Better stewardship of the oceans is at the heart of the blue economy and is the core message of the next generation of environmental campaigners for ocean conservation. Here are the activists a new generation is listening to:
Age: 28 | Instagram: 4.4m | Twitter: 1.1m
Why: In 2019 the actress joined Greenpeace to study microplastic levels in the Sargasso Sea. The Greenpeace Oceans Ambassador used the damning results to urge the UN, businesses and individuals to commit to protecting 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030.
What she says: “The threat of plastics in our seas not only affects marine life, it affects human lives as well. This is a crisis, and we must work on all fronts to combat the silent emergency we’re in.”
Up next: A social media campaign for ongoing initiatives with Ocean Impact in South Africa and Parley for the Oceans in the US.
Age: 16 | Instagram: 2.6m | Twitter: 181.5K
Why: The star of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy is a vocal supporter of environmental groups including the Oceanic Preservation Society and, at 14, became the youngest ever UN Goodwill Ambassador.
What he says: “More than half of Earth’s oxygen is produced by phytoplankton found in healthy oceans and these and other marine species are dying off due to pollution and overfishing.”
Up next: For the UN’s #ActNow campaign, Gallagher wants fans to adapt their lifestyle to aid conservation efforts, then share those changes on social media.
Age: 21 | Instagram: 14.6m | Twitter: 8m
Why: The 21-year-old singer founded JUST Water in 2012 after being deeply affected by plastic pollution along the LA coast. JUST Water’s 100 per cent recyclable water cartons are made using paper from responsibly harvested trees and sugarcane.
What he says: “Sustainability to me is making the right decisions so we can have a better world for tomorrow; so people don’t have to worry about their air quality, water quality or the quality of their energy.”
Up next: Smith plans to move into other consumer goods and eliminate plastic “one product at a time”.
Age: 44 | Instagram: 670K | Twitter: 351.3K
Why: The singer and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador began plastic-free tours in 2017. In the same year, he worked on the documentary The Smog of the Sea, about the dangers of microplastics to the oceans. What he says: “We can’t continue to simply clean-up our coastlines… we need to reduce plastic waste at the source.”
Up next: He’s campaigning in Hawaii to eliminate plastic, and for more musicians to join the BYOBottle plastic-free touring initiative.
The ones to watch:
Age: 19 | Instagram: 44.3K | Twitter: (as @BBPB_bali) 2,141
Why: Wijsen was just 12 years old when she founded Balinese beach clean-up initiative, Bye Bye Plastic Bags, with her sister. After years of petitioning the government, Bali banned single-use plastic in 2019.
What she says: “It was very intuitive to take action when I started to see the growth of plastic pollution – it was everywhere and I knew someone had to do something about it.”
Up next: Wijsen founded Youthtopia in 2020 to help educate and empower young activists. There are now more than 50 Bye Bye Plastic Bag teams in 29 countries continuing her work.
Age: 15 | Instagram: 115K | Twitter: 2,979
Why: Peltier has been campaigning for universal access to clean water since discovering that waterways in many indigenous Canadian communities are polluted when she was just eight years old. As chief water commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation, she has implored the UN to “warrior up” for water, confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his pipeline policies, and been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize.
What she says: “Water is the lifeblood of Mother Earth. Our water should not be for sale. We all have a right to this water as we need it.”
Up next: Peltier is featuring in the Red Chair Sessions, a photography project that highlights the importance of reclaiming indigenous spaces and languages.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of LUX Magazine. This issue features the first in a series of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management/LUX supplements about our ocean and its importance to both the environmental and economic wellbeing of the planet.