Without community care, there is no environmental justice.
We’re all connected. To each other, and to all living beings that call Earth home. Without plants that filter water and breathe out oxygen, we wouldn’t survive. Without farmworkers, educators, healthcare workers, and artists, we wouldn’t thrive. In order to live through the climate crisis, we must remain rooted in our connectedness and take care of the communities that take care of us.
Small Business Supports Community
As a small business, we rely on community. Both plant and human communities make Meow Meow Tweet possible. Our products are inherently rooted in ecosystems as well as the legacies of the plants we use. From the people who grow and process our ingredients to those who make and sell our soaps—we wouldn’t exist without community.
Community care is central to our brand values. We can’t call something sustainable if people aren’t taken care of. That’s why we prefer to work with small, organic farmers and family-owned operations. Fair wages, appropriate working conditions, and fair pricing are all non-negotiable aspects of our business, as is using our platform to amplify and give back to local grassroots activists.
Shopping with small businesses means supporting community care. When we buy from local farmers or from our local, indie food coop instead of getting imported produce at Whole Foods, we support the health of air, water, and soil in our region. When we frequent family-owned coffee shops instead of Starbucks, we support the livelihoods of people in our community. When we shop at local stores instead of ordering on Amazon, we reduce our carbon footprint and develop relationships with our neighbors.
Environmental Justice = Community Care
As we discussed in our blog, Shopping Will Not Save the Planet, we can’t buy our way out of the climate crisis. True environmental justice demands a drastic reorganization of our systems. It means protecting the planet by protecting people first.
Oil wells and pipelines don’t just harm ecosystems, they also harm communities. Pollution is linked to respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung cancer. Storms, wildfires, and floods are already destroying people’s homes and livelihoods. Heatwaves, droughts, and invasive pests are making it harder for people and crops to survive. Environmental justice reminds us that exploitative policies and climate disasters often affect our Black, Brown, poor, and rural communities first, and worst.
Meanwhile, billionaires are allowed to exploit both land and people in the name of furthering their own wealth. That wealth buys them protection and comfort while everyone else pays the price for their overconsumption and carbon emissions.
What if instead of going along with these systems of extraction, we spent money within our communities, got to know our neighbors, and started taking care of each other instead?
“Community care is a form of environmental justice, especially when it comes to feeding children. From 1969 to 1980 the Black Panthers fed children breakfast in West Oakland every morning. In a US Senate hearing, the National School Lunch Program administrator admitted that the Black Panthers fed more poor school children than the State of California. The Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast program led to the expansion of the national School Breakfast Program by congress in 1975.”—Teju Adisa Farrar, writer, geographer, and poet, written for Earth In Color
Community care means creating systems that meet everyone’s basic needs, including healthcare, housing, food, and community. We don’t have to wait for the government to change in order to start meeting those needs. We can help each other, divest from exploitative corporations, and work together to build community power and resilience.
What Community Care Looks Like
The planet has enough resources to sustain us all, but only if we share. Climate disasters, hunger, and poverty are each a result of our capitalist society that’s designed to extract profit out of people and the land. But this economy of scarcity isn’t the only way.
Human societies have been built on community care before, and we can practice it again. Instead of heroizing individuality and forcing people to rely on the “convenience” that multinational corporations provide, we can support each other, share what we have, and work together to get what we need as a collective. The act of redistributing resources helps us rediscover the abundance that already exists in our communities.
Community care looks like mutual aid. It looks like sharing knowledge, tools and resources, and offering a helping hand when people are in need. Mutual aid can be as small as cooking a meal, or as large as offering someone a place to stay in your house.
Community care also looks like carpooling, childcare, getting to know your neighbors, or planting a shared garden. Shopping with small, local businesses instead of international chain stores keeps financial resources in your community, and out of the pockets of billionaire CEOs. Joining a neighborhood association or forming a political advocacy group means investing time and care into the conversations that decide what your community will look like in the future.
Building and caring for community is an exercise in optimism, radical imagination, and collective action. It provides us with a sense of connection and belonging while simultaneously making our daily lives easier and more enjoyable. Community care is an essential step that opens up new pathways towards a liveable and abundant future.
Community Care is Sustainability
Trees and mushrooms show us the beautiful impacts of community care. While forests may seem like a collection of individual trees, they are usually one giant living organism. Roots and mycelium weave an intricately connected network between trees, allowing them to communicate and share resources with one another. Trees can emit chemical signals that warn their companions of disease or infestation, and older trees can send nutrients to nourish saplings nearby. When we see individual trees flourishing or mushrooms fruiting, what we are actually seeing is the collective effort of the community web working beneath the soil.
Shopping small and mutual aid may not seem like big enough solutions to a global climate and economic crisis, but they can be a microcosm of the greater picture. Like mushrooms and trees, the flourishing of one community is inevitably the result of many more communities working and thriving behind the scenes. Just as we are interconnected individually, our communities are also connected.
Written By Faye Lessler