I’ve been kind of discombobulated over the past week for a number of reasons, but I really do want to kick myself for forgetting to write up a post about this.
Assuming that you’re rightly angered by the injustice of Darren Wilson’s GJ non-indictment, and the continuing police brutality in response to protests, then you might be interesting to know that Black Friday boycott could have been an act of solidarity with the movement, who asked that #NotOneDime be spent last friday, and IF you couldn’t help yourself, that you spend that dime at a black-owned business.
Many others called for boycotting the entire weekend, including Cyber Monday, and some even asked that none of the rest of your holiday shopping be done at a big box store or the likes of Amazon.
Why, though? What does Walmart or the local shopping mall have to do with justice for Mike Brown? And what does it have to do with environmentalism and the zero waste ethic?
First of all, consumerism has a helluva lot to do with racism in America. The same machine that would rather destroy excess product that a store can’t sell instead of giving it to the needy is the same machine that builds for-profit prisons, is the same machine that instates racial profiling and racist stop-and-frisk policies, is the same machine that will let white (rich) people off the hook for the same crime that a black or brown person is put away for years for, is the same machine that benefits from selling poor communities of color toxic, disposable goods because it’s not profitable to put good quality reusables into their hands, is the same machine that relocates good jobs out of those communities and replaces them with Walmart jobs and SNAP benefits.
It is the same machine that prioritizes profits over people. And if manufacturing garbage (metaphorical and literal) is what makes money, then by god there will be garbage.
And as for environmentalism, poverty is bad for your health, sure, but the corporate leviathan that enables poverty is what generates the most toxic waste. When was the last time you saw someone from the lower or working class driving a Prius or a Tesla? When figuring out how to feed their family on a SNAP budget, can you really expect a poor parent to shell out for organic apples at $3/lb when you can get your kids twice the calories for the same price if you bought them something unhealthy, processed, and littered with GMO ingredients? Sure, a salad is obviously the better option– but if you have to choose between eating healthy and not going to bed hungry, I think you know which one you’d choose. There is also something called environmental racism (which I’ll touch on in the next post), which is more or less the systemic, historical discrimination that has resulted in more than half of the communities of color in the US to be located near a chemically hazardous area (or a “cancer alley”) that has a tremendous negative impact on both the environment around that community and the health of its residents.
According to my zero waste ethic, no person, no identity, no community should be considered “a waste”, and no environment or region should be allowed to be used as a dumping ground for anybody, no matter how remote or economically weak that region is. Likewise, the prison-industrial complex, which is akin to modern-day slavery and targets a tremendously disproportionate number of black and brown people, destroys communities and wreaks havoc on the lives of the people it swallows up. The prison-industrial complex is incredibly wasteful and cares only about profits. The last of my 5 R’s, too, is Reclaim: this isn’t about just reclaiming poor soil, or turning scraps into more food via chickens or compost or what have you, but it is about reclaiming neighborhoods from wasteful policing, reclaiming identities and livelihoods from ruthless corporatism that seeks to commodify our self-esteem and our happiness, reclaiming our government from wasteful bureaucracy, and reclaiming ourselves from consumerist, profiteering, and capitalist values.