In light of multiple significant incidents in its contemporary history, the American environmental movement (EM) seems to be at a crossroads as the national consensus on this movement—forged during the 1970s—starts to crack under the strain of rising challenges. Communities most adversely affected by environmental hazards—usually referred to as communities of color and labor—now seem to be estranged from and ignored by a mostly ecocentric movement they can hardly identify with. Against such a backdrop,I examine the emergence of new dissenting ‘anthropocentric’ voices within the American EM—most notably the Environmental Justice Movement (EJM)—and discuss the multiple facets of the anthropocentric-ecocentric divide and its bearing on the evolution of the movement. I will further analyze whether the emerging sustainability discourse will be able to contain this ideological divide and offer a reconciliation framework for a harmonization of these movements’ objectives, policies, and modes of activism.
Discarded items or waste provide a bountiful, although largely ignored, resource for artists interested in appropriating found objects to give them a second life or share their story. Artists may be inspired to create works from scrap items encountered by chance. In other instances, deliberate scavenging for reusable materials can take them into new environments that spark fresh ideas. The methodology of found materials brings up questions about reconfiguring the appropriation of junk in ways that raise awareness of the nature of objects and products in modern life, consumption practices, recycling, and waste. Discourse surrounding the dichotomy between art and junk focuses largely on the connection between everyday objects and high-art objects with American consumption practices. Recent waste studies by scholars, such as Boscagli, Manco, Morrison, Schmidt, and Whiteley, demonstrate varying aims toward both elevating the status of trash as material ripe for fine-art making and as a conceptual conduit for raising awareness of the dangers in our rapidly increasing and accelerating consumer habits.