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Lindsey Coffey: “We must also provide opportunities”

We must also provide opportunities. Our younger generation is hands-on and involved. With ‘Gen Z’ we see protests in the streets and on social media, along with hashtag movements. Give them the opportunity to physically and socially engage in the cause. Inspiring an emotional connection is also important. By generating a personal climate story, whether it […]

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We must also provide opportunities. Our younger generation is hands-on and involved. With ‘Gen Z’ we see protests in the streets and on social media, along with hashtag movements. Give them the opportunity to physically and socially engage in the cause.

Inspiring an emotional connection is also important. By generating a personal climate story, whether it be through connecting with nature, witnessing a natural disaster, or having a loved one fall ill due to the effects of climate change, will help induce an intimate connection sparking a passion to protect and conserve.


As part of my series about what we must do to inspire the next generation about sustainability and the environment, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Coffey.

Lindsey is an American model, activist, and an international beauty pageant titleholder holding the title of Miss Earth 2020. She is the first U.S. representative to be crowned Miss Earth. Her passions include law, animal rights, and environmental protection. With a background in political science, she is taking on Capitol Hill, advocating for global conservation while encouraging others to take action in saving our planet.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up in the country, an hour south of Pittsburgh, Penn. I spent most of my time outdoors and feeding my neighbors. They were cows! Growing up in a small country town, I involved myself in several school extra-circulars and I dedicated a lot of time to athletics, ending my career as one of the best high jumpers in the state of Pennsylvania. Throughout my youth and into adulthood, I was a nature enthusiast and an avid traveler, walking on six of our seven continents. Today, I continue to immerse myself in the beauty of this planet, constantly turning life into an absolute adventure.

Was there an “aha moment” or a specific trigger that made you decide you wanted to become a scientist or environmental leader? Can you share that story with us?

I have always been an environmentalist, even before I knew what that term meant. I felt the desire to care for animals and pick up litter on the side of the road, leading me to volunteer with the Humane Society and join the Adopt-a-Highway program. Nature became my emotional outlet and sanctuary. Then in 2018, I experienced my first natural disaster. I was in Cape Town, South Africa during the water crisis that became global news. The phrase “Day Zero” was coined, leading to a countdown of the day we would officially run out of water. As people took to the streets with buckets gathering water from city officials, I wanted to escape back to America to save myself from the traumatic and challenging experience. Yet running was only a short-term solution. South Africa may have been one of the first countries to run out of water but they would not be the last. I stayed in South Africa, I endured, and I celebrated with the country when “Day Zero” was not reached. That experience was the moment the climate crisis became my reality, and that moment was when I decided I had to do something about it.

Is there a lesson you can take out of your own story that can exemplify what can inspire a young person to become an environmental leader?

Everyone has their own climate story. It’s about finding yours that connects you to this planet, which will in turn inspire your action to save her. You don’t have to experience a natural disaster, instead, you may have a loved one who has fallen ill due to the effects of climate change, or you discovered a personal connection to nature as I did at a young age. Everyone is susceptible to being negatively affected by the climate crisis. It is not a matter of where, it is a matter of when. The climate crisis does not see socio-economic status, gender, or geographic location. Although certain communities and countries are being affected now, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the world experiences the same impact. The only way to alter the timeline is by utilizing your voice, taking action, and encouraging others to do the same.

Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?

As Miss Earth 2020, I engage with a national and international audience through interviews, webinars, podcasts, and panel discussions. I was a panelist in the Philippines for an Eco Leader Bootcamp, discussed sustainability and mental health concerning the climate on the Wellnessible podcast, and interviewed with ABC news detailing the mission that is Miss Earth.

As a volunteer, I clean our rivers with Clean Ways, organize events with Garbo Grabber and The Clean Earth Project, and pick up litter with Downtown Partnership.

As a WWF Ambassador, I participate in Lobby Day on Capitol Hill lobbying for nature and wildlife conservation with our legislative branch, as well as hold multiple projects throughout the year advocating for global conservation.

As a Climate Reality Leader, I use my Climate Reality toolkit to create presentations to continue educating myself and others about the climate crisis while staying up-to-date on the latest studies and statistics on worldwide natural disasters and climate observation.

Furthermore, I am constantly educating and raising awareness through social campaigns regarding our fight for climate action and climate justice. I have an “Eco-Ed” series highlighting environmental issues and topics using easy-to-understand language, as well as collaborating with other environmental organizations. Recently, I collaborated with Greenpeace International and Greenpeace Philippines for International Women’s Month, interviewing young women climate activists, highlighting the effects of gender inequality within climate change.

Can you share 3 lifestyle tweaks that the general public can do to be more sustainable or help address the climate change challenge?

Sign Petitions

One of the easiest and quickest ways to take action is signing online petitions.

Upcycle

Upcycling can be a fun, creative outlet. Consider taking old t-shirts and quilting them together into a blanket.

Invest

Invest in carbon offsets, energy-efficient appliances, and green tech.

Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview: The youth-led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.

Video: https://youtu.be/kzx_0oijb5s

To induce a call to action for our next generation of leaders we must engage in modernized and evolved ways.

Our engagement through social media should be at the forefront of awareness campaigns. Younger generations absorb immense amounts of information from the internet and social media platforms.

Promoting factual evidence is also imperative. With an abundance of news sources, it is easy to mistaken the facts. By pushing credible sources, introducing the climate crisis in easy-to-understand ways, and simultaneously introducing real-time events associated with the climate crisis, will show the severity of this crisis along with the anthropogenic causes.

We must also provide opportunities. Our younger generation is hands-on and involved. With ‘Gen Z’ we see protests in the streets and on social media, along with hashtag movements. Give them the opportunity to physically and socially engage in the cause.

Inspiring an emotional connection is also important. By generating a personal climate story, whether it be through connecting with nature, witnessing a natural disaster, or having a loved one fall ill due to the effects of climate change, will help induce an intimate connection sparking a passion to protect and conserve.

Lastly, we must empower them, and instill within them the ability that they can make a difference. They are the planet’s future, we must let them know that.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

Through certification in the LEED system, a business can save on maintenance and operation costs. LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a third-party verification system focusing on green building which includes energy savings, water efficiency, and CO2 emissions reduction. This incentive program also provides tax credits and zoning allowances in return.

However, there are many ways a business can become more profitable by going green. We’ve seen hotels enact green programs such as asking guests to reuse their towels, saving the hotel money and energy; Nestle saved money by manufacturing thinner bottles which reduce their plastic consumption and emissions output, and big tech companies like Amazon and Google made the switch to renewable energy which now costs less than fossil fuels.

At times, businesses in America fail to think long-term. More so, corporate America and big business seek short-term profits when in turn, they could invest in self-sustaining infrastructure which will ultimately increase profit by securing longevity.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Every person along the way helped me become successful.

I have my friends who keep me grounded and in touch with my spirit, I have my Miss Earth USA team which encourages my growth and provides reassurance, and I have collaborative partnerships which help me bring the cause that is Miss Earth to life. If you keep your mind and heart open, every person you meet can turn into a connection, emotionally or professionally.

You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My movement would be to raise awareness and inspire action for climate justice. As citizens of the world, we must petition the United Nations on setting higher standards for each participating country and incentivize other countries to join. Petitioning for renewable energy, increasing the carbon tax, implementing carbon offset purchases, holding countries accountable while creating ambition for the Kyoto Protocol, the International Climate Initiative, the Paris Agreement, and the International Environment Protection Act, are all ways in which we can petition policy change resulting in a physical change within international law.

By focusing on climate justice, we can create change in every aspect of life, touching all ecosystems. Climate justice speaks on many levels. It represents taking action on preserving Mother Earth, stabilizing the future of humanity, and securing equality within gender, race, the economy and socio-economic status, as well as between countries.

It does not take a majority to make a change. We must utilize the “3.5% rule”, showing how only 3.5% of the population can change the world. Change can start with one voice, one story. Once that story travels around the world, that is when the impact begins.

Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?

“The day you begin to make the greatest impact on the world is the day you show up for yourself, as yourself”.

-Jennifer Williamson

When you’re pursuing a goal or a cause you are passionate about, that is when you find true happiness and fulfillment. You are living for you, not to fit the status quo, not for empty success, not for the sake of another, and not because you’re fearful of taking a true risk. To detail my life, when I decided to pursue the Miss Earth title, I had significant doubt. The fashion industry typically frowns upon the pageant industry. There is a stigma amongst beauty pageants and I was completely stepping outside of my comfort zone. As I stumbled upon this quote, I immediately resonated with it. When you discover who you are, when you fully accept yourself, and when you transpire into the person you’re meant to be, life will begin to make sense.

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook: @lindseymariecoffey and twitter: @lindseymcoffey

This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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