Much attention has been paid to the relationship between poverty and environmental degradation but little of it from a gender perspective. Community environmental initiatives in particular have clear gender implications, as women and men interact with the local environment in different ways according to their community's social norms. The failure to understand this can undermine policy interventions. This paper, based on research carried out by the University of East Anglia, examines feminist and post-modern theories of environmental relations and suggests how a gender analysis might throw new light on discussions concerning environmental sustainability. Although important in establishing a foothold in the gender and environment debate, these theories are often at odds with empirical and historical evidence. For example, eco-feminist assertions that male-dominated societies are more environmentally destructive are not borne out by evidence from countries like India, which is very patriarchal but has a low per capita rate of resource use. Other findings suggest that people's everyday interactions with their environment do not bear out the assumption that the exploitation of nature automatically means the exploitation of women.