Each year, April 22 marks the anniversary of Earth Day, an event which began in 1970 as a way to talk about environmental concerns, protest all the harm being done to our planet, and promote conservational efforts. So, as we get ready for the event this year, why not consider enacting a few feminist ways to celebrate Earth Day? It may sound somewhat surprising, but environmentalism is absolutely a feminist issue. At the intersection of women's liberation and environmental justice lies a movement called ecofeminism; this movement is all about critically examining how the exploitation of women and the exploitation of the environment are linked. Social justice, equality, and caring for our planet are all tied up with one another, and there's a lot we can do in support of it.
So, how exactly are feminism and environmentalism linked? There are a few things that are important to consider when thinking about ecofeminism. First, huge corporations are responsible for much of the world's emissions, and it's important to note that a number of these are the same corporations that exploit the labor of women, undocumented immigrants, and indigenous people around the world. Furthermore, even though the top producer's of the world's emissions are located in the West, climate change disproportionately affects women in developing countries. Natural disasters increase, water sources become unusable, and air quality declines in developing countries, even though their emissions are some of the lowest in the world.
This Earth Day, here are some steps you can take to combine your feminism with your love for the planet this Earth Day:
1. Invest In Eco-Friendly Beauty Products And Sustainable Fashion Brands
Companies like Tarte, Alba, Burt's Bees, The Body Shop and Lavanila Labratories make certain beauty products free of harsh chemicals and animal byproducts, which not only encourages human health, but also promotes environmental health as well. Clothing labels like Mayamiko, Krotchet Kids, and Madefair also source materials ethically and practice eco-friendly policies.
2. Use A Menstrual Cup
According to the Diva Cup website, an average woman will use over 9,500 tampons in her lifetime. If we look at the United States alone, that's 2.9 trillion tampons that will end up in landfills... which also means the content of 2.9 trillion potentially chemically-infused substances have the opportunity to get absorbed into groundwater, streams, and lakes. Pads pose a similar issue in landfills. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, are reusable, significantly cutting the contributions to landfills made by each person who menstruates. Menstrual cups like the Diva Cup can be found online or at certain grocery stores and drug stores.
3. Volunteer With Eco-Feminist Groups
For example, Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) is a non-governmental organization that focuses on equality through a lens of the environment and sustainability. Their mission is to "ensure that women’s rights; social, economic and environmental justice; and sustainable development principles — as well as the linkages between them — are at the heart of global and national policies, programs and practices." WEDO is based in New York, but no worries if your neighborhood doesn't specifically have any eco-feminist organizations. Volunteering with another organization that promotes awareness about or helps the environment is just as good!
4. Spend The Day Eating Locally Sourced Food
By eating local, you're supporting women and other farmers in your own communities instead of corporate agricultural companies which exploit women, undocumented workers, and animals. Feminism has always concerned itself with the health and well-being of communities, and there's no better way to ensure this than eating food grown and sourced near your home. In addition to community building, eating local saves transportation fuel, cutting your carbon footprint tremendously. It's important to note, however, that not all communities are able to eat local; many communities are within food deserts, meaning they don't have access to locally grown meat or produce. In this case, instead of eating locally, spend the day contacting local politicians advocating for the improvement of resources within your community.
5. Educate Yourself!
One of the best things you can do on Earth Day is learn about the earth and how it's being affected by our actions and decisions. We all love Netflix documentaries, so check out some flicks like Food, Inc to learn about how our eating habits impact the environment, or Gasland, an investigation of the way fracking impacts communities and the world as a whole. If you're more of a bookworm, check out This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein (trust me, this book actually will change everything), which takes a critical look at how existing political and governmental systems promote environmental harm.