April is Earth Month, and it provides a great opportunity to consider how we can ideally live better, sustainably, and with minimal impact on the environment. This is where Ashley Renne Nsonwu comes in.

She left her “glamorous” travel influencer career in 2019 to reduce her carbon footprint and instead educate people about sustainable and vegan living. She became a host on the Smart. Healthy. Green. Living streaming channel (SHG Living), joined the Creative Council board of Climate Power 2020, and started volunteering as a Wildlife Transporter for WREN. She is now widely recognized by her audience as a champion for people of color, the planet, and animals with a focus on teaching parents how to raise the next generation of eco-conscious, vegan kids.

Nsonwu shares with EBONY why she has chose to lead an eco lifestyle, how she introduced her family to it, and offers advice about how we can all do our best to push sustainable living forward. 

EBONY: What drew you to this type of lifestyle?

Ashley Renne Nsonwu: I originally started as a travel blogger until a trip to Bali where I witnessed the horrific effects of environmental pollution inspired me to change my lifestyle and the direction of my brand. The more I traveled, the more I noticed how much the planet was being destroyed, animals were being exploited, and people of color were being disproportionately impacted by health problems and climate change. My passion switched to educating others on how we can help protect animals, the environment, and our health through a sustainable, vegan lifestyle.

How are you pushing sustainability forward?

I push sustainability forward by showing families how to embed eco-friendly habits and veganism into their lifestyles. It may sound cliché, but children really are the future. Gen Z and Gen Alpha are going to change the world. Not only are they the most diverse generations we’ve ever seen here in America, but they are also shaping up to be the most vocal. They have a fearlessness about them when it comes to rejecting American policies that don’t align with their values. They have the will to change the political landscape of this country, which is important because, without policy change, our country will never be able to evolve from these outdated systems that are harming people, the planet and animals. By showing families how to ingrain sustainability into their kids’ values, I hope these next generations will be able to implement the kind of change our generation and those before us couldn’t.

Ashley Renne Nsonwu with her son. Image: courtesy of Ashley Renne Nsonwu.

Why is a vegan lifestyle important to you?

To me, a vegan lifestyle is a commitment to compassion and recognizing the right for others to live. People forget that humans are animals too. Why do we treat our fellow animal friends as commodities instead of as individuals? As a Black and Brown person, I can’t help but feel triggered by the oppressive, cruel systems we subject non-human animals to. They don’t want to be property. They want to be free, just as we do. There isn’t a single sentient being on this planet who wants to spend their lives locked away in a zoo, aquarium or farm awaiting their inevitable deaths. Being vegan has so many positive ripple effects that also extend to the planet, our health and even the well-being of other people who are all harmed by the animal agriculture system.