Why You Should Punch a CEO This Earth Week (Or Any Day)

If you haven’t been reading the news lately, let me catch you up to speed: Floods in Kwazulu-Natal have resulted in countless deaths and casualties, glaciers are melting at record-high speeds and an oil-tanker is set to explode off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea and we only have a couple of days to take action, before coastal life and Yemen’s population face the consequences of a disastrous environmental disaster.

It is, by now, a well-known fact that capitalism has played a large and instrumental role in climate change. Insatiable desire and exploitation of countless resources in order to accumulate wealth fuel multiple environmental crises. To name one, the destruction of Northern African environments as Western powers search for oil.

Fast fashion, such as Shein, is fuelling consumer culture, encouraging the concept of everything being disposable while enabling child labour and labour exploitation. Earth Week has been littered with Greenwashing. Upon walking into H&M, one is immediately greeted with eco-friendly, hippie-appeasing posters: “100% Recycled Denim”, “Recycled Buttons” etc. etc. etc.. But, at the same time, the cashier asks if you would like to buy a (plastic) bottle of water to support their charitable organisations and the label on the inside of your denim says “Made in Pakistan” (a country with very grey-scale labour laws).

The Anthropocene states that humans have made an irreversible impact on the earth. This is predominantly marked by the industrial revolution, where earth’s population spiked incredulously high with the invention of the steam engine. Since then, the population has grown and grown and grown until we are now at almost eight billion people inhabiting the same planet. It is unquestionable that our existence is linked to the rapid speed of climate change. However, to say that we all are equally responsible, is incorrect.

Indigenous communities, for example, barely have a carbon footprint as they continuously subscribe to a sustainable lifestyle. Indigenous people from Hawai’i, for example, adhere to the belief that the earth owns us, we don’t own the earth. This is true, as we have nowhere else to go. We are subjects of the earth, however, we have let ourselves believe differently.

There are only 100 companies worldwide that are responsible for 75% of CO2 emissions. These include Shell (already facing intense boycotts in South Africa), BP, Chevron, Gazprom, National Iranian Oil Company and ExxonMobil(The Guardian, 2018). These companies are not a representation of the average citizen.

Therefore, when asked what “you can do for the earth during earth week”, it is not going to make a significant impact in the grand scheme of things, as the average citizen is not the problem. Instead, large corporations have reversed the narrative, telling US to unplug, advising US to go vegetarian, reminding US to switch off our lights for an hour on earth day, reminding US through greenwashing tactics that OUR earth is in danger.

Coca-Cola claims to be eco-friendly by re-introducing the glass bottle, however, they continue to produce plastic products. In 2021, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo (who even drinks Pepsi anymore) were labelled as the world’s top plastic producers in the world for the fourth year running (Break Free From Plastic, 2021). Consistency is key, I guess.

The Global South has also been the target of the Western World. Countries in the Global South are suffering the disastrous effects more than the countries that are actually responsible for mass waste production and elevated CO2 emissions. Natural disasters, that are undisputedly the result of climate change, impact already economically unstable countries and leave millions displaced. Climate change is an intersectional issue.

The role of the citizen in the fight against climate change does not have to be a full lifestyle change; Sure, veganism is not only better for the environment but it also has added health benefits. Turning off the lights when you’re not in the room saves electricity and cash. Walking or cycling to school/campus/work (if you live in a safe enough area, otherwise carpooling), also saves money, is healthy and saves the environment. But, as an individual in the arena facing massive corporations and billionaires who do not give their actions a second thought, we must realise that we are fighting an unfair fight. We can educate ourselves and separate our waste, but at the end of the day, it is capitalism that we have to blame for the situation we are in.

It is imperative that we spotlight the actual perpetrators of climate change. Rather than continuously shun those who have not yet gone vegan, rather tell the billionaires to not use their private jet for a week or Coca-Cola to eliminate plastic completely. Climate change will continue to plague our planet if the 1% and mass corporations don’t take action. And that is why, during earth week, we at Moyé are encouraging people to punch your local seven-figure CEO. Do the earth a favour; Make Gaia proud.