With an eco-fashion line that continues to grow each and every year and her own nonprofit Maya’s Ideas 4 the Planet, Maya Penn is making her mark as one of Gen-Z’s leaders in sustainability and environmental activism.
For Maya, “Kindness is caring about the wellbeing of the people and the planet.” Following Maya’s lead, we invite you to practice making the world a kinder and greener place. To help you get started, here are just four ways you can start to be kind to the environment:
1. Define what sustainability looks like for you: “Everyone’s sustainability journey will look different, and everyone’s sustainability lifestyle will look different,” Maya said. With consideration of your time, resources, and energy, take a moment to think about what going “green” means to you – this will help you create a reasonable sustainability plan that you can execute.
2. Remember the little things: Don’t underestimate the power of turning off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth or unplugging any devices you’re not using, as keeping devices plugged in contributes to “phantom power.” As Maya said, “Every little action makes a huge difference on a collective scale.”
3. Educate yourself on sustainability and diversity: Sustainability can’t happen without diversity, and in order to create a greener world, we need to amplify marginalized voices and ensure Black, Brown, and Indigenous populations are part of these important conversations.
Furthermore, “A lot of sustainable living is not sustainable for low-income communities,” Maya notes. Food deserts, for example – which are areas that have limited access to affordable and healthy foods – exist in more places where marginalized communities live. By educating yourself on food deserts and other issues that tie into the inequalities of sustainability, you’ll be able to learn how you can put your privilege to use.
“Kindness isn’t about being passive,” Maya said. “We have to actively protect marginalized communities.”
4. Turn sustainability steps into self-care tips: Try to weave sustainability steps into your everyday life by connecting them to activities that bring you joy and encourage you to take care of yourself. “There’s a lot of ways to utilize sustainability in a way that’s fun,” Maya said. “You can plant a pollinator garden for some example, upcycle clothes, thrift shop, complete a DIY project, or try a new vegan recipe.”
In whichever way you decide to be kind to the environment, remember that every single action counts – even if we don’t see the impact immediately. “I have to remember to look at the collective picture,” Maya said. “There’s change being made in ways we may not be able to fully grasp yet.”
Tell us how you’re being kind to the environment this Earth Month by submitting your story to us here!