalists. Maybe you’re into zero waste, or going without a car, or, like me, eating plant-based. We also all have weak points that are challenging or would make us unhappy to change, like plastic food packaging, a long commute or enjoying travel. I will probably go to my grave clutching a bottle of imported champagne with my Nest thermostat set to my preferred temperature.
No matter what your strengths are or what areas you’re still tackling, if you’re reading this post you’re an environmentalist.
Sharing solutions with each other to live greener lives is great. But we also have to welcome each other and meet everyone where they’re at on their journey. If we bombard green-curious people with a to-do list of changes they need to make if they’re going to be environmentalists, they may decide they’re not up to the challenge and turn the other way.
We also need to be kind to ourselves. Make the changes that are easiest first. Find your strengths as an environmentalist. Look for challenges that bring you satisfaction.