I'm an Environmentalist, it took me sometime to call myself this. And that’s because I didn’t always feel like I saw myself within the movement.
When I’ve asked other people why they called themselves Environmentalist many times it was because of an experience they had outside in nature. That wasn’t and isn’t my story.
When I reflect and think about who taught me about the environment it was my family.
My earliest memories take place at my great grandmother’s house. I remember seeing jam jars reused as cups and in the fridge as storage containers for other things. I also remember going to the segundas (second hand stores) with her on treasure hunts. My great grandmother’s actions were the ultimate acts of reducing and reusing. "Everything we use comes from something originally found in nature. Using less stuff is the best way to protect nature," I share this with students all of the time and reminded myself that this message has always connected to my life too.
My Mom taught me how to recycle. I remember collecting cans during the year and when summer came around my sisters and I would crush them and turn them in so our family had money, we recycled to get by. Learning later in my life that recycling cans helps protect rainforests, animal habitat, and the people who live nearby makes me think about the natural resources we saved by turning our old cans into new cans. Instead of going back into the rainforest to get the bauxite to make new cans.
Nowadays, I hear so much about food waste, for sure in my house growing up wasting anything wasn’t an option. I'm really mindful about food waste now as an adult. I try to give any extra food to the homeless in my neighborhood. And living in San Francisco I feel really lucky to be able to compost my food scraps instead of sending them to the landfill.
I've become empowered by connecting all of these things I did growing up and what I do now for the environment. I love that I am able to reclaim these actions and help other people connect how their everyday actions collectively protect our planet.