Challenging Eco-Flex CultureNovember 10, 2020
Decolonizing and democratizing eco culture to be more inclusive through 2 common eco topics: dietary choices & clothing.
By Rachael Moorthy
Our society is a tad obsessed with rigid categories, and I’ve always found that to be a massive bummer.
From blood quantums, to distinctions between mental and physical health, to separating art from science—The Man encourages us to go to extreme lengths in order to prove our individual superiority.
It’s no secret that this hierarchical thinking pattern has bled into the eco-conscious sphere. Who among us lives most ethically? The most sustainably? Who is the most righteous? I’d argue that eco-flex culture is for squares, because it’s not very inclusive, and we human beings are wired for community and unity!
As opposed to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is a colonial perspective that focuses solely on the needs of the individual, the First Nations perspective is a holistic, expansive concept, wherein self-actualization is the mere base of the tipi, leading into community actualization, and finally cultural perpetuity—woah, big words.
“Basically, what this means
is that our personal impact transcends our individual lives,
and that our success should be measured
by how much our actions help the greater good!”
I personally think this is totally rad, but sadly, it’s something that is often overlooked. Today, why don’t we take a gander at two commonly discussed environmental issues, how we can continue to work together to reduce our emissions and also decolonialize the way we think about them.
- Dietary Choices (Spoiler alert: shaming does not work, my friends)
This is a sensitive one. You might not be in the economic position to be picky about what you eat, and fair enough. You might have had issues with disordered eating, digestive disorders, or food security issues in the past. Or maybe, you are a loud and proud locavore vegan. For the latter, rather than telling everyone they need to cut out meat, dairy, and/or processed foods, which might cause some folks to bug out, why not connect with your local organic Indigenous farm or seafood company? Maybe provide some eco and budget-friendly alternatives for your friends or colleagues? For people in the first two situations, the focus probably shouldn’t be on the food itself, but on the packaging and the production. Plastic is a real drag, so the less of that, the groovier. Also, don’t be afraid to politely call your well-intentioned but privileged friends out from time to time. Tone and empathy will play a big role in this, so let’s work together to make organic, sustainable eating more accessible for us all by being more aware of the disparities in our communities!
- Eco-friendly Clothing
I hear you, that eco-friendly cotton T is a beauty. I myself treasure my pink backpack made out of recycled water bottles…but regardless of how neato it looks, and it IS super rad that it’s made out of recycled materials, it’s worth noting that it is actually more ethical to fix or swap clothing rather than to buy it. It creates less waste because the items go directly to the person who will use it. Also, seeing a friend or any community member wearing an item that has been sitting around in my home unused is worth more than the few dollars I’d get from a vintage boutique. Free is cheaper than cheap, and some of my all time favourite items are hand-me-downs from friends! Owning a certain water bottle, phone case, hoodie, or backpack should not be a pre-req for being environmentally conscious, ya dig?
Now it’s your turn! What environmental issues do you think would be worthwhile to look at through a collective lens rather than an individual one? How might eco-flex culture be bumming you out? Comment below so we can continue the discussion.
Keep your head up, heart open, and keep on fighting the good fight!
Peace and love,
By Rachael Moorthy (she/her)
Black, Indigenous, South Asian, and European descent
‘More Than Our Physical Forms” Interview with PRISM International