I’ve been an environmentalist from day one, growing up flipping over rocks in search of slugs and salamanders, making art from fallen leaves, combing parks for garbage on Earth Day cleanups and researching science fair projects on everything from acid rain to global warming.
Ever since I was a kid, my favorite vacations included the ocean. I fell in love with the beach. Not in the typical sun and sandcastle way, but more of an interest in the complexity and unknown. Falling asleep to the sound of the waves. Spending time exploring living things from big to very small. The shells and creatures who lived in them. The sand, pebbles, and geological adventures that molded them.
My concern for our impact on the planet continued through high school and I went on to earn a degree in Geography and Environmental Studies, with a focus on climate change and political science. In 2013, I received my Climate Reality Leadership training in Chicago, Illinois with Al Gore and participants from over 70 countries. In 2014, I presented my concerns about the impact of fossil fuel infrastructure on communities at the Pipeline Safety Trust conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve toured the tar sands in Alberta and witnessed the oil boom in North Dakota. In March 2015 I completed my PADI Advanced Open Water dive training in Honduras and began to truly understand the diversity of life on this planet and what’s at stake if we don’t protect it.
Formal education and book knowledge provide a very important foundation, but becoming a diver and exploring the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef gave me a greater appreciation of how much there is to protect. Our choices as humans are having such an immense impact on ecosystems that many will never have the opportunity to see. We’re destroying corners of the Earth faster than we can learn about them. This is becoming a common narrative. Too often we fail to recognize what we have until it’s gone. I know I’ve only scratched the surface in exploring the world, but I can’t imagine losing a single piece of what I’ve seen so far.
In 2016, I became a Mom and my whole perspective shifted in an instant. I’ve seen some of the worst we can do, but I must believe that the best is possible. This is why I started Eco Emily.
Being immersed in tough topics such as our addiction to fossil fuels, rising global temperatures, and increasing plastic pollution can be exhausting. Many of us who work every day to tackle these challenges find ourselves questioning whether it’s worth it at many points along the way. Although we celebrate small successes, the immensity of the problems can be debilitating. Eco Emily is all about flipping the switch from focusing on the problems to being determined to find the solutions.
With a renewed sense of urgency, we must address the plastic problem, our addiction to fossil fuels, and the uncertain future of climate change. The rapid rate of human-induced destruction to the planet can be downright depressing, forcing us to avoid action and pretend we’re not part of the problem. We need to shift the discussion. The solutions are available and there are far too many reasons for hope to give up now. It’s time to tackle these challenges with optimism and encourage those who are making great strides in the right direction.
I’ve always refused to accept the status quo. Great achievements have been made by groups who defy it and demand better. Why not dream big? Why not work all our lives to leave the planet healthier for future generations?
I hope to inspire positive change through environmental education and community building. My greatest wish is to encourage others to allow their inner kid to roam free. To be curious, ask questions, explore and share the beauty of this irreplaceable blue planet we call home. We are living in an incredibly connected system. Rather than focusing on the immensity of the issues, let’s begin sharing the solutions. Now is the time for action. Will you join me?