Becoming an Earth Steward

Becoming an Earth Steward
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Becoming an Earth Steward. Image: Tania Roa

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Becoming an Earth Steward

We are nature. 

Once I truly embraced that statement, the realization propelled me to protect every other part of nature: plants, other animals, and fungi. We are just as much a part of nature as they are. Without nature, we humans cease to exist. Without our stewardship, nature is in danger. This two-way relationship with the Earth requires respect, care, and nourishment for all living kin.

I studied to be an animal advocate. My goal was to join an animal welfare organization, but once I did, I realized advocating for animals was not enough. If I wanted to protect as much nature as I could in my lifetime, I had to also speak up for social justice. Human rights and nature rights are intertwined. We cannot have one without the other. Without human rights, we lose our humanity. Without nature rights, we lose the planet we call home. This second realization led me to the climate justice movement.

I began reading articles and books, watching documentaries, following youth activists on social media, and listening to podcasts as I absorbed information on the various aspects of climate justice. Climate change seeps into every aspect of our lives. The effects can be fatal, but that also means the solutions are life-giving. I also searched for solutions. Since fast fashion is polluting the planet and harming garment workers, I learned the importance of slow fashion. Since wildlife conservation efforts that displace Indigenous peoples are more harmful than beneficial, I learned about community-led conservation efforts. Since white people are often the most recognized in the modern environmental movement, I discovered the urgent need for intersectional environmentalism. I continue to study the problems and solutions that affect us all so that I may continue to spread awareness for climate justice.

Taking action comes naturally when you believe in a cause. 

In my case, once I started, I couldn’t stop. I began looking for ways to get involved. I wrote articles, gave presentations, supported local campaigns, joined protests, volunteered with environmental nonprofits, and ultimately built a career out of climate action. I quickly saw that there are countless ways to take action. As climate activist and communicator Mary Annaïse Heglar writes for Rebecca Solnit’s “Not Too Late,” this is a climate commitment. The work is ongoing. There is no singular way I advocate for the environment. It’s a lifestyle that embeds into every decision I make. 

My decisions stem from my respect for Mother Earth and all she freely offers us. I try not to waste food, I reuse as much as possible – from reusable makeup wipes to pee cloths, and I opt for natural home products to minimize chemical usage. These sustainable practices aren’t only for the sake of the planet. They save me money and time. Being more strategic with my routines and habits allows me to reconnect with nature in small but significant ways. Each habit is a reminder that every action has a ripple effect. I’ve chosen to spread the balance and abundance found throughout nature. 

While I’m proud of my daily sustainable practices, my favorite climate actions include others. Interacting with others during a demonstration reignites the spark that drives me to advocate against the status quo. Gathering with the environmental community deepens my climate commitment by showing me I’m never alone. When we create art that imagines a new world or craft statements intended for powerful governments choosing inaction, we form a vessel that illuminates our irreplaceable connection with the planet.

The more I learn about the links between human and nature rights, the more opportunities appear. My varied interests in regenerative agriculture, locally led wildlife conservation, and the healing benefits of nature continue to evolve. I’ve connected with environmental organizations over Instagram and through word of mouth to deliver presentations. Once I networked within the climate space, I joined a vast movement of passionate individuals wanting to collaborate with other like-minded advocates. Before, during, and after presentations, I learned new ways of rebuilding my relationship with the Earth. Every opportunity reminded me of my purpose – to protect life on Earth. This purpose grounds me physically and spiritually. It inspires me to spread awareness of the power of nature. It has taught me to be more adaptable, observant, and intelligent in the likeness of Earth’s processes. In each presentation I give, I emphasize the need for everyone to find their climate commitment but to do so while keeping the justice movement in mind.  

Individual actions matter, but only if they are part of a collective.

The climate crisis is too large and complex for any individual or one group of people. When people say it will take everyone, they mean it. It is the justice movement of our time, and we won’t succeed if we work in silos. When we each take action in a way that fits into our lifestyle, culture, and life goals, we expand the influence and benefits of climate justice.

Becoming an Earth Steward
Becoming an Earth Steward. Image: Tania Roa

When we work together, we can strive for system change rather than climate change.

My lifestyle choices, career, and persistent pursuit of deepening my climate commitment are almost meaningless without community. My life isn’t a heroic story or out of the ordinary, but one of many pushing for transformational change. We, intersectional environmentalists, push for policies, societal norms, and conversations that radically imagine a world without systemic oppression, greedy overconsumption, or environmental degradation. We are building a world where all people are leaders, all bodies of water are pollution-free, all air is fresh, and all lands are dense with life-giving soil. We want a world where joy and community are the defaults. We want to dismantle the powers trying to prevent this future in the name of short-term profit, and we want the world we crave to become a reality for us all. 

I am one of millions of climate justice advocates. I alone may influence a few people to reconsider their lifestyle choices. However, as a collective, we can do much more. Together, we can create a world we are all proud of living in. 

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