Environmental activism is defined as the coming together of various groups, individuals, and organizations with the common agenda of protecting and serving the environment. To understand this generation’s fight for our planet, I talked with Holly Thompson, a current college senior at the Catholic University of America (CUA). As an environmental studies major and pre-law minor, Holly reformed the CUA Environmental Club. Over the past decade, environmental issues have become more and more polarizing. Holly will discuss her passion for the environment, her work with environmental activism, and what more young people can do to help with the fight.
When did your passion for environmental issues first begin? Is it something you have been passionate about from an early age?
Holly: I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors on some level because I live on a lake, and I was a camp counselor going to camp near the Pine Barrens (a forest in New Jersey that is pretty protected). Initially, I wanted to do environmental studies to run a summer camp. I realized I wanted to go into environmental studies to help protect the earth because I think it’s essential and has been a big part of my life.
When did you decide that you wanted to have a career in the environment?
Holly: I knew I wanted to go into environmental studies. CUA is where I saw how the environment could positively affect people, whether it’s a natural disaster or oil spills, and how building towards a more sustainable world is better for people. I saw how protecting the environment could help people live better lives.
What environmental issue are you most passionate about?
Holly: I am passionate about climate migration. We know climate change is an issue, and we know the negative effects through the panels done by IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The IPCC is an organization that gives information about climate change. Not enough people are focusing on how to slow down climate change and help people take back those areas most affected by climate change. For my capstone project, I am studying how agriculture can be used as a resilience technique and can make the land more livable.
What has it been like trying to rebuild CUA’s Environmental Club?
Holly: It is hard at CUA to convey an environmental issue because there are many other issues. The school focuses a lot on social justice. It is important to look at your audience when communicating your message. How can I communicate this message to the study body? It is important to allow everyone to support the environment but within their own beliefs. You can be an environmentalist in any sense. You could focus on fast fashion, reducing plastic use, focus on oceans, or conservation. There are many different ways people can get involved with the environment, and helping people find the one they are most passionate about is the most important.
How are you currently working towards a better environment?
Holly: Right now, I am working on this pamphlet that gives people a guide on assessing environmental issues/threats within their communities to show where to start. I’m taking the summer to do this ranger trip for 8 days where we take this group of girls hiking on the Appalachian Trail for 4 days, and we also take them canoeing for 4 days. I am doing stuff with the Franciscan Monastery and the CUA Garden, but that is paused over the summer. My town has this recycle coach app and makes signs for the app and uses this information to figure out what you can recycle.
What more can young people do to change the current trajectory for environmental protection?
Holly: Definitely start at the local level and be a part of the local committees. People should educate themselves on environmental issues. Be a part of an organization. If you are liberal, the Sunrise Movement, and, if you are conservative, the ACC. Reduce your impact and show how you are doing it on social media.
Thank you for your time today, Holly!
Want to work towards an environmental change but don’t know how?
Check out Holly’s website: https://thompsonh12.wixsite.com/gogreen
On this website, Holly provides one-on-one environmental consulting on how to live a more environmentally-friendly life. If you do not know where to start, she can give you information on that as well.