Seeing green: A call for interdependence as we question our independence

July 7, 2022 • Stories About WRISE

As a woman in what is now a post-Roe America, any attempt to celebrate our nation’s independence this weekend felt like yet another punch in the gut. I know I’m not alone because I saw the hashtag of the Women’s March and the calls to wear green and march.

Wearing green began with the powerful movement in Argentina that improved access to safe and legal abortion. This movement has spread around the world, and now finds itself in the United States as we must stand up yet again in what feels like an unending battle for our rights and our bodily autonomy.

It has never been easy being green and in two of the recent critical US Supreme Court decisions, we can see the vital connection between the protection of bodily autonomy and the protection of the environment. In the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning Roe v Wade, the court put the rights of the unborn ahead of the rights of the mother and in the WVA v EPA decision they put the rights of a corporation ahead of the rights of our Mother Earth.

The relationship between the right to bodily autonomy and the right to environmental protections seems clear to me, but this link becomes muddied as I watch social media battles over the language of “my body my choice” and whether that means my right to abortion or my right to not wear a mask in public. I’m struck by the dissonance of these two arguments and the extreme focus on our individual rights. Yes, this is America and we claim to believe in liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But where our individual rights always get messy is when we have to figure out how to live with and amongst each other – we know that focusing solely on individual rights only leads to the tragedy of the commons, but with interdependence we can balance the importance of our autonomy with a long-term accountability to our communities – taking steps to recognize how our own actions help or hurt our community and how to account for the consequences in both our individual decision-making and our communal laws.

Through the Supreme Court’s decision to prioritize the individual rights of states and corporations over interdependence, they have actively chosen a short-sighted path of domination. When we can’t get behind paid parental leave as a country, when we can’t pass protections for breastfeeding in the workplace, when we have few supports to reduce the costs of childcare, when we can’t keep our children safe in the classroom, and when we can’t protect Black and brown lives across this country, it is clear that the priority is not the health and happiness of families and their children, but rather domination, disempowerment, and isolation. This is to the long-term detriment of our entire society, an opportunity cost that can’t be denied – when women and other marginalized genders have the resources, information, advocates and community they need to make their own reproductive choices, their communities thrive.

When we refuse to acknowledge the reality of climate change and continue to suggest that taking action to reduce our impacts on the planet are an undue burden on corporations, we not only choose domination, exploitation, and extinction, we face another opportunity cost – missing the opportunity to build a stronger economy accelerating the transition to a more just, equitable, and sustainable future.

If you work in the renewable energy or sustainability sector you have worked with colleagues that have had abortions, colleagues that have had miscarriages, colleagues that have been raped, have struggled with infertility, frozen embryos or had children through IVF, and colleagues that have wrestled with the decision of when to become a parent. The addition of laws that restrict reproductive choices or criminalize pregnancy at minimum cause emotional and financial burden but could ultimately cost your colleagues their lives.

If you are outraged about either of these court decisions, I hope you are outraged about both. The right to reproductive choice is intimately interconnected to our ability to defend the rights and future of our planet and to build the diverse workforce we need to create that future.

Our collective voices are needed as always. It is time to demand the future we want and need and make sure everyone understands how important and fundamental it actually should be to be green.

Resources

Actions for Individuals

Educate yourself, vote, speak up, amplify, and donate.

Actions for Companies and Organizations

Educate your team – especially your leadership. Trust, respect, and support your employees. Speak up and advocate for change. Consider opportunities for corporate giving and commitments.

  • Expand healthcare for employees with attention to safe access to abortion, gender-inclusive care, travel costs for health/procedure and protecting employee privacy
  • Examining and re-evaluate your data privacy policies
  • Implement strong paid parental leave policies
  • Advocate at the state and national level to support reproductive choice, parental leave, breastfeeding protections, child care support, and other programs that support working families
  • Support remote work – people considering turning down their dream jobs because they fear the consequences of living in the state where that company is based