Pride in Our Planet
Pride season may be at its peak, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go all out for sustainability. If you don’t know already, Pride is essentially a month-long event celebrating the self-affirmation, achievements, dignity, and equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. It also serves as a way to increase representation of LGBTQ+ humans, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. In 1969, homosexuality was illegal in every state until the Stonewall riots (check out this PBS documentary) became a catalyst for the modern gay rights movement. The Uprising at the Stonewall Inn was a proclamation of positive change in the United States and around the world. This year, WorldPride’s Pride March is on Sunday, June 30th, 2019, at 26th Street & 5th Avenue, New York City, NY. Not only will it commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall, but it is a live monument of gay rights, freedom, and acceptance.
You probably skipped a few sentences if you’re a history buff, but what you might not know is that the green stripe in the gay pride flag is more than just a pretty color. The color green is a symbol of nature. It’s likely that it denotes our sexual and gender identities as being natural, but it’s also the literal representation of environmental activism. Community leaders like Harvey Milk championed environmental sustainability along with gay rights. That was in the ‘70s. But why should 2019 be any different? We need to continue to fight for our planet and for the people on it, now more than ever.
Since 2008, OUT for Sustainability has been the leading (and only) LGBTQ nonprofit dedicated to bridging queer identity and sustainability values. They pledge to make a difference as the voice of LGBTQ sustainability values by speaking at conferences around the country and writing for (and being featured in) publications around the world. Last year, founder of OUT4S Gerod Rody was interviewed by The Advocate on How to Have an Eco Friendly Pride. With this organization putting the spotlight on having a #PlasticFreePride this year, I couldn’t help but be inspired by it. And then, I was extremely disappointed by the amount of rubbish left by festival goers at Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival this year. So, here it is: if you’re going to Pride this year, take this sustainable advice before you go!
Being green begins before Pride even starts.
Show Your (Eco-Conscious) Colors
When finding a fabulous fit for Sunday, remember this: every time you spend your money, you cast a vote for the kind of world you want. This very much includes fashion. Wear clothes (or don’t wear much, even better!) that are sustainable, rather than from fast fashion brands like H&M, Forever21, or Zara. At minimum, if you are buying a brand new outfit, make sure it’s one that you won’t throw in your closet once the season’s over!
Get Creative With Alternatives
Plastic beads, balloons, glitter? So Pride 2018! Not to mention: toxic to the environment. Glitter in particular, Insider reported earlier this year, is a microplastic that harms marine life. When glitter is washed down the drain, it can be swallowed by fish, plankton, and even birds. These animals can be poisoned, or die from starvation, as a result. Through the food chain, these microplastics can actually end up on your plate. You should avoid glitter at all costs this year, or use biodegradable glitter. For those last finishing touches, try wearing natural body paint, fresh flowers (or lei necklaces), and/or other reclaimed materials.
Think About How You’re Getting There
An estimated 4.5 million people will attend WorldPride this year. “Imagine if [all of them] showed up on foot.” says OUT4S’s Rody. You can be more environmentally responsible by planning your trip so that you get to the March in the greenest way possible. Reduce your carbon footprint by taking transit (we recommend NYC subway), biking (try CitiBike), or walking (wear comfy shoes!) to your destination. If you must drive, try to fill up every seat in your car. Offer to ride share with friends, family, or other Pride goers. However, parking will be hard to come by (and expensive), so plan accordingly!
What to Do During
Pride should not be held at the expense of our Earth.
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse
Refuse the single use: plastic cutlery, straws, take out containers, do what you can to BYO and lessen your impact. At Pride, you can’t go without a water bottle, but individual plastic water bottles create huge amounts of waste. Instead, bring your own reusable bottle and refill it often (throw some ice cubes into it, to keep it cold). According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, New York’s drinking water is considered to be the best in the US and consistently wins annual taste tests. So, rehydrate at Washington Square Park, which has a number of water fountains and is close to the March route. This will also save you plenty of money in the long run!
Eat Your Veggies Out
From FoodFest to any of the eateries around the city, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from this Sunday. Refusing to put your dollar into cheap and low quality clothing brands is just as important as choosing ethical food companies. Be an eco conscious consumer. Avoid ingredients like palm oil, animal byproducts, and choose snacks that are Certified B. Support restaurants that locally sourced or grow their own produce, or food trucks that are low waste or use biodegradable food containers. We all know that eating your greens is good for our Earth. Choose local, organic, and remember that vegetarian is always an option.
A choice we stand by is Just Salad’s Just Proud Salad: which includes romaine, red cabbage, tomatoes, avocado, carrots, banana peppers, and house-made balsamic vinaigrette (yum!). It comes in a reusable bowl and $1 from every salad purchase goes in NYC Pride (available until after June 30th). All this celebration can sure stir up an appetite, so look out for companies that donate to LGBTQ+ causes, too!
Don’t lose your momentum.
Be Gone, Garbage!
As much as you might want that free pair of plastic sunglasses you were offered by a vendor, avoid free handouts you won’t use. Chances are, you won’t use much of the “swag” that vendors offer to you once Pride is over. Saying “no” will keep those sunglasses out of a landfill for a little while longer. Before you leave, live by the camping/hiking trail golden rule: pack it up, pack it out. Make sure everything that you bring with you to Pride leaves with you, too. Dispose of trash properly, and consider taking your recyclables home instead of mixing them with regular trash bins. That may require a bit more effort on your end, but a little goes a long way into caring for our environment.
There is a Planet LGBTQ
Finally, share your sustainable story with loved ones, on Instagram, or newly-made friends to inspire them to do the same! “Don’t worry about being perfect,” Gerod Rody notes. “It’s about being greener every year. Whether you’re planning Pride, attending Pride, or whatever, we can be more fabulous and live in a more fabulous planet.” Please share this article to spread the love and knowledge about how to have pride in our planet!
Written by: Laura Matusheski