What is Environmentalism?

Environmentalism: A Term That MATTERS

The dictionary definition of environmentalism is “...concern about, and action aimed at protecting the environment.” Environmentalism manifests in the world when an individual or organization generates enough concern about their environment that they feel compelled to take meaningful action. Any person or organization can take steps towards adopting practices that ensure breathable air, clean drinking water, and maintaining natural ecosystems. Of course, as individuals and organizations consolidate their shared investment and interest in a clean environment, they can move from personal or local efforts to large-scale progress  via policy and legislative change. 

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Environmentalism is a term used EVERYWHERE in today’s society, and it’s time that we all take a minute to truly understand what it all means and why it matters.

Responsibility vs. Convenience: Keeping an Eco-Friendly Mind

Environmentalism is often described as a political or social movement.  Some simply describe it as caring for the planet, although it’s a bit more complicated than that. Environmentalism can be broken down into many different principles and nuanced ideologies.

At Conscious Collaborative, we consider human and non-human lives in many decisions that we make on a day-to-day basis. This falls into the ecocentric ideology: one that focuses on the well-being of the Earth as a whole. All beings on this planet we call home evolved from the Earth itself. The organisms that live here continue to live because of the nutrients naturally produced by it. This side of environmentalism believes that all of the living things here (sentient or otherwise) are interconnected because of our total and unquestionable dependency on our planet. Let’s face it, humanity is many lifetimes away from living on hunks of rock floating in space. Ecocentrism means thinking bigger and more inclusively than simply sustaining human life. More than just protecting the things useful to humans, ecocentrism asks human beings to take part in propelling and ensuring the sustenance of everything around them.

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In contrast, there is anthropocentrism, or the human-centered ideology operating under the umbrella that is environmentalism. This is the belief that we should take care of the things from which humans specifically benefit. The anthropocentric outlook emphasizes responsibility to future generations of human beings and whatever benefits their quality of life. Anything beyond that is of secondary concern, to varying degrees. Although this way of thinking has been described as selfish and shallow, objectively it just represents a moral rearrangement or re-prioritization: thinking of our grandchildren’s grandchildren and how we’d want our future family members to live; it represents a species-center approach.

Things You Can Do to be an Environmentalist (Mostly)

Regardless of where you or your organization might fall in the spectrum of environmentalism, to embrace it, you must take responsible action. What matters is that you’re doing your part to lessen the negative impacts of your particular “carbon footprint.”

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There are so many everyday things anyone and everyone can do.

  • Recycle junk mail
  • Upcycle existing “garbage” for a functional purpose (a coffee can as a paintbrush or pen/pencil holder).
  • Turn off or unplug lights or appliances that aren’t being used
  • Switch to  energy-efficient light bulbs
  • Take shorter showers
  • Take up composting or gardening
  • Carpool, cycle, or walk to work or other locations within a reasonable distance.
  • Organize a neighborhood clean up
  • Use natural cleaners instead of chemicals
  • Invest in rechargeable batteries

Environmentalism is just one of the many ways you can take responsibility for what you take in and put out into the world. We at Conscious Collaborative believe that everyone can take simple steps to do their part with integrity and self-awareness. If you’d like to learn more about how we apply our own principles to the work we do, we recommend you check out our website.