My climate story started a decade ago. Let me set the scene for you. I was in my 20s, had a degree in Pastry Arts, a dream of writing cookbooks, and was engaged to a member of the United States military. It's a strange place to start thinking about the environment, but when we decided to have our son, our climate crisis hit me, hard.
I couldn’t imagine bringing a human into this complicated, often cruel world, where people cared more about money than people and the environment. I knew that as a parent I’d raise him to care, love, and take care of others and our planet.
But, as most parents, I still had fears. Mine were centered around the world he would grow up in - polluted air, trash-filled seas, and the world heating up. A 2018 Washington Post article said that by 2050, when our son will be just 37 years old, in Washington DC, near where we
are currently stationed, summers will see regular 95+ degree days and 75+ degrees nights as commonplace, not as unusual heat waves. And according to Earthday.org, in that same year, there will be more plastic (by weight) in the ocean than fish. What a terrible world to have to live in, especially for a person like our son who is so connected to the ocean and it’s beautiful creatures.
If I dreamed of a better world for my son, one of beautiful beaches full of sand, not trash, plentiful healthy foods growing, clean air to breathe, and a comfortable environment, then there had to be change. That’s when I started my journey to reduce my carbon footprint and do better for our world. It wasn’t an overnight change, more gradual. But I knew that little changes would lead to bigger changes over time as I learned more about the climate crisis.
My first environmental steps were simple ones: more recycling, reducing our use of plastics, becoming a little more sustainable every year, and learning all I could so I could do better each day and pass those lessons on to our son.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2020. I accomplished my goal of writing cookbooks. I am a stay-at-home mom mentoring our then 6-year-old who, for several years, has attended online school. I’m teaching him to appreciate nature and all things in it by doing anything and everything we can to protect it.
But then the pandemic hit. I found myself quarantined in our home for months on end. It was a desperately hot summer; too hot to go for our normal hike with our son. We couldn't go out and explore this beautiful state we only moved to in the summer of 2019 because of fears of COVID-19. And I had a lot of time to sit and wonder where I fit into this crazy world.
That’s when knew I needed to do more than change our small family’s actions. It was this pull and aching desire to make a bigger difference. I wanted to learn more so I sat and watched endless documentaries and read whatever I could find. But it didn’t feel like it was enough. Then I saw The Climate Reality Project global online training pop-up on social media. It’s something I had seen before but as a stay-at-home mom, going on a trip to an in-person training really never worked out, so an online option was golden. This was my chance. And I took it. Through Climate Reality I started my life as an environmentalist. I started attending a bunch of
meetings and webinars, hosted by various organizations, where I met the most amazing community of leaders and volunteers who work tirelessly to make change in their community, state, and country. These people have become such close friends and mentors. They encourage, guide, and inspire me daily. They helped me find my place in this world. After my Climate training I wanted to learn more. I ended up taking a couple of online classes, one through Harvard, to expand my knowledge and give me more confidence in the field. This education propelled me to keep educating myself on all topics concerning the environment, including how trash and litter play a role in climate change.
So our family made trash pickups a regular deal. We started volunteering at a local park doing their monthly cleanup and we began picking up trash on our family walks. Our son jokingly said we were, "Trash Pirates," because we were hunting for trash. And the name stuck. It was then I realized where I wanted to focus my time - on educating young people, families, and teachers about the problem with litter in our communities and climate change in our world. That's how OfficialTrashPirates.com started.
You never know what your future will hold. But I hope for you, your family, and your community, it has neighborhood cleanups, lessoning your climate footprint, and doing all you can to help clean up this beautiful planet.
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