In the wake of the injustices the black community is facing right now, we should be doing all we can to support them. I can only imagine the heart ache they are feeling right now. It must be unbearable. To BIPOC, I’m sorry, I’m listening, and I’m learning. I’m far from perfect, and I’m not a social justice expert, but I hear you and see you and will continue to. To white people, even if you cannot protest or donate money, there are so many ways to be actively anti-racist and make a difference. As for me, I figured what better way to help than use my platform for good? I thought it would be amazing to highlight some inspirational black environmentalists on the blog. It’s important to realize that communities of color will more likely be exposed to the ramifications of climate change the fastest. It’s harder for black, brown and low-income communities to have access to clean water, air and natural spaces. What’s worse is these communities are more likely to live in areas exposed to toxic waste, airports, industrial zones, landfills, and other environmental hazards. To become better environmentalists, we must acknowledge environmental justice and environmental racism are very much interlinked.
Also, again, please note I am not a social justice expert, nor am I an expert on environmental racism. That said, I am actively learning and doing my part to educate myself. I don’t have all the answers, but I do believe we must all be held accountable and show up for black people during this time. Staying silent just isn’t acceptable. Without further ado, here are 8 black environmentalists you need to follow on Instagram.
8 Black Environmentalists You Need to Follow on Instagram
What is environmental justice and environmental racism?
Before I dive in, I’d like to address these two important terms.
According to the EPA, environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys:
- the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and
- equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
Sadly, right now, this goal is not being achieved. That’s due to environmental racism, which refers to the way in which minority group neighborhoods (predominately populated by BIPOC) are burdened with a higher number of hazards, including garbage dumps, toxic waste facilities, and other sources of environmental pollution.
Not to mention many low income black neighborhoods tend to be in food deserts, where access to healthy whole foods is hard to come by. Usually people in these areas have to rely on convenience stores for cheap processed foods that will feed their family for the week. This results in more food packaging waste and can lead to health problems over time, due to the high amount of salt and artificial ingredients in processed foods.
How can we fight for environmental justice?
As I’ve said before – I am not a social justice expert. But, I am learning. And there are tons of free resources out there to get your eyes on. Environmental justice begins by striving for racial equality and justice. And it’s a work in progress – but that’s okay.
As Ljeonma Oluo so wisely said, “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”
The post below is a great place to start.
Many black people are being overwhelmed right now with DMs in their Instagram accounts from well meaning white people, asking them to explain things to them. Please do not do this. Black people are exhausted, tired, and don’t owe you any explanations. They’re hurting the most right now.
Instead, see what free resources they already have made available in the past. Many of the black environmentalists I’m about to list have blogs, or tons of informative Instagram posts you can delve into and read for yourself.
Without further ado, here are 8 black environmentalists you need to follow on Instagram below.
8 Black Environmentalists to Follow on Instagram
Leah Thomas is an activist and eco-communicator who talks a lot about intersectional environmentalism, which is an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It’s another important term that must be talked about right now.
Leah is also a writer for The Good Trade – an online publication that covers sustainable fashion and lifestyle. I really love her article on intersectional environmentalism. She also has her own website, Green Girl Leah, which covers fashion, green beauty, wellness, lifestyle and home.
On Instagram, she created an amazing post that went viral – Environmentalists for Black Lives Matter – that explains more about intersectional environmentalism, and how you can pledge to be an ally. It’s an extremely informative post so be sure to check it out here.
In this post, Leah says, “social justice cannot wait. It is not an optional ‘add-on’ to environmentalism. It is unfair to opt in and out of caring about racial injustices when many of us cannot.”
Go give @GreenGirlLeah a follow.
Poppy Okotcha is a permaculture designer and organic grower based in the UK. She creates tons of content around growing your own food and offers some amazing tips.
She often talks about the connections between human health and planetary health – how they are both interlinked so closely.
In one of her Instagram posts, Poppy says, “The food we put inside us nourishes on so many levels. Physically, emotionally, it can lovingly connect us with others and it can connect us to the earth, the seasons, giving us a sense of place and time. Our food gives us a direct link to the land. When we begin to explore our own health, very quickly we realize it is totally connected to that of the soils, the eco systems, the whole planet at large.”
She often shares gardening tips and holistic recipes that help support your own health, and that of the planet’s. She frequently uses upcycled materials to sow her seeds and transplant fruits and veggies, which is amazing.
Go give @Poppyokotcha a follow.
Christopher Bradshaw is a social justice entrepreneur who founded Dreaming Out Loud, an organization dedicated to food justice, urban farming and creating economic opportunities to marginalized community.
Dreaming Out Loud is based in the D.C. metro area. They help build more resilient communities with greater access to education and a healthy environment for all – not just a few.
They grow fresh food and give it to people in need. Since March (the start of the coronavirus pandemic), they’ve worked with community partners to get over 80,000 meals for neighbors in need.
Seeing as so many black, low income communities are based in food deserts, the work Dreaming Out Loud does is so incredibly important. It provides food security to those who need it most – a very important aspect to limiting food waste, a major contributor to climate change.
Go give @Doldc a follow.
Lauren Ritchie is the founder of The Eco Gal, a blog dedicated to sustainability. Lauren lives in the Bahamas and loves sharing her tips and tricks to living a more sustainable life.
She’s currently studying sustainable development and political science at the Columbia University in New York City. She has hopes of one day working with the United Nations, or non-governmental organizations, on international policy-making for sustainability issues.
She’s constantly sharing informative posts on her instagram account about sustainability, mainly highlighting zero waste living and plant-based living.
“The further I delved into the eco-community…the more apparent it became that there was a severe lack of engagement from not only young people but also from people of color, namely Caribbean people, in the climate conversation,” Lauren says. This, and her passion for writing, inspired her to create her blog, The Eco Gal.
Go give @Itsecogal a follow.
Addie Fisher is the founder of Old World New, a sustainable and eco-friendly blog. She’s a sustainable living enthusiast and a thrift fashion lover.
She was an architecture major in college, but then discovered her love for sustainability while seeking more knowledge on historic preservation. Her focus shifted from becoming an architect to educating those around her on living a more sustainable life.
Addie also talks about diversity in the sustainability field and firmly believes the future of the planet cannot rest on a select few. It’s up to all of us – not just white women – to help save the planet, which is why it’s so important for black environmentalists like Addie to be seen and heard.
“I want my voice to be heard as a black woman who is passionate about the environment, and so I made it happen,” Addie says, “I’ll keep making it happen, and I’m ecstatic to see so many other people that don’t look like the stereotypical ‘green goddess’ doing the same.”
She often features black owned sustainable businesses on her Instagram account. I love her post about black owned tea brands!
Go give @Oldworldnew a follow.
Marie uses her platform to share her zero waste journey, along with actionable tips to live more sustainably. She advocates for both people and the planet and offers information about racial justice.
Marie is a college student in the midwest of the US, and she works at a shelter for homeless youth. She started a sustainability journey less than a year ago and had no clue where to go. She’s been growing ever since.
“I also want to teach about the root causes behind these issues,” Marie says, “and emphasize how social justice and privilege are a crucial part of the climate crisis conversation.”
She welcomes beginners to climate and racial justice, as well as seasoned experts. She recently created a fantastic post about the dos and dont’s of how to ally.
Go give @Wastefreemarie a follow.
Alyson Morgan is a mother, photographer and herbalist behind Earth Star Herbals, a website all about herbalism. Her instagram platform is all about living wildly, simply and slowly.
Alyson graduated from University of California, Davis with a degree in international relations and then set off to find a slower, simpler sustainable lifestyle in the midwest. She lives with her husband, AJ, on their tiny homestead, raising their daughter, Magnolia, and son, Griffin, to be conscious humans.
She often talks about mothering, homesteading, plant medicine, and her low waste cottage. All her posts are both visually appealing and loaded with helpful, informative captions.
Alyson also has a shop on her site of flower essences, designed for deep healing and connecting to the earth.
In terms of what you’ll find on her Instagram, Alyson says to expect, “earth love, good eats, my moon obsession, Astrology, herbal learnings, all things gardening + homestead, my photography, my dabblings into tarot, self care, and overall things that feed my soul + heal my body that I love to share with others.”
Go give @Alysonsimplygrows a follow.
Ashley Renne is a blogger and a host of Smart, Healthy, Green Living, a streaming service for garden and home enthusiasts. Her blog, Travel Lushes, is all about eco travel, vegan lifestyle, and smart tech.
Her instagram is full of tips to lead a more sustainable life, including tips on veganism. You can find a ton of cool vegan recipes, upcycling tips, and environmental news on her feed.
She believes heavily in wellness of self and wellness of the planet. The two are very connected, and she is always making that connection in all of her posts. I really love the little info graphics she creates – especially this one about regrowing food from scraps.
In terms of what inspired her blog, Ashley says, “one day while traveling in Bali, I visited a beach that was littered in huge piles of trash. I was never the same after that. With a newfound passion for environmentalism, it became my mission to travel sustainably and live an adventurously green life.”
Go give @Heyashleyrenne a follow.
Next steps: Don’t stop here
For my white readers, don’t let this be all you do. Keep learning about environmental racism, justice and intersectionality. Keep being actively anti-racist. Our work is far from over – this is just the start.
Definitely do some of your own research and spend time learning all you can. Our planet, and its people, will begin to heal this way. Both are linked together, and we cannot forget that – even after #BlackLivesMatter stops trending on social media.
To all the people of color reading this, know that I stand with you. That I may not ever know your suffering, but I acknowledge it. I see you and I hear you. And I will continue to do so. I will continue to listen to your voices and share your work.
For everyone, here’s a list of environmental justice groups worth looking into (though there are plenty more, I’m sure):
- Center for Diversity & The Environment
- Center for Health, Environment & Justice
- Center on Race, Poverty & The Environment
- Green For All
- Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice