The Politics of Environmentalism

It's time to discuss Capitalism

Which road to take - from

Which road to take - from

by James Guillory, Reporter

The last Climate Strike was on Black Friday, the strikes day leads into the topic of how the environmental movement is affected by America’s Capitalist society.

With an uprising of the VSCO girl trend, there is more attention to the plastic straw movement, which looks to end the use of disposable plastic straws. A movement in which consumers refrain from using plastic straws in order to help ocean life, and thus the planet.

The plastic straw – taken from Jessica Kellgren-Fozards video that speaks on the movement

Straws are targeted for their size, and even corporations such as Starbucks have stopped using them. But an issue lies in the fact that a lack of straws can be damaging to the disabled, and there are many other plastic resources that are not vital to anyone’s lives, such as acrylic nails. 

The plastic straw movement is an example of corporations shift of blame from themselves to the consumers. That isn’t to say using reusable bags and recycling is bad or pointless. “Small movements are raising awareness, which is what we’ve needed for a really long time,” said senior and environmental club member Claire Higgins.

But the world won’t be saved by turning off the heating for a few hours in a day, large institutional and global changes, such as a switch to renewable energy, need to be made. 

“We’ve got to be off of fossil fuels. In what 30 years?” Said environmental instructor, Mr. Wilson, in reference to the projected calamity of our planet by 2050

So why isn’t action being taken? Money. Or well, Capitalism. Large countries like India and China make large amounts of their money from the production and use of Fossil Fuels. America uses large amounts of fossil fuels, to drive our cars and heat our homes, but an average middle-class citizen can’t make the energy switch themselves. It’s upon the billionaires and large business owners who benefit from our capitalist system to do something. But to protect their profits they blame the people, or just deny Climate Change’s existence altogether.

The Cigarette industry – image from Bocconi Students Investment club

There are many similarities between the cigarette industry and the fossil fuel industry. They continue pushing products that they know will harm and kill people. The cigarette industry even used similar tactics of aligning with doctors and denying medical evidence about their products, eventually re-branding their products to be “less harmful”. 

It can often seem hopeless looking into the issues facing us, most feel powerless, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything we can do. We can raise awareness, protest this Black Friday and make ourselves heard. Those of you that can, vote for policymakers who are willing to make the tough decisions to insight real change in this country, and thus, the world. 


“The biggest change I can make is who I vote for in 2020.” – Mr. Wilson