June 03, 2011

Being a 'Good Environmentalist' in Kenya

American goes to work in Kenya and discovers that things are different there:
On the micro-level, environmentalism as an intentional set of individual choices is largely absent from Kenyan life; that is, choices made specifically because they are more ecologically sustainable. There is, of course, a class dynamic at play: as Maathai has pointed out, poorer people who must focus on their immediate needs are far less likely to consider choices where the environmental benefit is long-term. At the same time, many day-to-day Kenyan habits, like sharing clothing and buying seasonal food directly from the local market, are prevalent not because they are fashionable or because of any particular ecological concern, but because it is simply the most affordable and reasonable thing to do.

Still, from one who comes from an American sensibility of trying to integrate my eco-beliefs into my daily habits, adapting to life in Kenya means adapting to an environment where it is harder—for me, at least—to be "good.” There are, simply, different choices that are available.
It's an interesting read about what happens when one's assumptions bump into different realities.

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