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Intersectional Environmentalism

What Is Intersectional Environmentalism?

Written by: Natalie Henderson, Marketing associate @blueland

February 17, 2021

At Blueland, we are committed to not only protecting the planet, but also protecting its people. We’re on a mission to help eliminate single-use plastics from our everyday products in an effort to help create a cleaner future. As part of our vision for the future, we believe in an inclusive and intersectional environmental movement.

What Is Intersectional Environmentalism?

Intersectional environmentalism is a specific approach to environmentalism that seeks to center the stories and voices of marginalized communities in addition to the mainstream environmental movement. The term was popularized by environmental activist Leah Thomas, or @greengirlleah on Instagram who was inspired by the term “intersectionality” coined by Kimberle Crenshaw (https://www.law.columbia.edu/faculty/kimberle-w-crenshaw) in the 1980’s. Crenshaw coined the term as part of her study and work in Critical Race Theory to describe the convergence of racial and gender prejudice.

Thomas has adapted this term to fit within the context of the environmental movement. In her words (https://www.intersectionalenvironmentalist.com/), “This is an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are interconnected. It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the earth, to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality. Intersectional environmentalism advocates for justice for people + the planet.” This adaptation of intersectionality as it relates to the environmental movement moves beyond just race and gender and seeks to include all aspects of identity.

What Does The Current Environmental Movement Look Like?

You might be wondering, why is taking an intersectional approach to environmentalism so important? The mainstream environmental movement is incredibly popular. However, it typically is centered around white voices and white audiences (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/environmental-movement-very-white-these-leaders-want-change-that). The mainstream movement often excluded voices from BIPOC communities, even though those communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change and climate related disasters around the world.

BIPOC activists are making a push for recognition, not only for their voices but for the disproportionate burden (https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/06/29/climate-change-racism/) that BIPOC communities bear when it comes to climate change. So who are some of leaders of this movement?

5 Activists Who Champion the Intersection Environmental Movement

There are countless BIPOC environmental activists and advocates out there, and the Intersectional Environmental Movement is only helping to bring these environmentalists to the center of the movement. Here are 5 activists working on social media to promote intersectional environmentalism right now:

1. Leah Thomas (https://www.instagram.com/greengirlleah/), founder @intersectionalenvironmentalist

2. Jamie Margolin (https://www.instagram.com/jamie_s_margolin/), co-director, Zero Hour

3. Wawa Gatheru (https://www.instagram.com/wawa_gatheru/), founder @BlackGirlEnvironmentalist

4. Jordan Daniel (https://www.instagram.com/nativein_la/), @nativeinLA

5. Isaias Hernandez (https://www.instagram.com/queerbrownvegan/), @QueerBrownVegan

How Can You Support The Intersectional Environment Movement?

  • Support BIPOC climate activists through following and engaging with the information they share
  • Get involved:
  1. Sign petitions
  2. Share information
  3. Start conversations with family and friends
  • Educate yourself on climate issues that face BIPOC communities

Learn more about climate issues impacting BIPOC communities (https://blog.blueland.com/solutions-to-climate-crisis-with-summer-dean/) and learn more about Black Environmentalists (https://blog.blueland.com/16-black-environmentalists-you-should-know-about/)!

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