How to Be a Local Eco-Activist

Meg Haywood Sullivan gives us her 4 tips

By Meg Haywood Sullivan

Meg is a photographer, environmentalist, and on-camera host

THE EXPERT: Meg Haywood Sullivan

A bit about me: I have been a lover of our environment my entire life. My folks raised me to appreciate the gifts that mother nature gave me, while being the best steward of the planet that I can possibly be. I’m a surfer, snowboarder, and activist, yet I realize that the outdoor spaces I adore are running out of time. The clock is ticking, and I’m fed up just like the rest of you.

As a photographer and environmentalist, I am constantly working on projects that inspire the public to care about the planet, while activating a whole new generation of environmentalists, stewards, and voters. On the non-profit side, I am an ambassador for the Surfrider Foundation, Conservation International, and Protect Our Winters.

The biggest loves in my life: surfing, snowboarding, poetry, nature.

THE GOAL: Take the first steps to giving back!

Changing daily habits create social norms, and social norms create change. I’m a huge proponent of leading by example, and although that ONE straw you pick up on the beach isn’t going to change the world. What will is the act of picking it up, which is an act of caring and being a part of something bigger than ourselves. Working together on a community level can inspire waves of change that will lead to action. Taking that first step is the most important thing you can do.

1. Pick up trash at your local beach
Every morning on my walks to check the surf I pick up trash. Not only does this become a habit in my routine, but it also puts in perspective my own consumption habits. How could it not? I can’t tell you the amount of high fives and thank yous I’ve gotten with my bags of trash. And I make sure to do the same when I see my neighbors out there getting their hands dirty! We should all be the best stewards we can be for our own backyards.

2. Become an ally
Become a member for non-profits that really resonate with you. For me, that’s Surfrider Foundation. They organize cleanups on a local level and push for legislative change as well. I’ve been a longtime supporter of them, and if you care about the well-being of our oceans, I strongly recommend becoming a member and supporting what they do.

Learn more:

3. Join local chapter for cleanup times and follow activist’s social media accounts
It’s so important to support the activism in your own backyard. Surfrider has a local LA chapter that has mostly meetings and beach cleanups. It’s an amazing way to give back to your hometown AND meet like-minded folks that want to give back. Also, give the eco-activists you look up to a follow. They are always posting new info, tips, tricks, and inspiration. A few of of my favorites: @gerglong, @carolinegleich, @sierra, @melatiwijsen, @outdoorafro

Learn more:

4. Bring reusable straws / cups / takeout containers
Single-use plastic is a global pandemic. Show your local eateries and boutiques that this is important to you by bringing your own utensils and bags, refusing straws when offered, and speaking with management about more eco-solutions. You are a valued customer, and businesses will listen!

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