Eco-feminism: The rise of eco-warrior women

July 2021 was the world's hottest month ever recorded. From raging wild fires, to scorching temperatures and tropical storms, this record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe. There has never been a more crucial time to pay attention to the environment. But how can eco-feminism help?


What is eco-feminism?

Eco-feminist activism grew out of the feminist and environmental movements of the 1970s. The term 'eco-feminism' was coined in 1974 by French feminist Francoise d’Eaubonne in her book, “Le Féminisme ou la Mort.”


In her book, d´Eaubonne argues that many parallels exist between the patriarchal suppression of women and the suppression of nature. This suppression, she says, results in environmental destruction


Eco-feminism is a movement that considers climate change, gender equality, and social injustice to be intrinsically related issues, tied to masculine dominance in society. It's a branch of feminism that sees environmentalism and the relationship between women and the Earth as interlinked.


Meet the eco-feminism warriors

Lil Milagro Henriquez

Leading the way in youth climate resilience and mitigation work

Lil Milagro Henriquez grew up in New Orleans and, after witnessing the loss and devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to the environment, thought about the future of climate change.


“We cannot rely on the government to save us," Lil says. "As a community, we need to think about environmental issues that affect us and how we prepare for them.”

Since then, Lil has worked on many social justice issues, including increasing access to higher education for people of colour and those with a low-income, food sovereignty, environmental racism, gender and reproductive rights, union democracy and labour organising.

Lil has always been passionate about working with youth and is determined to be a facilitator for change. Young people, particularly frontline youth of colour, are the most vulnerable to the current and future effects of climate change.


They need to learn how to survive and thrive in a climate challenged world. By using her own expertise in disaster preparation, youth education, and leadership, Lil was determined to fill the critical gap in education and community development for youth. So, in 2017, she founded the Mycelium Youth Network.


“Mycelium Youth Network is predominantly a fem-led company," explains Lil. "Eco-feminism is fused into everything we do and we consistently look at issues with an inter-sectional perspective.


"Women are socialised to lead and evolve a community, and it’s figuring out how to best support them in that."


Mycelium Youth Network is an educational non-profit. It's designed to integrate ancestral traditions and practices that emphasise youth environmental ownership and relationship building alongside hands-on holistic STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) programming. It provides youngsters with the opportunity to learn practical, hands-on skills for climate resilience and mitigation to implement in their homes and local communities.


The goal of Mycelium Youth Network is to empower youth to grow as visionary leaders, connect with ancestral teachings, and trust in the wisdom of the natural world.


“Throughout history, so many great social justice movements have started from the ingenuity and passion of our young people," says Lil. "It’s our responsibility as adults to support them as we all collectively face the trauma and reality of climate change.

“We are living through what some might define as an ongoing climate emergency, and this will only continue for future generations. Instead of only fixating on how to “stop” climate change-related disasters or put our trust in ineffective government bodies, we should think about how we can have community resilience, ingenuity, and wellbeing amidst unpredictable circumstances.”


Find out more about Mycelium Youth Network


Erlene Howard

Educating the public about the importance of reducing landfill use


Erlene Howard is the owner of Collective Resource Compost, a woman-owned compost and food scrap pick-up service based in Evanston.


She initially came to composting through her organic diet. She was teaching someone about raw food prep when they asked her about food scraps to add to their compost bin.


"It inspired me to help people divert their food scraps because I had a problem," says Erlene. "I lived in a condo and wanted to compost but didn't have an outdoor space to do it in. It was at a point in my life where I was looking for more meaningful work.


"I found a solution to all of my problems by creating a container-swap service that made it easy for urban and suburban dwellers in the Chicagoland area to have their food scraps go to a commercial composting site instead of a landfill."


Since its humble beginnings as a small business, the company now services an area of over 50 communities. To date, the company has saved 6650 tons of organic material from landfill. Instead, it can be used as compost and added to soil to help plants grow.


“Though my company is for profit, it is mission-based," explains Erlene. "I have always thought of our planet as Mother Earth. But I also believe that we need both feminine and masculine energy to keep the world in balance.


"In our experience, it's predominantly women who recognise that diverting the food scraps from their households is a good idea. They teach and encourage the others they live with to take part. Composting is part of the circle of life. I think that women naturally feel this circularity because of our menstrual cycles.”


Composting is also a win-win for the planet. It reduces the need for chemical fertilisers and encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus. Humus enriches the soil by greatly increases soil fertility and plant growth. Composting also reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.


Find out more about Collective Resource Compost

 

About Erica Breen


Erica is a life-long mover and forever student. Trained in Pilates, Yoga and Ayurveda, Erica has a breadth of knowledge when it comes to the human body and its inner workings. Leading a nomadic lifestyle, you'll find Erica sharing her work online from all over the world! Find out more at ericabreenpilates.com.

 

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