Eco-Feminism: What It Is and Why You Should Care

Happy Earth Day 2014!

So, I’m sure most of you are wondering what the heck “Eco-Feminism” is and why a feminist magazine is writing for Earth Day.

I bet you never thought that the oppression of women and environmental issues were connected, huh?

How Stuff Works defines eco-feminism as follows:

Eco-feminism embraces the idea that the oppression of women and the oppression or destruction of nature are closely connected.

Seems pretty random, right? How is there a connection between women and nature?

Well, its no secret how the state of our environment is fairing today. If you haven’t heard, it’s pretty horrible.

Some quick facts:

• There are 5 gyres in our seas today. A gyre is a literal island of debris and plastic. There is one in the pacific ocean that is twice the size of Texas. An island. Of plastic. Twice the size of Texas. Twice.

• Global warming is making Earth’s climate rapidly warmer. If the climate increases by 1º, thousands upon thousands of homes in Bengal will be flooded, hurricanes will run rampant in the South Atlantic, and droughts will create massive food shortages in the U.S. Just one measly degree.

• If everyone lived the same as Americans, we would need 4 to 5 Earths to sustain that lifestyle. Bad news, we only have 1.

Definitely not an ideal situation.

Because most pollution and output does not stay localized, our trash gets sent out all over the world. Most of the time, the poorest people in the world end up dealing with these issues. These people are the ones whose fish are contaminated with plastic and whose homes are at risk from rising water levels and numerous other potential disasters.

Meanwhile, women make up the largest demographic of those living in poverty in the world. Of the world’s poor, women make up 70%.

Traditionally, women are the main gatherers of food, water, and fuel. This is still true in underdeveloped countries, meaning these women are most directly affected by the harsh pollutants that contaminate our air, water, and land.

One prime example of this is in Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO’s. GMO’s are foods whose genetics have been altered to be more resistant and grow more cheaply. However, the health value of these foods is extremely questionable because they have numerous chemicals and growth hormones.

FEM’s Quarterly issue featured an article entitled “Genetically Modified Foods: A Feminist Issue,” which states:

“While genetically modified foods, namely salmon, affect all people living on the planet in some way, it affects certain groups of people differently and/or in a more severe way. Such populations of people include those in developing countries, for instance. But in the United States, the face of poverty has increasingly become women of color, often a single mother or head of the household who is the primary source of the families income. Feminist scholars have named this phenomenon of women disproportionately representing the world’s poor as the feminization of poverty.”

Environmental issues are women’s issues. So many women are affected by these issues everyday as their livelihoods and health suffer. The air and water we pollute doesn’t simply affect the sites of pollution. Often, pollution travels and hurts those incapable of avoiding it. Most of these people also just so happen to be women.

There you go, ecofeminism in a nutshell.

So now that you know, here are some easy ways you can help:

1. Turn Off Computers at Night.

I know its hard, but the distance will do you some good. Leaving your computer on sleep burns extra watts at night for no reason. Shut it down, and start getting cheap on that electric bill.

2. Meatless Mondays.

There is so much water, energy, and land used to raise the enormous amount of meat the American diet demands. Help ease this by going meatless at least once a week. UCLA’s Bruins For Animals are trying to get Meatless Mondays initiated. The planet (and cows) thanks you.

3. Reusable Waterbottle.

Plastic, plastic everywhere and so little recycled. Its a problem. Just get reusable. Don’t make me beg. (Begging: get it).

4. Buy Local.

One weekend, try buying local foods and go join your hipster friends at the local farmer’s market. Buying local helps reduce transport pollution. UCLA actually has a farmer’s market on campus, check it out!

5. Take Public Transport.

Come on, going from Westwood to Santa Monica? The Big Blue Bus is your friend.

Earth and its inhabitants thank you.


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