By Lynn Sawyer | August 2010

The title of this piece is utterly logical, consistent and obvious to me but to some activists fighting for animal liberation it is not so. My, hopefully very simple task, is therefore to put my case as to why environmentalism is integral to our cause and should go beyond just being vegan.

First off the environment is everything, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the views we see, the sounds we hear all can impact for good or ill on our health, our well-being our very survival and the well-being and survival or every living creature. Our species sees itself as above creation and the earth as something to plunder, to turn into things humans can use and then spew out as pollution.

First of all we go to for example a forest to mine aluminium, the trees are cut down, holes dug , rivers and earth polluted and the metal extracted, it goes back to make cans for drinks which are then drunk and discarded. An animal rights issue? Absolutely. What happens first of all is that the beings living in those trees which are cut down are dispersed, any young creatures unable to move are killed as the trees fall. Those who escape then encroach on the territories of others, or starve, or are killed as “pests”. The pollution flowing down the river kills fish and other beings in their multitudes and on up the food chain. On the chain of destruction goes until some lazy scumbag throws the can down where it acts as a very efficient trap for small creatures who once inside cannot get out and starve and thirst to death after days of utter terror.

If I find the constant orange glow at night from towns and cities soul sapping then how do wild nocturnal creatures have their lives diminished? If I find that fireworks at midnight alarm me then how much worse is it for our wild brethren? If I choke when passing a field just sprayed with pesticide how much worse must it be for a young leveret in the centre of that field? There is nothing creepier than a blackbird singing at 03.00 in the morning with all natural rhythms destroyed by us.

We humans directly kill billions of other beings on purpose, billions more die as a result of environmental degradation and inadvertently. Right now albatross chicks are choking to death on plastic, mice are trapped inside plastic bottles in hedgerows, fish are born deformed, animals are dying in agony with shattered limbs from human machinery and transport. Birds fly into pylons and how common it is to see the trail of death on our roads with the dying often left by the side maybe for hours before death ends their suffering. We know what happens to humans when pesticides blow across the fields, Benlate caused children to be born without eyes, DDT is a carcinogen. Whilst we have a health service and ways to help those affected, wild creatures do not, neither do they tell us of their suffering. The plunge in the wild bird population which led to Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book “Silent Spring” warning of how pesticides were wiping out millions of creatures is no less chilling than what happens in the slaughterhouse if you think about it.

Pesticides, GM foods, artificial sweeteners, colours and additives are all tested on other animals at places like HLS. Global warming threatens us as humans last and if you are a climate change denier George Monbiot’s book “Heat” sacred the living snot out of me so it might be of interest. The first casualties of climate change are non human animals. Again depletion in fresh water will affect us last and other animals first and water is not just what we use in our homes, it is essential for manufacturing everything. When we for example buy a cotton dress the water to irrigate the cotton crop is diverted from people who need it let alone the wild animals who cannot complain.

I am not suggesting that we divert our time from animal liberation to environmental issues even though spending a little time on environmental campaigns can lead to productive skills and ideas sharing (peace and environmental activists have excellent blockading skills). What I am suggesting is an attitude of environmental awareness and actions which take no time, save money and lessen our impact on the earth so that others can enjoy their lives and indeed simply live, I think that this is something we learn and I have much to learn but here are some suggestions I have picked up from others, I do not claim to be a paragon of virtue though!

    • Get second hand if you can.
    • Swap clothes, adjust and/or make clothes.
    • Share tools and other resources with neighbours and friends, make sure you return stuff.
    • Buy local, organic, fair-trade wherever possible.
    • Do not use new carrier bags, always carry a cloth one or an old plastic one if a shop assistant goes on to triple wrap an item in plastic say “no thanks”. That plastic will still be around centuries later. AVOID!
    • Buy things with as little wrapping as possible.
    • Avoid supermarkets just read “Tescopoly” by Andrew Simms explains all really, they want a monopoly on every thing we buy.
    • Do use small local shops/ farmers markets.
    • Do not drive if your journey is only a couple of miles.
    • Get free food from skips, grow your own.
    • Use stuff e.g. paint which is as non toxic as possible there are even paint banks with partially used paint cans.
    • Recycle everything you can remember if something is recycled, less needs to be mined, less animals die.
    • Do not fly unless you really have to.
    • Use as little water and electricity as you can, turn things off do not leave anything on standby keep the heating down, wash clothes on a lower setting. Look at energy saving things such as insulating your home.
    • Repair broken things rather than buying new.
    • NEVER EVER DROP LITTER and if you see anyone else doing it challenge them. Crisp packets, cans and bottles can act as traps for hundreds of years, this is as much an animal rights issue as glue traps.
    • Never leave glass it tears apart the paws of dogs, cats and wild creatures. It can kill through blood loss and infection. Dispose of it safely.
    • As someone said to me recently why worry about not wearing wool when cotton is sprayed with pesticides and harvested with slave labour? Second hand or fair trade and organic is probably better than buying from Primark.
    • Do not use peat it is from peat bogs which are an ecosystem under grave threat, use home grown compost instead (my local council sell compost from peelings etc at the local tip).
    • Spread the word about veganism which is the most efficient way of feeding the human population, protecting the environment and will free up land and water for wild animals.

Having said all this please do prioritise security over recycling. For example leaving bank statements out for recycling might give the local hunt, police and burglars information you would rather they did not have, burn it. In fact a woodburner is a good way of keeping warm and getting rid of bits of paper in a more environmentally friendly way.

Keep green, safe and free to continue whatever good work you do.