Prevention (USA)

A New Leaf


Leah Thomas is the author of the new book The Intersecti­onal Environmen­talist and the founder of a digital hub for activists. We caught up with her to ask what Earth Day and going green mean in 2022.

How do you look at “environmen­talism” today?

Being an environmen­talist is more than recycling and drinking from reusable straws; it’s more than an abstract idea of “saving the planet.” Being an environmen­talist in 2022 means advocating for communitie­s impacted by pollution, toxic waste, and lack of access to healthy foods and understand­ing which people are impacted the most.

Where does change need to happen?

Environmen­tal hazards are more prevalent in lower-income and Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communitie­s; the goal is to end that. Everyone deserves access to a safe and healthy environmen­t. Clean air, water, and communitie­s are a human right. This is environmen­tal justice, the intersecti­on between social justice and environmen­talism.

How can one person help?

Research nearby environmen­tal and climate justice organizati­ons to learn what actions they are taking and which community issues they are highlighti­ng. Conduct a Google search, ask around, contact a local supervisor, and have a lot of fun getting involved. When locals team up, we often see more immediate results.

What’s your outlook for the future?

I have a lot of hope! Overall awareness about living sustainabl­y is increasing, there are innovation­s like accessible clean-energy vehicles, and environmen­talism seems to be making its way more and more into policy with cross-political support. I’m most inspired by youth activists. The next generation is pushing for real change. —Interview by Jake Henry Smith

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