“I don’t care how green you are.”​

by | June 21, 2019


The following is the concluding section from a recent article by Mary Annaïse Heglar, “I work in the environmental movement. I don’t care if you recycle”.

By and large, she captures how I feel about the climate movement and the attitude we need to adopt.

(This piece partially inspired that poem I wrote a few weeks ago.)


I Don’t Care

Here’s my confession: I don’t care how green you are. I want you in the movement for climate justice.

I don’t care how long you’ve been engaged in the climate conversation, 10 years or 10 seconds. I don’t care how many statistics you can rattle off. I don’t need you to be all-solar-everything to be an environmentalist. I don’t need you to be vegan-er than thou, or me, for that matter. I don’t care if you are eating a burger right this minute.

I don’t even care if you work on an oil rig. In some parts of the country, those are the only jobs that pay enough for you to feed your family. And I don’t blame workers for that. I blame their employers. I blame the industry that is choking us all, and the government that is letting them do it.

All I need you to do is want a livable future. This is your planet, and no one can advocate for it like you can. No one can protect it like you can.

We have 11 years — not to start but to finish saving the planet.

I’m not here to absolve you. And I’m not here to abdicate you. I am here to fight with you.

– Mary Annaïse Heglar


That stands alone really well. But here are some thoughts to back it up.

It’s not our fault we live in a totally unsustainable system. We inherited it.

Therefore, I don’t believe it’s fair to shame anyone simply for existing in the system. We need to be inclusive and understanding. We need to move beyond this “environmental” label and welcome everyone into this movement. If someone wants a livable future, they are on our team.

People can help with systemic change whether or not they’re green. And if they become a little more sustainable along the way, great, but it shouldn’t be the barrier to entry it’s often messaged and perceived as.

An Interesting Study

As I mentioned in this interview, a recent study (based on Project Drawdown data) concluded that individual actions alone could reduce 20% to 37% of greenhouse gas emissions.

On the one hand, that’s great and we should do what we can to minimize our personal footprints because it does make a difference – but more importantly, it means that just focusing on your individual footprint alone is not good enough.

We need systemic change to eliminate the other 63% to 80% of emissions.

To achieve systemic change we need a large movement. We need a lot of people stepping up and changing the way we do things at a systems-level because business as usual – the status quo, or anything close to it, is not a viable option if we want a livable future.

“When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We’, even the illness becomes wellness.” – Malcolm X


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