Fellow Story

Gutierrez op-ed: We must take care not to ‘greenwash’ environmental justice

Fellow(s): Grant Gutierrez

Grant Gutierrez published an op-ed in the South Seattle Emerald entitled “We must take care not to ‘greenwash’ environmental justice”. 

He writes that “as environmental justice goes mainstream, environmental justice advocates and practitioners must remain grounded in our political history and steadfast in our commitments to advancing outcomes and solutions, not just improving processes.”

The op-ed examines reasons for the “renaissance” of environmental justice since 2020 and its history of being “overlooked and marginalized by the mainstream environmental movement”. 

“As the idea of environmental justice goes mainstream, some advocates are concerned the movement will be co-opted by powerful interests, such as corporations and government agencies, that will use it as a way to deflect criticism and maintain the status quo. This is not an unfounded fear. History has shown that social movements can be co-opted by those in power who use the language of justice and equality to advance their own interests,” Grant writes.  

Read the full piece for an exploration of this concern and others, as well as suggestions for “what can be done to address these concerns and ensure the environmental justice movement remains true to its roots”.  

“To build more just environmental futures and seize on the current and exciting momentum for environmental justice, we must remain grounded in the political history of the movement with a focus on changing outcomes for those most impacted by environmental harm.”

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