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Curly Nikki

Why Don’t Black Girls Go Green?

By January 27th, 202145 Comments
Why Don't Black Girls Go Green?
by Sherrell Dorsey of OrganicBeautyVixen

Today I stuffed four Oreos in my mouth. Oh how much I missed thee! Don’t judge me… My life called for it. In the midst of cheating on my New Year’s resolution I starting thinking about all of the ways I’ve struggled over the past few years to make dramatic lifestyle changes. From healthy eating to maintaining a regular workout routine to even living a green lifestyle, it’s a real challenge.

When I began this journey I sought out resources and information to make the transition a little easier. I picked up magazines like Natural Living, Whole Body, Organic Spa and other publications that are typically filled with great tips, solutions and resources for living a healthy and natural lifestyle. While the information was useful I never really felt motivated to take much action. A few changes here and there but there was something missing. Most of my resources didn’t have images of women that looked like me. What this lifestyle said to me was: Black Girls Don’t Go Green.

I don’t mean to be petty, controversial or pull the dreadful “race card”, but how many of you are really tired of being shut out of the media? Apparently we don’t shop at Whole Foods, go to yoga or want to purchase eco-friendly supplies for our home. With the burgeoning natural hair community taking over you’d think that companies would be capitalizing on the fact that we as women of color are going back to our roots, our grandmother recipes and looking for alternatives to the toxic chemicals that have been shoved down our throats the past few decades.

So I ask you, is it true that black girls aren’t going green or are we simply being ignored? I agree with the latter.

Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating OrganicBeautyVixen.com, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks’s beauty and fashion site TypeF.com, Jones Magazine, MySalonScoop.com and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at www.twitter.com/organicvixen

45 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    I do! And I am a black girl! But I live in Europe,so maybe it's another story.

  • Anonymous says:

    Candance is right, a lot of us do not brag. We may not be totally green, but blacks have always reused things, or try natural products/herbs for healing etc. I am not totally green and do not brag about being green or natural, who cares. It seems ppl who go green or natural have to blare it to the world with t shirts and preaching to folks, later for that need for attention. I try my best to use natural products, but I also use conventional ones as well. Many ppl are like this, so they do not get recognized.

  • Erica S says:

    Well I'm a black girl that goes green. I prefer to grow my own vegetables, recycle, reuse common household items. I even started growing my own herbs to use in my hair care regimen. I think the main thing that stops people from going green is either not knowing HOW to go green, or laziness. I think it's not knowing how they can truly contribute. Some people don't see a point in going green if it doesn't benefit them. I think the main thing that's helped me is simply helping myself first. I'm not here to make this huge transformation and save the world. If I save enough money by going green in my own environment, then I'm doing my job. And if everyone does what they can to reduce their OWN carbon footprint, then we'll be in a much better place.

  • Ms. Em. says:

    Despite modern day trends and marketing, I suppose I grew up 'green'. I knew three of my four great grandmothers and was raised very close to all my grands. They all recycled and had organic gardens. This had a tremendous impact on me (though unspoken they also influenced my decision to go natural) It never occurred to me until reading this that I am not being targeted in green campaigns. I feel indifferent to it. Those who care to have healthier bodies are a minority…and being black, well we're the minority's minority. So I guess I am not surprised that we aren't being targeted in marketing.

  • Anonymous says:

    Is yoga the only way to go green? I hate yoga. I find it tediously boring plus I am short on time and need to maximize my exercise time.

    I have been living a green life for a few years now. It started the years I lived in London and continued when I got back. I have always lived and currently live in a world class city so it is relatively easy to be green and organic.

    I think people somewhat falsely associate a green lifestyle with wealth and they don't associate black people with wealth so we get ignored. Really, nothing new. We need to stop seeking validation from outside ourselves. Get a friend (or do it yourself) and start a green blog; I'll be there reading articles and getting tips.

  • Anonymous says:

    I really like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's but in order for me to get there I must drive like 30 minutes to almost an hour away just to get to one. Its not fair that they only have carry-out chinese and chicken places in one area and nicer establishments in another.

  • Anonymous says:

    Why is everybody always worrying about what black girls do? I can go green til I go green in the face, God has control over this universe, not me

  • Sparkle Arts says:

    Oh boy. Here we go again….

  • Unknown says:

    Who says "all black women" have to be represented in order for "being black and going green" to be okay? I have been recycling and buying organic foods for several years after learning how beneficial it is for my health and overall wellness. And for the sake of my health and well-being, I do not care WHO is presented in media or anywhere else as the face of a green lifestyle.

    My 68 year old mother is the greenest person I know. She plants her most of her own vegetables and fruit (whatever she does not plant she picks from the family farm). She recycles absolutely everything – whatever her trash collector does not accept as recyclable or whatever she cannot compost, she either finds another use for before deciding to trash. Did I say she recycles everything? Over Christmas, my sisters and I were home and just joking around with her about her being a "green nazi" and I, jokingly, said "I bet you dismantle the k-cups to recycle them, huh?" She innocently replied, "Yeah, why not?" I was DEAD!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Candice summed it up perfectly…nothing else needs to be added

  • Anonymous says:

    I was also put off by the title of this article.

  • WMH says:

    I forgot to mention in my earlier post:

    If there is a local farmers market in your area, you can probably get really great deals. You will also be supporting small businesses in the process.

    In NY, there is a farmers market in Union Square on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat. They have a TON of items for sale. The grownyc website http://www.grownyc.org/ourmarkets lists the various farmers markets throughout the NYC area. If you google farmers markets in other cities I bet you'll find similar lists.

  • WMH says:

    I started going green about 13 years ago. Now all of my cleaning products, light bulbs, food, hair products, etc…are eco-friendly. I think if someone is trying to switch over everything all at once it can be overwhelming and pricey. However, you can easily do it over the course of a few months or a year. When it's time to replace your items simply choose the eco-friendly options. The light bulbs are a little more expensive. However, you won't have to replace them for almost decade. LOL!! Also, I rarely shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. I like both stores but I like shopping right in my own neighborhood since I don't own a car. There are small organic supermarkets that I frequent but I still also shop at my local Key Food or Pathmark. More and more well known brands are coming out with healthier and/or green options. You can buy non-organic vegetables/fruits and just use a vegetable wash to clean off any pesticide residue. I use a brand called Environne Fruit and Vegetable Wash (16 oz bottle for 4.99) and it lasts a while because you don't need much. I also unplug a lot of items in my home when not in use…even if you don't have an item turned on you still use up energy by having it plugged in. I went to a "green fair" here in NYC last spring. The place was packed and I saw plenty of black women there. It's really not expensive to go green if you plan it properly. Just my 2 cents.

  • Anonymous says:

    I too think the title of this article is problematic. Also, just as I don't need to see a black girl with a 'fro on the cover of Elle, I don't need to see a black girl toting a green bag on the cover of Vegetarian Digest to go green. But I realize that a lot of black folks won't do something unless they see other black folks do it so I understand the desire to see more POC represented.

    Like most folks, I could probably stand to be more green, especially in the area of recycling. Like someone mentioned above, I eat mostly paleo but I don't have a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's near me. What I do have near me (which is even better IMO) are a LOT of family farms that sell organic veggies and pastured meat and eggs. I put them in my reusable grocery bags. 😉 Also, I replaced most of my light bulbs with CFLs long ago. And for what it's worth, currently my hair products are about 80% organic. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    My question is why does it have to be Black girls not going green? A lot of people are still not going green…not just Black girls. I know the article is harmless but when I saw the title I was like gee whiz, here we go. LOL

    Jas

  • Nashira says:

    This doesn't necessarily generalize to the black community as a whole, but I've noticed the difficulty of going green in urban communities. Forget Whole Foods and Trader Joe's; recycling a water bottle or throwing away a banana peel can oftentimes be a chore. I attend university in West Philadelphia and the further West you go (deeper into the lower-income, minority communities), recycling bins and garbage cans are like hidden treasures. How do you begin to explain the importance of lowering a carbon footprint when throwing trash on the ground or into abandoned lots is the norm because there are relatively few alternatives? For people who live in such areas, being environmentally-friendly requires venturing outside their own community and into more affluent areas; this physical travel alone can make going green seem like a "white" endeavor.

  • Anonymous says:

    Candice, your the bomb.com! Sorry to sound so racist but the latter race take credit for what we typically do every day. Mean while we as a race of Africans allow them to take credit for it just like the good old slavery days. For example, if they go to Jamacaia and notice the natives drinking Irish Moss they come back with it and call it something else and try to make us believe it's the next best thing… Not! It's the same old thing grandpa has been drinking for centuries
    And pass it down to my father….be bless sisters and stay informed

  • Crystal J says:

    Amen Candice!!I grew up going to "the market" every weekend and traveling once a month or so to buy from farms, not because we couldn't afford to go the grocery store but because that's how my parents were raised.
    My daddy is country born and bred and my when my mama came to this country so got sick from eating the "fresh" fruits and vegetables at grocery stores that she started finding better ways to eat and buy fresh produce.

    I was probably the only girl in my group of friends who defined "canned" food differently from other folk, lol. But, like Candice said, it's funny how the things people did/do for survival/health is now so trendy.

  • Doc says:

    we're simply being ignored…they call me a paper hippy at work haha

  • Anonymous says:

    I second everything Candice said! Especially the part about white people getting Big ups over something POC or poor people in general have done for a lifetime.

  • Ahyl says:

    Why does it matter what the media portrays? We do not have to live our lives constantly concerned with what's presented by the media. Do we need this "recognition" for validation? No. Just continue with your chosen lifestyle regardless of what is presented in the media.

  • Anonymous says:

    Of course, many black people are going green or have already gone green.

  • Anonymous says:

    I recycle, use minimal water and lights in order to conserve, and take my own bags with me to stores. I guess that means I'm not a black girl.
    *side eye*
    I appreciate the sentiment, but generalizing what black girls do isn't fair, its played out. What's next? Black girls can't swim and like to talk to the screen in movie theaters?

  • M says:

    Why do people think this post is stupid? It's to get a conversation going. If you don't like it, don't comment and don't read. I'm trying my best to be green. I have more in the recycle than trash bin, unplug my appliances when not using them, changed all my lightbulbs to whatever they told us to use, bring my bags to the grocery store, hit up the thrift shops more now, etc. I think it's a combination of both factors. I think we are being ignored just like with lots of other things but I don't think that's the only factor. I think the community you live in and how you were raised has a lot to do with it too. I live on the East coast where it is kind of a big thing but in the south where I'm from, it just really doesn't seem to be that big of a deal. I cringe at the styrofoam plates and amount of plastic and glass in the trashcan when I go home! There are many reasons why black AND white ppl don't go green. @ Anon 2:26 "Oh, but wait, we are all a monolith awash with illegitimate babies whose fathers are in prison." HAAAAAA! you're killing me here 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    There are a lot more black women that go green than we think. But let's be honest,I'm a black college woman living with my parents in what is considered [by the government] to be poverty. Going green is DEFINITELY not something I can do at this point in my life cause it is so gosh-darn EXPENSIVE. All these organic products cost an arm and a leg. I do recycle though but that's pretty much all I can do. And I believe that, that is the reason why most black people don't go green. At least the black people in my Downtown Miami community! Of course,we should make sacrifices but you can only go so far when bills need to be paid and the fridge is empty.And I'm sure this goes for other "races" as well. We're living is such tough times.I honestly wish there were more ways to go green cause I really want to do more!—-Daniella

  • Anonymous says:

    I think a lot of our community is afraid of what they do not understand. I get the side eye when I mention showering less frequently, using reusable feminine hygiene products or environmentally friendly food and body products.

  • Anonymous says:

    I AGREE WITH CANDACE!!! I learn how to recycle from my grandma. She reused EVERY plastic item that came her way as long as it was sanitary; to this day she has a container from the biscotti that was given to her years ago. She was the first person I ever saw rocking the reusable grocery bag when I was a little kid.
    I originally started riding the bus because I hated having to take my car to the mechanic all the time and it just wasn't necessary. I don't need to have a car and buy gas all the time, although Palm Beach has a less than stellar transit system I still use it. I used to not tell people that I rode it but now I'm not. Recently I've started riding a bicycle and it is such an awesome feeling to ride in good weather. I wish there was a local, noncompetitive bike group I could join of fellow bike commuters. A group of naturals would be better.

  • Anonymous says:

    I must agree with annonymous 4:15pm. LOL I GO GREEN when I am allowed too. If you know what I mean.

  • Asia says:

    We're being ignored. I know way too many environmentally conscience black girls including myself.

  • Anonymous says:

    This topic is stupid

  • Candace says:

    I think it's purely due to lack of attention. I'm more eco-friendly than most of the white people I encounter every day. The difference is: I don't brag about it or stand on my soapbox shouting "Look at me! Look at me! I carry reusable bags!"

    I don't shop at Trader Joe's and I rarely go to Whole Foods except to buy things I have trouble locating elsewhere (almond oil, rosewater, etc.) But I see plenty of Black folks there, mostly women as a matter of fact. But I don't use those stores often because I'm a firm believer that you can eat healthy without going broke.

    We need to stop assuming that white people have the market cornered on caring about the environment, especially since half the things treehuggers suggest to help save the planet is stuff Black folks have been doing for generations.

    – Riding the bus or carpooling
    – Buying from secondhand stores & Goodwill
    – Shopping at farmers' markets (which are NOT new)
    – Turning off the lights when we're not in a room
    – Opening the window instead of turning on the A/C
    – Putting on sweaters or blankets instead of cranking the heat
    – Shopping locally within our own neighborhoods

    And so on. The only difference with us is that when many in our community do these things, we're doing so out of necessity. We're taking the bus because we don't have cars. We're turning off the heat & putting on a sweater because we can't afford a high heating bill.

    It trips me out that hipsters and yuppie white folks are getting credit for something poor white folks and POC have been doing for generations. Like they invented it and it's new. SMH.

    BTW, since when was taking up yoga the same as going green?

  • TyaD says:

    BLACK GIRLS ROCK! And yes, we do go green. I'm living proof. I work for the Environmental Protection Agency, cringe when other ask for bottled water, carry my canteen with me everywhere I go, use my recylce bin more than my trash can, clean with many green products, have plants everywhere, have a graden every year, and finally now using all organic products in my hair. So black girls definitely know how to go green. It is their choice though how far they wish to take it. For example, I don't compost. GROSS! But I do what I can.

  • Davina916 says:

    There's no Whole Foods near me. I'm hoping we'll get one soon.

  • Anonymous says:

    Really??! What's the point of fighting stereotypes when we self impose stereotypes on ourselves. Some people live a green lifestyle and some do not regardless of their race or gender. You should ask yourself why do you need the media to justify a lifestyle for you??

  • Anonymous says:

    I get so tired of all the stereotypes. All Black women are not the same.

  • Anonymous says:

    I work in the "green" industry and do not see very many black people. This is coming from someone who lives in SC. I think it is not in our culture right now to "go green". At least not from what I can see. I mean, I get the most evil looks from cashiers when I bring out my reusable bags to use. It will take time.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been eco-friendly/green for almost 10 years. I shop at Whole Foods, attend a vegetarian monthly meeting, juice, recycle, garden, and create my own compost. I just ignore what's presented to me through media or any other outlet. All media is not bad, but it can be biased. If I want to make a difference, it has to be because I want to and not what the media tells me I should or should not do. It doesn't matter if I ever see a curly-haired black woman sorting through plastics and cardboard on tv or in magazines…it's what I want to do. I feel that if I can buy some things at Whole Foods to make my body run more efficiently and recycle some things to make this world a little better, so be it. But I'm not waiting on the media to snap a picture of me beside a green dumpster, I'm doing it because I want to make a difference.

    Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    I used to recycle then we moved and there are no recycling bins near my apartment. The closest whole foods/trader joes is almost 2 hours away. I want to make a difference/do my part but there are a lot of obstacles in the way.

  • Kiki says:

    I think it is largely due to the lack of attention. I know plenty of black people that shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and recycle, compost and make their own clothes, among other "green" behaviors. There are also white people that could care less about environmental issues. There is also this perception that we don't care about the environment and it's completely false. On the other hand, I think we can do better about educating ourselves and our community on the need for environmental responsibility. This is not only for the planet's sake, but our own since minorities and poor people are most likely to be negatively affected by environmental degradation. I am a blogger on environmental issues (infrequent, but I'm trying to do better) @ the6ixthday.blogspot.com

  • Anonymous says:

    I hate these type of posts. There are always these generalizations that come out of thin air that try to single out a race. Of course black people are being singled out in this article but they are plenty of other races that do not go green. Unless there was a study that included a fair representation of equal races then I refuse to believe or even consider that certain races are more green than others.

  • Nicole S. says:

    I'm Green and I'm a black girl! LOL. I love Whole Foods and frequent Trader Joes. Changed to a Paleo food regimen so Im eating clean…even making my own mayo! I recycle and later this year I will purchase a hybrid vehicle. I agree we are ignored but we are out there. I see tons of us in Whole Foods in my area as well!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Um, all the media wants to discuss with regards to black women is how we'll all die single b/c no one wants to date or marry us.

    Some people are "green and do the things mention but there is also a hefty pricetag that goes with shopping at Whole Paycheck as well.

    I also think that with regards to food, black people who are health conscious or want fresh ingredients look for better values than Whole Foods…I know I do.

    Oh, but wait, we are all a monolith awash with illegitimate babies whose fathers are in prison.

  • Kim says:

    I suspect green black girls just aren't receiving media attention.

    I live in Detroit, and drive to the suburbs to shop at Whole Foods, and about 1/3 of the shoppers I see are Black. They're shopping for organic fruits and vegetables, and specialty food items – just like everyone else.

    I'm much more likely purchase organic food than green household products, though. If I had young children I might feel differently.

  • Anonymous says:

    We are being ignored! I've seen plenty of green friendly black people in NYC. Hell I even got my white bf into recycling and eating fair trade or organic foods.

  • LadyV69 says:

    I think it's more likely both, plus some other factors. The fact that we don't see images of people who look like us in ads for eco-friendly products most likely turns off a lot of us and does lead us to believe that "going green" is only for white people. I live a fairly diverse city, yet there have been times when I've been the only black person in a yoga class. Also, products touted as "green" as well as organic produce are usually more expensive, which prohibits a lot of us from trying them out. I don't forsee much change unless the competition for green products increases which could force a drop in prices and until there is more a media presence.

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