Environmentalism – Everything Is Changing

April 30, 2023


In Octavia Butler’s 1993 novel, Parable Of The Sower, she presents a world decimated by capitalism and climate change. A dystopian landscape that is bleak, violent and obsolete. Central to its story is the community of a belief system and Lauren Olamina.  A 15 year old girl with hyperempathy – the ability to feel other people’s pain and pleasure. Lauren’s ability to feel other pain is key in highlighting the inequality in the landscape. It also shows an understanding of what it means to be in someone else’s shoes. It ties in to her beliefs of Earthseed – a community based belief system that God is Change. Through caring and nurturing our surroundings, God is shaped to reflect us and like scattered seeds, we are dispersed to change others beyond this earth. This union of community, inequality and environment covers the crux of environmental activism today. The disproportionate effects of global warming and fast fashion on the Global south, the use of poorer communities as dumping grounds and the ways capitalism takes and takes first from those considered other, and then everyone else. 

Traditionally, spring starts in March. A sign of hope and respite from the colder winter months. As we end May, the Met office is currently predicting flood alerts, rainy spells and a gradual increase in cold weather across the country. Last year, the country saw temperatures rise up to 40 degrees after a series of heat waves across June to August. These extremities in weather are not new. The last few years have seen heatwaves in February and snow in April. Colder and harsher winters backed with the ever increasing cost of living crisis. Things are not looking good. 

Nine years later, the Flint water crisis is still ongoing. A result of an attempt to save money through switching water supply, the case continues largely unaddressed as residents battle health and wellness concerns. The reliance on such an individualist and money based system means the health of communities are ravaged by neglect and deterioration marred by ever increasing costs of livelihood and lower life spans. 

The rise of Shein as a fast fashion brand has shown alarming reports on how it treats its workers. There’s exploitation and then there’s Shein. Reports have shown its workers to work 75 hour shifts with minimal work and pay as well a number of labor laws. And while many are aware of it, its appeal in pricing and size inclusion present offerings that other brands may not . 

So what do we do ?

This remains the pressing question to date. Switching to paper straws and reusable bottles only do so much. Billionaires and billionaire corporations are largely bad for the environment due to their unsustainable models and dumped output in poorer countries. Private jets have immense carbon footprints- an issue beyond the hands of your everyday person. The move to a better relationship with our material environment means interrogating why and how we shop but for clothing brands – is there access and inclusivity to audiences interested in shopping with you? A lot of the time the answer is no. Activists like  Isra Hirsi and Mari Copeny promote awareness in their own spaces, highlighting the relationship between race, climate and affect. In the end, change is collaborative and we still have a long way to go.