This month we’re going to take a look at some of the awesome campaigns that make up the environmental movement. The environmental movement is as diverse as the people that participate in it. Spanning globally, activists campaign for cleaner air, cleaner seas, protection of our forests, and much more in an attempt to make the world a greener place for ourselves and for future generations.
The first piece of environmental legislation goes way back to the year 676 when Cuthbert of Lindisfarne put into legislation a protection of the birds on the Farne Islands in Northumberland. As the industrial revolution hit the UK, a swathe of environmental activists began to emerge.
Now, environmental activism is a global phenomenon. Fuelled by the rise of technology, activists across the world can come together to put pressure on governments, corporations, institutions, and individuals to commit to a cleaner, greener world.
We’re going to take a look at some of these movements – this is by no means an exhaustive list!
The movement to reduce plastic waste
There are hundreds of campaigns across the world committed to phasing out the use of disposable plastic. And 2018 has seen some huge steps towards this goal in the UK. From Buckingham palace implementing a plan to reduce the use of disposable plastics, to restaurants committing to stop using plastic straws and a ban on microbeads. Now the movement is looking towards calling on big corporations to take the lead on reducing their use of plastics, calling for the government to introduce a deposit return scheme, and encouraging every individual to track their plastic footprint.
The anti-fracking movement
This movement against fracking rapidly emerged as the unconventional oil and gas industry began to develop. Consisting of over 100 local anti-fracking groups, the anti fracking movement have staged protests, direct actions, launched huge petitions and have called on the government to introduce legislation to prevent fracking. In Lancashire, a campaign against fracking has led to huge delays in planned fracking – a huge success for the environmental movement!
Environmental sustainability and anti-racism
The environmental movement cuts across a number of different movements – such as the anti-racism movement. In September 2016 members of anti-racism group Black Lives Matter staged a direct action in London City Airport. The aim was to highlight how the destruction of our environment disproportionately affects black communities, both locally and globally. This weaving of multiple movements together is a powerful way to show solidarity across movements, bringing together millions to commit to change.
The divestment movement
This movement puts pressure on institutions to divest of their investments in fossil fuels. The divestment movement is comprised of a network of campaigners spanning the world, working towards freeing the world of fossil fuels. More than 220 institutions have committed to divesting – including 60 UK Universities – from fossil fuels since the Fossil Free campaign was launched in the UK in 2013. These mass, people-powered campaigns are witnessing huge successes as a result of well-targeted, effective campaigns.
The anti-food waste movement
The UK Government failed to meet its target on household food waste in 2017. Despite the steady continuation of campaigns such as ‘love food, hate waste’, 7.3million tonnes of food was wasted in UK households in 2015. So where does the movement go from here? Campaigns that try to encourage people to reduce their food waste are cropping up and increasing people’s awareness. But we also have to reconcile this with the reality that in the UK we are wasting more food than ever before. However, practical solutions have developed to help stop mass food waste. For example, Winnow capitalises on technological advances by creating a system that allows restaurants to track their food waste, promising that this method of tracking will allow restaurants to cut their food waste by half.
The environmental movement has achieved some huge victories. But as David Attenborough infamously stated at the end of the well-loved television series Blue Planet II, “the future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us.” Collaborating across oceans, utilising technology and raising awareness will allow the environmental movement to thrive and reach its goal.
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