“I’m More Sustainable Than You.” How Did the Eco Community Become So Intolerant and Competitive?

“I’m More Sustainable Than You.” How Did the Eco Community Become So Intolerant and Competitive?

Note: This letter from the editor was originally published in our weekly newsletter and is being republished here.

Hey guys,

Lately I’ve been concerned about the lack of empathy and intolerance in the green/eco/left/progressive community.

I’ve observed zero wasters nitpick over a zero waste advocate‘s ‘mistakes’.

I’ve watched as conscious individuals get torn down by others in the community for not doing/saying/buying the ‘right’ eco things.

I’ve witnessed some of my fellow vegans write some hurtful and obnoxious things to members of the green community for eating meat and consuming dairy.

I’ve seen greenies attack people/companies/organisations for not being sustainably perfect.

I’ve watched feminists berate one another for not being intersectional enough.

In my own frustrating discussions with eco ‘extremists’, I’ve rolled my eyes as one accused EWP of endorsing the company Amazon after we shared about the company’s climate action plans as part of our positive Climate Joy series (only an eco extremist can turn positive news into something negative), another eco fundamentalist for saying that ‘travel is not a human right’ and thus concluded people shouldn’t be permitted to fly (despite my protestations that people in parts of the developing world, such as those in my birth country of the Philippines, rely on tourism for survival) and militant vegans for constantly pointing out that animal leather isn’t ethical (how many times must we say that each human values/prioritises different things and ethics is personal in nature?).

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With all the bullying and trollish behaviour from hardcore climate deniers who seem to have found their collective voices after the Global Climate Strike, it bewilders me that those who are trying to make positive changes and using their platforms for good have to expend energy and emotional labour to deal with people WHO ARE MEANT TO BE ON THE SAME SIDE! 

Seriously, what is up with the high and mighty attitude? Aren’t we all fighting for the same cause(s)? Where the heck is the kindness, compassion and empathy in this community? Doesn’t anyone else think that spending time and energy justifying one’s choices to other greenies is just the biggest waste of time?

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Quite frankly, if this is how some in our community behave, I can see why people write off greenies/vegans/lefties, decide to reject this community and embrace conservativism. The bullying, moralising and acting holier than thou because one carries a zero waste kit is annoying AF. And you know what? If Trump wins the US 2020 election, I know exactly where I’ll be pointing my fingers.

If eco fundamentalists and judgemental ‘conscious’ people are becoming overbearing, how do you handle it? Have you experienced intolerance from people in the community too? Would love to hear about your stories and experiences, so feel free to reply to this email.

Anyway, here’s what I’m reading, watching and listening to: 

Podcast Shows / Films:

Women in the era of strongmen, Big Ideas. Populist tough-guy politicians in Russia, South America to the Philippines have been elected. A key feature of their style of leadership is the pushback against women’s rights. Fascinating podcast show if you’re a politico (like I am).

Fed UpFreakonomics. Interview with Mary Daly, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank’s largest branch of San Francisco who thinks the central bank needs to evolve and recognise that the economy is made up of actual people, with you know, real emotions and human problems and that the Fed needs to serve them better.

Omens of a Race WarMaking Sense with Sam Harris. Neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris speaks with Kathleen Belew about the ‘white power’ movement in the US, discussing topics such as white supremacy, white nationalism, white separatism, the Christian identity and the connection between the white power movement and war.


The Power of Protest: A Visual History of the Moments That Changed the World by Brenda Griffing

Articles /Posts:

Scientists booted from Trump’s EPA panel form their own groupThe Hill

Greta Thunberg isn’t the only trailblazing young climate leader. Activists from the Amazon to Nigeria share their ideas for battling the climate crisisInsider

An Increasingly Urbanized Latin America Turns to Electric BusesYale Environment 360

Forever21 just declared bankruptcy, but fast fashion isn’t dead yetFast Company

Eco-fashion brand ‘exaggerated’ credentials, The Ecologist

Artist and Academic Jenny Odell on why we need to learn to do nothing: ‘It’s a reminder that you’re alive’, The Guardian

Now for those of you who are struggling against the nitpickers and eco perfectionists, I empathise and hope you have people and activities you can turn to for support. This post may be of help too

As hard as it may be, let’s try to keep leading by example and continue to inspire those around us with our daily actions, because remember, United we stand, divided we fall.

Peace, love and all that jazz,


Jen xx

p.s. Airbnb and Ocean Conservancy are seeking five volunteers for a once-in-a-lifetime scientific mission to Antartica to collect snow samples and study the extent to which microplastics have made their way to the interior of Antarctica. No experience required, just a passion for the environment and an adventurous spirit. Learn more about this amazing opportunity here.

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Feature image of EWP editor-in-chief Jennifer Nini taken by Ben McGuire.

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