An environmentalist can be defined as a person who is concerned about the environment, and who acts on those concerns. It may be a mother who protests against a nearby power plant that she suspects is affecting the health of her child. Or it may be someone employed by an environmental non-governmental organisation working on global or local sustainability challenges. What all environmentalists have in common is the fact that they translate their concerns into concrete action and try to have a positive impact on the quality of the environment.
Environmentalists play a fundamental role in civil society. Their efforts make a critical contribution to addressing some of our most pressing global challenges, from climate change to the depletion of the ozone layer. Many environmentalists work tirelessly to put pressure on elected officials to make and enforce policies to protect the world around us.
Environmentalists can be found in all sectors of civil society. And they’re not all long-haired, tree-hugging hippies. An environmentalist might also wear a suit and work for a big multinational. Brian Goldner, for example, chief executive officer of Hasbro, has worked to reduce packaging and to source 85 percent of the paper used in the company’s toys and board games from recycled materials. His commitment earned the toy manufacturer the title Top Green Company in the United States in 2016.
Environmentalists play a key role in many countries with respect to the development of civil society and civil action. Coalitions of individuals pressing for environmental justice have even challenged the legitimacy of unjust governments. The Bulgarian environmental organisation Ecoglasnost, for example, which was formed originally by a group of citizens protesting against chlorine pollution from chemical plants, eventually became part of the opposition movement and played an important role in the political process that resulted in the fall of Communism in Bulgaria.