It’s Bea Johnson, Mother of the Zero Waste Movement, plus Sustainable Brown Girl’s Ariel Green. Minorities in Climate Action, and the Global Ecovillage Network!
Global Ecovillage Network, Bea Johnson, Mother of Zero Waste, Minorities in Climate Action, Ariel Green–Sustainable Brown Girl
THE MOTHER OF ZERO WASTE, BEA JOHNSON
Yesterday we brought you a profile on Akua Y. Opoku, a low-waste influencer. Just in case you missed it, “Low-waste living is a set of lifestyle habits through which one consciously makes consumption choices with the intention of reducing waste as a byproduct of those choices.”
But it’s possible to level up, or level down, to zero waste living. Bea Johnson, a French-American woman living in California, is widely credited with beginning the zero-waste lifestyle movement, starting small with her family of four and sharing the journey on her blog Zero Waste Home.
Truthfully, the zero waste movement is about as old as human civilization. In fact, any ancient or pre-modern civilization, tribe, or village would immediately recognize the concept of zero waste, or rather, would wonder exactly when our wasteful practices became the norm.
Jumping ahead several millennia, our great grandparents and grandparents and parents likely remember a time when they returned milk bottles to the store, or used reusable bags, containers, and jars in the kitchen and at the grocery store.
In 2010, Bea Johnson was featured in the New York Times, and in 2013 she had published the book Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying your Life by Reducing your Waste which featured her methodology of the 5Rs (an extended version of reduce, reuse, recycle).
Why does zero-waste living matter to us? It helps promote the circular economy. In five words, the circular economy is reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle, refuse (or rot).
Bea Johnson has a great Tedx Talk where she shares her tribulations and secrets to achieving a zero waste lifestyle. Johnson’s on a mission, and books speaking engagements with companies large and small as well was community organizations.
SUSTAINABLE BROWN GIRL, ARIEL GREEN
Ariel Green is The Sustainable Brown Girl. Back in 2018, Green embarked upon her low-waste journey. What she noticed was the dearth of women of color at the forefront of the low-waste community. Intuitively she knew she wasn’t the only person of color interested in saving the planet.
She’s right. A 2019 Pew research study and other subsequent surveys conclude that communities of color feel more impacted by climate change than white communities, and that people of color are more likely to take action to combat climate change than their white counterparts.
So Green’s Sustainable Brown Girl community was created to highlight, connect, and inspire black, brown, and indigenous women within the sustainability movement. Her goal is to inspire all to be more sustainable everyday through environmental knowledge, local involvement, and intersectional education.
Since its inception, Green has unearthed many women of color who are climate activists, farmers, bee keepers, zero waste shop owners, packaging engineers, etc. You can find her and them on Instragram, YouTube and at sustainablebrowngirl.com. According to her website, it’s all about “connecting and inspiring black, brown and indigenous women to live more sustainably. We’re helping you make better choices for the health of your body and the planet.”
MINORITIES IN CLIMATE ACTION
If the planet warms 2 degrees Celsius about 4 degrees Fahrenheit, Black Americans are 40 percent more likely than other groups to live in places where extreme temperatures will cause more deaths.
Put another way, Racial minorities in the United States will bear a disproportionate burden of the negative health and environmental impacts from a warming planet, that according to a 2021 study by the Environmental Protection Agency.
That’s why Minorities in Climate Action was founded. It’s an environmental justice group that focuses on empowering black and brown youth to be climate activists. The group is solutions-oriented, focusing on education and innovation to build knowledge and alternatives to environmental racism. MICA hopes to build policy and economic reform to bring climate equity.
According to its website, MICA offers programs targeting both high school and college students, helping them set a foundation of inspiration from which youth activists can achieve environmental justice in their communities.
Students can apply for college internships and compete for prize money to help fund a local community climate change solution. High school programs include education on the fundamental climate change issues and guidance on which colleges have the environmental/climate change programs for those interested in obtaining a degree in the field.
Minorities in Climate Action also encourages youth activists to start a MICA club in their school.
In 2020 MICA was awarded by the United Nations Academic Impact and Millennium Campus Network for completing the Millennium Fellowship.
Check out more of Minorities in Climate Action by surfing on over to (all one word) minoritiesinclimateaction.com, or visit us at TheClimate.org/episodes and click on the links in the Deeper Dive section of this story.
GLOBAL ECOVILLAGE NETWORK
Our reporting last month led us to wonder if people had yet started to build physical communities where people could live, and which were designed to lessen the worst effects of climate change, help people adapt to it, taking into account the buildings and infrastructure resilient to climate change’s unpredictable nature.
Turns out there are. In fact there’s a burgeoning global network. It’s called The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). It catalyzes communities for a regenerative world. GEN is a growing network of regenerative communities and initiatives that bridges cultures, countries, and continents.
What is an Ecovillage?
An ecovillage is an intentional, traditional or urban community that is consciously designing its pathway through locally owned, participatory processes, and aiming to address the Ecovillage Principles in the 4 Areas of Regeneration (social, culture, ecology, and economy into a whole systems design).
Ecovillages are living laboratories pioneering beautiful alternatives and innovative solutions. They are rural or urban settlements with vibrant social structures, vastly diverse, yet united in their actions towards low-impact, high-quality lifestyles.
Why does the concept of a global ecovillage network matter to us? Primarily because, this organization builds bridges between policy-makers, governments, NGOs, academics, entrepreneurs, activists, community networks and ecologically-minded individuals across the globe in order to develop strategies for a global transition to resilient communities and cultures.
As we’re discovering, it’s not as simple as buying land and launching one’s earthships. Bureaucracy is real and must be overcome, co-opted or negotiated.
There are five regional networks comprising the GEN; North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Oceana & Asia. GEN offers consultancy, education, advocacy and youth programs. Its projects exist in Zambia, the UK, Israel, Senegal, Copenhagen and Los Angeles, just to name a few.
Learn more about this great resource at ecovillage.org or click on the links in the Deeper Dive Section of this story at TheClimate.org/episodes.