EVOLVER | LEAH THOMAS

Leah Thomas

environmental activist & writer

Ventura, CA


 

“Social justice cannot wait. It is not an optional “add-on” to environmentalism.” 

in May 2020, Leah Thomas posted a graphic on her Instagram that went viral — we’re talking over a million impressions — and ultimately brought social justice to the forefront of environmental conversation. “it is unfair to opt in and out of caring about racial injustices when many of us cannot,” she wrote. “these injustices are happening to our parents, our children, our family and our friends. i’m calling on the environmentalist community to stand in solidarity with the black lives matter movement and with Black, Indigenous + POC communities impacted daily by both social and environmental injustice.” here, why she does it, and what she wants you to know about it.


 

what do you do — professionally, personally, passionately? 

“professionally, i speak about intersectional environmentalism. i create content for my sustainable-living Instagram blog @greengirlleah. and i am the current CEO of Intersectional Environmentalist, a start up that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. what i do professionally bleeds into what i do personally and passionately, especially as i work to normalize intersectional environmentalism as a concept.” 

 

can you tell us about intersectional environmentalism in a nutshell? 

“the concept stems from the idea that injustice to both people and the planet are interconnected, and it aims to amplify the efforts of diverse activists working to find solutions to the climate crisis. it serves as a resource for becoming an activist.” 

 

what path led you here? 

“i studied environmental science and policy in school, and I started to become heavily involved in Black Lives Matter in 2014. my passion for environmentalism and social justice started to blur, and seeing the interconnectedness pushed me in this direction. then, with the 2020 resurgence of Black Lives Matter, i just felt i had to say something. it just felt right. all my years of climate activism added up and it felt time to push for a more inclusive environmental movement.”

 

this fall is a big one with election day. (obviously.) what do you see as particular opportunity for the cause this fall? (or put slightly less positively — what’s at stake?) 

“i’ve never felt something is all or nothing, even as we get closer to election. we just don’t have that long when, say, hoping the temperature of the world doesn’t increase. we need to make some serious changes if we want to keep the global temperature change increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius. climate policy needs to be a priority.” 


[ed. note: according to The New York Times, “the consequences of jumping to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius… could expose tens of millions more people worldwide to life-threatening heat waves, water shortages and coastal flooding. Half a degree may mean the difference between a world with coral reefs and Arctic summer sea ice and a world without them.”]

 

what we should we know now? 

“follow diverse climate activists to learn about certain hyperlocal policy decisions you might not discover otherwise. learn from those on the front lines fighting the good fight.”

 

what are some easy action items?

“the first step is education — being educated can help people become confident to go out and create change. learn about intersectional theory and the environment movement, spend some time getting context is a good first sept.

 

how do you unwind? what are you watching? 

“Lovecraft County on HBO. or Real Housewives of Atlanta or Potomac. with tv, and especially reality tv, you can turn your brain off. it has nothing to do with, you know, saving the plant. it keeps me sane.”

 

what are you wearing? 

“époque’s orion II legging. super cute.”

 

mantra?

“progress over perfection. things take time. little steps in the right direction are better than no steps at all.”


 

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