Pop culture has created the green celebrity! Thanks to social media these environmental activists have platforms to spark new environmental policies, conservation efforts for marine life and hundreds of thousands of their followers to adopt solutions to reduce their plastic use. While the world is familiar with one young Swedish environmental activist there are others who have been championing green causes and sparking their own waves of change. We’ve rounded up 12 of these green change makers whose accomplishments are impressive and whose social media pages will inspire your green journey.
Leah Thomas: Environmental Justice
Known as “Green Girl Leah,” Thomas is an author, activist and business strategist. Her book The Intersectional Environmentalist speaks to “an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet.” With environmentalism suffering from the same lack of diversity as many other important activist communities, her message is well-timed.
Ashley Renne Nsonwu: Recycling
A founder, content creator, keynote speaker, activist and vegan lifestyle advocate, Nsonwu is perhaps best known for her recycling advocacy and her sustainable lifestyle. A few years ago, she put her money where her mouth is, giving up a globetrotting lifestyle to reduce her carbon footprint (8% of the world’s carbon emissions stem from tourism) and educate people on how to recycle better. She holds certifications from Cornell U. in “Food and Sustainability” and “Plant Based Nutrition.”
Maxima Acuna: Subsistence Farming
Acuna is a Peruvian subsistence farmer known throughout Latin America for her fight against the one of the world’s most successful gold and copper mining companies- Newmont Mining Corporation. When representatives from the corporation attempted to remove Acuna and her family, she successfully argued her case in court to maintain the right to her home and the land that her family lives off of. Her story has inspired a film and global support while bringing attention to the fight for clean gold and the plight of subsistence farmers. Acuna was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2016.
Jason Hickel: Green Economies
Dr. Jason Hickel is one of the many economists who point out the growth model relied upon by capitalism is 100% unsustainable. Pioneering ideas such as “degrowth” and expanding greatly on the overlap between green living and economics, Dr. Hickel spreads messages about green economies as a visiting senior fellow at the International Inequalities Institute of the London School of Economics. He is also the author of Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World.
Asha de Vos: Marine Conservation
Although blue whales are protected by the Endangered Species Act, they have been classified as endangered since 1966 by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. As a researcher of the Northern Indian Ocean, Dr. de Vos is a pioneer in the area of blue whales. She is the founder of Oceanswell, the first institution for education and research of marine conservation in her native Sri Lanka. She is also a senior TED Fellow, a National Geographic Explorer and one of the BBC’s Top 100 Most Influential Women in 1998. However, the good doctor hardly rests on her laurels, keeping a grueling speaking and research schedule searching for new answers in sustainable marine environmentalism.
Wilson Oryema: Sustainable Fashion
An estimated 2,150 pieces of clothing are thrown away each second and that’s just in the United States. The concepts sustainable and fashion were not used often together in mainstream discussion until multidisciplinary artist Wilson Oryema aligned them in his seminal book WAIT. Working primarily from London, Oryema focuses his work on consumption and its effect on the environment. He is a devout minimalist even as he functions in the stereotypically posh world of fashion as a model. He is known as a very direct speaker, which is something that green work sometimes needs to get its point across to harder heads.
Hugo Tagholm: Ocean Conservation
The industrial age has seen the ocean become the Earth’s sewage system for industrial waste and carbon emissions. As we can imagine, numerous studies show how the impacts of human sewage will eventually destroy coastal populations and marine life. As the leader of the Surfers Against Sewage initiative and the Ocean Conservation All Party Parliamentary Group, Hugo Tagholm is a well known environmental activist in his native England. Through these organizations Tagholm brings attention to marine conservation causes with initiatives like the Plastic Free Awards.
Jerome Foster: Fridays for Future
As a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, Jerome Foster advocates for Black and Indigenous visibility in the environmental movement. He expresses his talents as a political advisor, advocate of voting rights and a climate change advocate. He is known as a key organizer in the Fridays for Future Washington events and serves as the OneMillionOfUs executive director. Foster is also known as an expert orator who has given speeches at high profile events such as the United Nations Youth Climate Summit and the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights.
Xiuhtezcatl Martine: Climate Change Action
Xiuhtezcatl, also known as “X,” Martinez came to national recogition when he was one of the twelve plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States to hold the United States government accountable for failing to take affirmative actions on climate change. Through his musical talents, his song “Speak for the Trees,” has inspired the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and he has served as a youth director of Earth Guardians, a longstanding climate activist organization with international reach.
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson: Ocean Sustainability
Dr. Anya Elizabeth Johnson is a Harvard University graduate and founder of the consulting firm Ocean Collective. She has served as national partnership director for the March For Science and has fought the good fight as an adjunct professor at New York University and an employee of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Peter Kalmus: Reducing Fossil Fuels
It doesn’t hurt to have a rocket scientist who is also an environmental activist on your team! Alongside being the revered author of Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, Dr. Kalmus is a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. He founded the app Earth Hero: Climate Change, and he started the website noflyclimatesci.org to help reduce the carbon footprint of frequent flyers. Dr. Kalmus also advocates for solutions that will help companies rely less on fossil fuels.