What does it mean to be an environmentalist?

by Jason on April 23, 2012

Happy (belated) Earth Day everyone! I hope you all celebrated with some good old fashion greening.

I was volunteering on Earth Day at Full Circle Farm where I was able to chat up with other people who share the same values. Simple values, really: walkable, sustainable neighborhoods with access to open space, safe healthful foods, and community engagement opportunities for all. These seem like great must-haves for any community, but doesn’t it sound a bit… green?

Studying urban planning and being involved with organizations such as the Greenbelt Alliance and the Committee for Green Foothills, I realize I have been becoming more of an environmentalist. I didn’t always consider myself as such, and it’s hard for me to put myself in the same category as those who tirelessly advocate for sustainable development, the preservation of open space and wildlife, and for demanding changes that would allow us to better steward the planet that we are borrowing from our children.

However, the perception of being an environmentalist does not have to be so extreme. What is an environmentalist anyways? It is similar to the definition of being a feminist. An environmentalist (clumping together those who which for a more sustainable urban future) are those who consider the preservation of the environment, sustainable practices, and smart use of natural resources as an important value to possess. Admittedly, I do not have the fortitude to do what those courageous advocates at Greenpeace is able to do, but I do have my own moments of doing what I can to reduce my carbon footprint.

It has been small changes, but this is what I’ve been doing:

  • Using reusable shopping bags (more of a mandatory change as San Jose has banned plastic bags)
  • Being more contentious of recycling
  • Posting and promoting environmental and sustainable wins in the community on social media outlets
  • Joining “green” organizations
  • Being more aware of packaging that comes with food
  • Doing my best to not litter
  • Taking public transit and walking more
  • Eating less meat
  • Making an effort to learn more about the green space in the Bay Area
These changes aren’t big on its own, but worth celebrating as they are changes we can and have made.
As we reflect on Earth Day, let’s ask ourselves, what have we already been doing for our community and planet to make it more sustainable and environmentally prosperous? Now congratulate yourself at the progress and continue to do good work.

Would love to hear some of the things you have been doing!

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