Written by Theo Carr, ESLLC 2017-2018
Environmental movements have only been given visibility for about sixty years, but the number of people involved is growing rapidly. The concerned populous has been strengthened by loud voices from young people, especially student activists. These passionate students come from all walks of life and social backgrounds, but still commit to their movements because they believe that their contribution can make a difference. But that participation is not an option for everyone, especially for people of lower socioeconomic status. Therefore, environmental sustainability and social justice movements are intrinsically linked because people cannot care about the ecosystem when they are concerned for their own survival.
Advocating for socioeconomic opportunities leads to environmental sustainability by enabling people to amass enough resources to be stable. If someone is unable to obtain enough money to buy food for themselves to eat daily, then they are unlikely to choose to spend that money donating to green organizations or buying products from companies that are sustainably run. This is because current food resources available tend to be less expensive the more sustainably they are produced. Establishments like the McDonalds fast-food chain can afford to produce food items that are extraordinarily cheap compared to any organic farming option. This rule applies to other products as well. Automobile makers like Tesla are choosing to make newer electric cars that are very environmentally sustainable compared to their gasoline run counterparts. Unfortunately, the price difference between a car that is run using electricity and one that is run using gasoline is currently very large. That difference makes obtaining a car that runs cleaner and for longer not an option for people who cannot afford it.
Environmental sustainability is unquestioningly linked to the socioeconomic status of people. If someone does not have the time or money to devote to a sustainable cause or company, then they are forced to spend those things as if they are not passionate about preserving the environment. So in order to encourage more people to be environmentally conscious, the socioeconomic discrepancy in our society must first be addressed.