The stigma behind environmentalism / by The Green Medium

It may not come as a surprise to the idea that there is stigma surrounding being an environmentalist. Living in oil-rich Alberta, proclaiming yourself as an environmentalist means treading into potentially dangerous waters ― the risk of being perceived as a radical socialist is quite high, considering the fact that before the economic recession a large chunk of the Albertan population was employed in the oil industry. When you label yourself as an environmentalist in a community that flourishes from practices that damage the environment, it is impossible to escape a certain degree of judgement.

When I tell someone I’m an environmentalist, most people don’t take me seriously. Perhaps this has something to do with the stereotype that environmentalists are either vegan hipsters who read literature in locally owned coffee shops or wealthy philanthropists, and I don’t really fit those stereotypes, although I do enjoy the local coffee scene. The stigma surrounding environmentalism, it seems, is that to be an environmentalist, one must completely trade in their lifestyle, one that relies on convenience and affordability, to one of pricey energy-saving vehicles and time-consuming habits.

In reality, the definition of an environmentalist is simply someone who cares about the environment and makes a conscious effort to reduce their negative impact on the environment. Being an environmentalist does not call for drastic lifestyle changes overnight, nor does it require one to spend more money in order to use fancy environmentally friendly gadgets. Rather, being an environmentalist means doing what you can in order to reduce your environmental impact and acting as an advocate for environmental issues. It means continuing to proclaim yourself as an environmentalist and understanding that economic stability and environmental sustainability are not mutually exclusive.

Reducing the stigma behind environmentalism is crucial in reducing the world’s collective environmental impact. Through education, advocacy, and spreading the idea that being an environmentalist isn’t as hard as it may seem, we can fundamentally change the way society views environmentalism, integrating its concepts and practices into the general population and making environmentalism something that everyone can adapt.

- Jenny Le