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7 Incredible Women on the meaningful planet-conscious commitments they are making in 2021

To mark Earth Month, PORTER asks seven women putting meaningful environmental action at the forefront of their work to share the commitments they are making this year and the things that are bringing them hope, from the inclusivity of climate-justice movements to widening conversations around sustainability

Mikaela Loach, climate-justice activist

A commitment I’m making in 2021 is to organize and connect other people to movements. One of the most effective ways that we can achieve climate justice is through mass movements putting pressure on governments and other powerful institutions to take action. Climate justice is more than making individual changes to our lifestyles.

In 2020, the conversation around climate shifted. Finally, people who had previously been resistant to ideas of climate justice, and just wanted to focus on the climate science, were waking up to the fact that the climate crisis is a justice issue; that climate justice is racial justice and indigenous justice and migrant justice and gender justice and so much more. This shift in understanding is hugely meaningful. I hope that, in 2021, we will take all these learnings and ‘unlearnings’ and put them into action. Because that’s what hope is. It’s action. As Rebecca Solnit says in Hope In The Dark: “Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” @mikaelaloach

Mikaela Loach
Anna Foster

Anna Foster, founder of E.L.V. Denim

E.L.V. Denim was born from an ethos of zero waste and, from the outset, we were committed to making conscious environmental choices. By using only post-consumer waste to make our pieces, the material used has zero impact on the environment. Plus, we are giving discarded jeans a second life. In 2021, we are taking the next step to create a circular economy for the brand so that all E.L.V. Denim products can be reworked once again, meaning that they can have a third, fourth life – or even more… making good the damage to the environment that it cost to make the denim in the first place.

When I started this brand in 2018, only a handful of people truly understood the meaning of sustainability and how vitally important it is. Now, just three years later, it’s on every business’s agenda. The next step is for us all to put it into everyday practice to ensure it’s no longer a trend but, I hope, a better way of life.

Allison Janae Hamilton, artist

I’m committing this year to continue highlighting intersectional voices in the conversations on climate change and environmental justice. I’m inspired by the work of grass-roots organizations such as Acres of Ancestry and similar initiatives. It’s encouraging to see conversations around environmentalism that give a more comprehensive perspective about the ways that climate change is impacting populations today in various ways, particularly as it relates to environmental justice. @allisonjanaehamilton

Allison Janae Hamilton
Melissa Hemsley

Melissa Hemsley, chef and cookbook author

Firstly, I’m committing this year to keep talking about sustainability on a daily basis, whether on social media or in WhatsApp chats with loved ones. And to practically show how we can make so many planet-friendly steps each day through food. We can vote for more sustainable farming practices and we can choose to waste less at every meal. Globally, a third of food that is grown is wasted, which is a tragedy. Second, is to keep putting my money where my mouth is – to keep spending money with brands and shops that are themselves trying to be more planet-conscious, [such as] independent refill shops, which are such a brilliant way to shop with less plastic.

The greater sense of community that has sprung up in neighborhoods over the past year, as we have pulled together, gives me hope. I really felt it in my lovely area in east London and heard lots of similar stories from friends all around the UK, in NYC and across the world. There’s been more sharing – from neighbors dropping off ready-to-eat meals for key workers to picking up shopping and prescriptions for more vulnerable members of the community, helping out at allotments, clearing up litter in the parks, volunteering at food banks and supporting local farm vegetable boxes.

Sustainability starts with each of us and needs all of us. This great quote by Anne-Marie Bonneau sums it up: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” @melissa.hemsley

Tata Harper, beauty founder

Making our world healthier, happier and more prosperous has always been the core of the Tata Harper brand values. While we live those values through our work each day, Earth Month is a special time for us to focus on education and giving back – and to set new, ambitious goals as a brand. We are deepening our commitment to Trees for the Future, an organization that shares our values and understands the critical connection between people, prosperity and the health of our planet. For 31 years, its Forest Garden Approach has been transforming communities in sub-Saharan Africa and replenishing our environment. It helps farmers to plant thousands of trees that protect and bring nutrients back to the soil. It also helps farmers grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. Forest Garden farmers gain increases in income and access to nutrition, even in the first year, all while improving the environment.

Sustainability is a work in progress. So many things are changing and there are new developments all the time. One has to keep an open mind to all innovation and see what one can incorporate successfully. The next frontier [for us] is refills – we need to be able to reuse packaging. It’s sad to recycle bottles that are still fully functional, with a working pump and cap, when it still has so much life left, and recycling is not foolproof.

Tata Harper
Pippa Small

Pippa Small, jewelry designer

The most important part of [my] business for me is knowing we can transform lives – for example, working with young designers/makers and seeing their confidence blossom with successful designs and subsequent sales through our Next Generation project. So much of the basis of the Pippa Small design comes from the natural world around us – the materials we use come from the earth, and culture stems from the landscapes. We find ourselves creating a vital circle. [And] we take great care where possible, sourcing our gold from Fairmined or small artisanal gem mines, where we know who, where and how the stones are mined.

The next generation [of designers] is inspiring, through their demands for cleaner practices, transparency and traceability within the industry. The growth of ethical business practices and seeing young women taking their power back gives me hope for the future.

Kristy Drutman, environmental activist

I’m committing this year to reuse and refurbish more of my single-use items to prevent more items from ending up in landfill. And [I’m feeling hopeful because of] the establishment of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. I am very hopeful that our policymakers will listen and include the voices of climate-justice leaders from across the country. Also, I’m inspired by seeing so many emerging BIPOC voices speaking up about climate justice and engaging their communities – both online and offline – about these issues, more than I’ve ever witnessed before. @browngirl_green

Kristy Drutman

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown