Ecological Citizenship? Aspiring to a Good Green Life in the City
Dr. Dayna Scott
Osgoode Hall Law School and Faculty of Environmental Studies
Contemporary forms of ecological citizenship tend to rely on a notion of 'responsible' citizenship which consists primarily of individual actions like separating the recycling, using reusable shopping bags, and buying green cleaning products, etc. And urban dwellers often typically also tell themselves that this mode of living, along with compact housing and transit use, lessens their ecological footprint. But literature on ecological citizenship is exposing how a few symbolic actions in this regard can prevent individuals from considering other, much more ecologically damaging aspects of their city life. Critical geography literature is now focusing as much on the interrelationships between core and periphery (I have looked primarily at the "networked infrastructures" lit) such as those created by energy infrastructures. Often cities "project their effects" onto a diverse set of "terrains and domains" as Sassen says, in order to meet their growing needs. When consumers think that ecological citizenship means "buying the right things," a pattern of consumption fuels these effects and at the same time shelters the ecologically minded urban dweller from the consequences felt elsewhere.