In recent months, the Black Lives Matter movement has exposed how prevalent racism is across industries and how standing up to injustice is necessary in all fields, from media to law enforcement, from athletics to art, and beyond. The environmentalist movement is no exception. Environmental activist Leah Thomas, known on Instagram as @greengirlleah, is making it known that even in our search for sustainable materials, vegan foods, and renewable energy, anti-racism still matters.
As protests boiled over in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Thomas reminded her followers—many who likely follow her for her sustainable and green lifestyle—that social justice does not exist outside the realm of environmentalism; It’s part of it. “It is unfair to opt in and out of caring about racial injustices when many of us cannot,” she wrote at the time. Not long after, she launched Intersectional Environmentalist, a website led by activists and advocates that provides information, resources, and actionable steps to “dismantle systems of oppression in the environmental movement.”
“As an environmentalist, I always felt like there was one thing missing in the movement: true justice, diversity, and inclusion,” Thomas tells BAZAAR.com. “I created the Intersectional Environmentalist platform to help environmentalists recognize environmental racism and to provide them with resources to better understand how someone’s culture can both positively and negatively impact their relationship to nature. Intersectional environmentalism should be important to all of us, because we need to save our home planet and also empower, uplift, and advocate for voices that are often unheard and left out of the climate conversation.”
There are many ways to participate in the movement, but when it comes to shopping, when consumption is necessary, one can opt for ethical brands either run by or supporting marginalized communities. Here, Thomas shares some of her favorite sustainable pieces from Black-owned businesses or brands benefitting BIPOC.
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1 Muhumusa Traditional Waist Beads
I have several of these waist bands from Fitbeads, a Black-owned business, and they add an extra pop to any swimsuit look or cropped top.
2 Vegan Crema
This moisturizer is so dreamy and works well with my oily skin. The owner is Latinx, and I love the branding, ingredients, and how much cultural appreciation the brand has.
What’s not to love about a Black-owned, made-to-order gold choker necklace? It’s an easy, effortless, and edgy pick.
4 Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry
This book is the first anthology that focuses on nature writings by African-American poets, an often unexplored genre. This book helped me better understand my cultural and historic relationship to nature.
5 Clean Greens Face Mask
I love that this face mask lets me look like an alien for the 10 to 15 minutes I allow it to set— oh, and the incredible ingredients! 10/10 and a Black-owned business.
6 Always Pan
This is the dreamiest piece of cookware of all time, I didn’t use it for a month, because I just wanted to stare at it! Plus, the brand has social justice and ethical manufacturing embedded into its mission.
7 The Dawn Dress Petites
A sustainably made classic that also comes in petite sizes for the five-foot-four-and-under club!
8 Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves
This is such an inspiring collection of essays from Black women writers, curated by the founder of the Well-Read Black Girl book club.
9 Botanical Cleansing Oil
I’m really particular about what I put on my face, and this oil is my favorite. I use it before bed or in the morning if I’d like a dewy look. It has clean ingredients, and part of the brand’s proceeds go to supporting environmental activism.
10 Yayoi Circle Bag
This BIPOC-owned sustainable business makes the coolest bags I’ve ever seen. Each one is a very unique statement, but still practical.
11 Multi-Color Ceramic Candle
I love ceramic candles, and candles in general, plus this brand is Black-owned and crafts hand-poured products made not too far from me.
12 For the Next Leaders Hummingbird Track Jacket
I love the retro stripes, the humming bird, and that this brand supports indigenous activism.
13 Baby Heart Studs
This Black-owned brand uses upcycled materials to create stunning jewelry.
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