As the world continues to experience worsening environmental problems such as pollution, deforestation, and climate change, and as more people become severely affected by the denigration of nature, the need for strategic and genuine social change with regards to the structural policies of states around the world grows more urgent.
And yet, even in the University of Philippines where people are expected to be critical thinkers and social movers, people tend to butcher environmentalism with their reformist (read: cosmetic) notions. To focus on nothing but cosmetic projects like tree planting, PR stunts, biking gimmicks or segregation campaigns are concrete examples of efforts that go down the drain for their failure to address the social roots of these problems. For how exactly can the planting of a handful of tree seedlings be of use when thousands are torn down by large-scale logging companies every day? Can a segregation campaign help prevent the mass, non-segregated collection and dumping of urban trash everyday in cramped landfills?
For as long as environmentalism is considered as nothing but a lifestyle and is extolled through the promotion of individualist efforts, genuine change will remain to be a pipe dream, and these reformists will serve as nothing but appendages of the eco-destructive establishment. Let us remember that it is these transnational companies themselves, such as petroleum giant Exxon, who are the prime string-pullers in reformist environmentalism – espousing corporate environmentalism and lobbying in the government, all in the intention to either utilize environmentalism as a means for profitable ends, or to neuter state policies on the environment that damage their profits.
The only genuine form of environmentalism – especially in a neo-colonial nation like the Philippines – is one that takes direct action in addressing both the immediate environmental issues and its root causes. Those genuinely concerned with the environment are enjoined to comprehensively participate in environmental movements that serve to arouse, organize and mobilize stakeholders in these issues to participate in information campaigns with a proactive character, mass demonstrations, legislative actions and other concrete methodologies to achieve eco-sustainability in the Philippines.
For collective action has been historically proven in practice to be the best weapon the people have in addressing social ills – environmental concerns are no exceptions to this. For so long as we remain restricted to the limitations that the status quo imposes upon us, so long as we remain armchair environmentalists that engage only in face-value gimmickry, we will remain not green enough for the responsibilities we have of ensuring an environmentally-sustainable future.