(Re)Meet the Babes Working for a Better World
Ashlie Johnson Coggins
There are countless alarming statistics about the state of our environment that will circulate online this Earth Day. From extinctions to rising insurance costs, the impacts of climate change are seen everywhere, in the heartbreaking and the mundane. And it seems a new cause for concern surfaces every month—sometimes every day.
We are currently in the midst of a “sixth extinction.” Biodiversity is dwindling at head-spinning rates—some insects, birds and fish populations have seen more than 80 percent declines in just a few decades. As the New York Times reported, “Zeroing in on the category we most relate to, mammals, scientists believe that for every six wild creatures that once ate and burrowed and raised young, only one remains.”
These are dire times, certainly, but we still have a small window of opportunity to create change. Past mass extinction periods were caused by external events, such as asteroid impacts. This time, modern human proliferation and the industrialization that came with it have created our current environmental crisis. Similarly, it will take modern human will to stop the runaway train of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Amidst the incessant din of bad news and headlines that cause heart palpitations, there are glimmers of hope. Individual actions build up over time, and while we fight for large-scale action and legislation, we shouldn’t abdicate our individual ability to create meaningful change. Through our own daily lives and routines, we can make a world of difference.
Within the ranks of the Babes Who Hustle community you’ll find incredible women who work tirelessly to leave our home planet a little better than we found it. Read on to become (re)acquainted with their work and learn some of their best tips for making a positive impact on the environment in your day-to-day life.
Allison started her nonprofit, Clean Your 904, because of her passion for sustainability and mentorship. What began as a hobby of organizing beach cleanups became a business making her community a safer and happier place for people and wildlife alike through beach and park cleanups. Allison also leads classroom sessions at local elementary and middle schools to empower students to make an impact on their environment.
Allison’s advice for being more earth friendly is to be mindful of ways you can cut down on your single-use items by making swaps in your everyday routine.
“It’s as simple as bringing your own cup to the cafe for your morning coffee, reusable bottle at work to fill up, bringing bags to the grocery store and getting used to ordering your drinks at bars without a straw,” she says. “Pretty soon these little changes will be effortless in your routine.”
As a conservation initiative coordinator and marine science educator at Coastal Keepers, Sam is advocating and educating in order to protect our oceans. By sharing her passion for the environment with younger generations, she helps to ensure a better future for us all. In her work with Coastal Keepers, she is able to create and implement local conservation initiatives that promote the future of marine resources and our coastal heritage.
Healy has degrees in urban planning and information technology and currently works as a software engineer for a transportation company. She advocates for bicycle commuting as a way to reduce greenhouse gasses and harm to our environment, and as a way to connect more deeply with your community.
Her biggest tip for living a more environmentally friendly life is to simply drive less.
“I know this isn’t an easy feat for most, but it’s as simple as switching up your commute to train, bus or bike once a week, walking instead of driving to the grocery store (with a reusable bag in tow), or just thinking twice before taking that joyride makes a difference,” she says. “It’s not about depriving ourselves, but just being more cognizant of how the small choices we make every day can add up.”
Imogene is a wildlife biologist studying the evolution and genetic structure of snow leopards, while also mentoring future babes who hustle on STEM careers. Her passion for wildlife stems from her curiosity about natural history, her appreciation of the scientific process and her desire to conserve biodiversity.
Sensi is a professional kiteboarder and an entrepreneur with her own bikini company designed for athletic women. Her connection to nature started when she was growing up in rural Northern California and only grew stronger when she began a career that kept her in the great outdoors. Sensi Graves Bikinis are made with the environment in mind, with eco-friendly packaging materials and hang tags, labels and shipping materials made from recycled content.
Her number-one tip to leading a more earth friendly life is to think carefully about what you purchase and consume: “It's easy to move through life just buying all of the shiny, new things, but if you stop to think about who you're purchasing from, what materials it's made out of and if you really need the item in your life, you'll be well on your way to reducing your environmental impact. Consciously consuming less and supporting companies that have green initiatives is an easy (and very impactful) way to be more earth-friendly.”
Shelby owns Dog Day Gardens, where she grows organic vegetable seedlings, installs edible gardens, builds compost, crafts organic drinking vinegars and teaches local families how to grow their own food.
Shelby’s Earth Day tip? Choose local, sustainably raised food: “Industrial agriculture, especially animal agriculture, is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and is one of the largest watershed polluters. On top of that, most food travels around 1,500 miles to get to us, is often packaged in single-use plastic, and is thrown out in massive quantities (causing methane emissions) because it spoils before we can consume it.”
Hilary started Girl Next Door Honey after becoming deeply fascinated by the complexity and beauty of bees. She works diligently to increase San Diego’s population of bees and educate the public about the importance of bees to the environment by offering natural beekeeping classes, hive tours, safe hive removals and more.
With the emotional effects of climate change being felt across the globe, it can be a challenge to feel optimistic about the future. This is especially so for marginalized communities which inevitably feel the impact of natural disasters and tightening resources most immediately and intensely. Major life decisions for younger generations, like whether or not to have children, are being swayed by our warming earth. It’s hard for many families to imagine bringing a child into a world destabilized by rising oceans, increasing natural disasters and catastrophic loss of biodiversity. Yet, despite the “climate grief” many of us are feeling, stories of people and organizations who are willing to tackle the greatest challenge of our time keep us working for a better future, maybe even one more prosperous and balanced than the days we leave behind. With a future full of questions, we are certain of one thing: It is up to us to remake the way humanity exists within this world, and we are rising to the challenge.
Ashlie is a content creator for Burt’s Bees in Durham, NC. She enjoys thinking and learning about human centered design, storytelling, environmentalism, art, culture, and the ways people create identity and connection in the digital world. She’s also a huge fan of cats and karaoke. Follow her on Instagram at @ashlie_elsewhere or visit her home for all things creative at heyashlie.com.