I have been noticing lately that when ever I read an article about this project and it says “Sarah McGaughey, environmentalist”, I feel irritated. At first, I thought it was just because I don’t like labels period and I would rather just be called Sarah, but today I realized I don’t mind being called an artist. There is going to be an article in Glow magazine about Kyle and I, and this project, so today a fact checker e-mailed to make sure everything was correct. When I got to the part that said, “you are an environmentalist in Toronto”, I corrected it and said ” I am an artist in Toronto.” Then I got to thinking about why I would object to being called an environmentalist. I came up with this: it’s redundant. We live on this earth/ in the environment. If we don’t take care of the environment, we are not taking care of ourselves, as everything is connected. It’s really obvious and natural to me to be concerned for the environment. Saying I am an environmentalist is like saying, I am a breathist, I believe in breathing; I am a foodist, I believe in eating; I am a flatulentist, I believe in farting. These are all just natural things we to do, that don’t need a label.  Also it seems to me that the minority should get labels, and I feel that the majority of people do care about the environment. Yes, I am prepared to be called naive again.  So instead of calling everyone who cares an “environmentalist”, why don’t we just use name calling for the people who are doing harm. They can be “destructionists” or “Greedists”. I’m not sure why “artist” doesn’t seem like a lable to me, maybe because it’s something I chose, something I do, rather than something I am. Maybe it’s because I’m cranky and contrary. So, I suppose,  if you have to call me anything, call me an artist, or Sarah, or  a cranky pregnant person who is just trying to do her bit.

That’s all for now. I’ll post about cat litter tomorrow. Oooooo the suspense!



Filed under art, inspiration, press, project rules

7 responses to “Labels

  1. You are right in a sense – many of us are “environmentalists”. However, you stand out and above from the great mass of us with what you’re doing (and have already accomplished). I’d hazard a guess that in the media’s eye that makes you an “environmentalist”, whereas perhaps you should instead be called an “environmental activist”, as you’re actively DOING something about it, not just thinking and/or talking about it. How about “environmental performance artist”?

  2. Does that mean you are a sustainapediaist? 😉

  3. Blair

    what about activist? is that a label you feel comfortable with? Or artist/activist? Or does that seem redundant too, since most people maintain some level of activity or care about something in their life?

  4. Nope,flatulantist is the only label I’m comfortable with now. I decided even artist is too confining 😉

  5. Sustainapediaist? Ew. Sounds like something to do with feet. I’d prefer “sustainability enthusiast”, or the title my daughter gave me – “silly daddy”. 🙂

  6. Jen

    Hi Sarah, I don’t know if you ever look back through old posts for comments, or if you get notified of them, but I will keep making them anyway… The exact same thing happened to me the other week when I tried (and thankfully succeeded!) to refuse a bag at a shop – “Oh,” said the shopkeeper, but in a very friendly way, “you’re an environmentalist.” I know that he was trying to be nice, and lots of people thank me when I say I’d rather not take a bag (mostly independent businesses), but being called an ‘environmentalist’ annoyed me for the same reason it annoyed you – we should all be environmentalists, we all live here! Good suggestions though about the opposing terms!

    I think perhaps also being called an artist is not an offensive term because it implies that you are involved in the process of creation and reflection. A very noble cause.

  7. thanks Jen. I am notified of comments no matter what post you leave them on, so no worries, I hear you sister!

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