Thomas has dedicated her career to climate activism and intersectional environmentalism.
Known as “GreenGirlLeah” on Instagram, 2022 EBONY Power 100 Awardee Leah Thomas has become something of a pioneer when it comes to diversifying the environmental movement. Reimagining nonprofits in a very Gen-Z way, she founded Intersectional Environmentalist, a collective that provides services and resources for those interested in green causes. Her book, The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet, promotes awareness for saving our Earth while examining the inextricable link between environmentalism, racism and privilege.
As an ‘eco-communicator’, Thomas is passionate about advocating for and exploring the relationship between social justice and environmentalism and is determined to protect vulnerable BIPOC communities. In honor of Earth Month, Thomas shares five actionable tips to help preserve the planet for generations to come.
Supporting local artisans, businesses and local farmers helps the environment in so many ways! Firstly, if you're able to purchase the item from a local store or market, you reduce the additional shipping waste and cut down on any emissions needed to get the item to you. Secondly, it pours back into your local economy and rewards artisans and farmers who are doing business in ways that are less exploitative on the planet and helps keep their businesses running. As a small, sustainable business, it can be difficult to compete with large retailers or build a customer base, and if you're able to support—this is a great way to create a thriving and sustainable local ecosystem.
Find Advice Online
My sustainability journey grew when I started to follow like-minded sustainable content creators who also shared my cultural background. I started to see the ways other Black women were practicing sustainability and infusing cultural traditions around gardening, repairing, reusing, etc. into their practice that made me feel empowered! I've used Pinterest especially for years and made a "Crunchy Granola" titled bored to store sustainable living tips I could come back to and try out. An important tip: You do want to make sure any sustainability tips, especially those that discuss the climate crisis, are fact-checked to avoid spreading climate misinformation which can thrive online.
Use Reusable or Non-Plastic Packaged Products
There are several hair and beauty brands that are testing out aluminum, biodegradable and non-plastic packaging to try out that'll help you reduce your plastic waste. Unfortunately, plastic takes thousands of years to break down in landfills and the abundance of plastic products has led to plastic polluting our oceans, cities and communities. Saying no to single-use plastic when you can is a great way to incorporate sustainability into your life. Even better, is using reusable products like refillable mouthwash or making your own soap and shampoo in your own containers since this cuts down on waste even more.
Repair and Reuse
One of the best ways to incorporate sustainability into your everyday life is to reuse, mend and repair what you already have. This can be turning an old t-shirt into reusable washcloths or makeup wipes, choosing to sew or add a patch to ripped jeans vs. throwing them away, or reusing plastic or paper bags you've gotten from the store in your small trash cans for liners. All of these actions help prevent sending waste to landfills, which is very important because U.S. landfills released an estimated 114.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. In 2019, landfill emissions accounted for 15.1% of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change.
Transform Your Transportation
Biking is a way to lower your carbon emissions and the pollution expended from driving a car; even biking to run errands vs. driving makes a difference. You can also opt to carpool to work or events and utilize public transportation if it's accessible to you to reduce your environmental footprint. Working remotely from home and not commuting to work everyday, when available to you, is also a way to cut down travel emissions to and from work. These little changes add up over time to larger impact.