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Ten Other Independence Movements You Should Know About This Fourth of July

Americans are lucky enough to celebrate independence with beer and fireworks, but people around the world are still fighting for their freedom.

This Saturday, countless Americans will flock to parks with burgers and beers to celebrate our nation’s independence. It’s easy for us to celebrate our struggle for freedom in a cheery, light manner today, given how far in the past the Revolutionary War is for us. But that distance also means that it’s easy for us to forget about the many valid, ongoing struggles for freedom around the world. Some of these struggles resonate with our own history, or even greatly surpass the slights Americans suffered under the British. Yet even on independence-sensitive days like the fourth, many of these struggles often go overlooked.

Granted, ever since Scotland’s independence referendum last September, there’s been a renewed interest in separatist movements. Despite Edinburgh’s failure to break away from London, the publicity and success of their campaign had the English quaking and scrambling. And beyond the U.K., the Scottish wave seems to have inspired a number of other separatist movements, from Catalonia in Spain to the Kurds in the heart of the Middle East, to make their own new ripples in the pool of global politics.


This momentum following the Scottish referendum has been beneficial to the public’s understanding of modern breakaway movements. Articles on separatism have pointed out that these movements are not just petty regional ethnic squabbles agitating against a comfortable status quo, but instead often well-supported and theoretically justified attempts to bring sovereignty closer to the people. And they’ve helped people to remember that separatism is not always about a violent struggle, but can be achieved through mutually beneficial and peaceful splits, as between Norway and Sweden at the start of the 20th century or the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the 1990s.

Image by subberculture via Wikimedia Commons

For all the benefits of this renewed interest, though, it’s hard not to notice that most conversations focus on breakaway factions in the West. And the few independence movements we talk about in the wider world (like Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Transnistria in Moldova, or the Kurdish movement) are discussed insomuch as they fit into prevailing narratives of conflicts involving the Western world, from tensions with Russia over Ukraine to the fight against the Islamic State.

Partly, this is because there are just a lot of separatist movements in the West—at least 40 in Western Europe and just about one in every state in the U.S. (about a quarter to a third of Americans support some sort of secession for their state). Yet while we fixate on minute Western movements, there are actually hundreds of other new states and secessionist groups active in the rest of the world. It’s admittedly hard for outsiders to figure out which ones to take seriously, or even how to decode many of these conflicts—a fact that’s especially true in countries like India or Myanmar where there are dozens of tiny, hyper-regional independence movements.

But there are a few independence movements in the wider world with real and present powers to shape geopolitics in a way that could reverberate around the globe. In the name of bringing at least some of these groups to greater attention and in an effort to expand conversations on independence beyond their current Western focus, the following is a list of ten global independence movements you really should know about. They’ve been selected (unscientifically) for their scale, level of support, and potential for global impact.

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via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

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Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

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Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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