We all know Shailene Woodley as the heart-wrenching Jane Chapman from HBO’s big hit Big Little Lies. She also stretches her talent far beyond the bright lights of Hollywood. Co-founding All it Takes, which promotes positive, sustainable leadership, alongside her mother in 2010, Shailene believes empathy is essential particularly when addressing climate issues, something which is reflected in her longstanding work at Conservation International (CI). Embracing her namesake and protecting the planet, ‘knock on’ like Shailene Woodley!
Emmy nominated actress and activist Shailene Woodley prepares to board an approaching RHIB.. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is on an expedition in the Sargasso Sea, a unique region in the North Atlantic Ocean that is home to a diverse array of marine life, including loggerhead and green sea turtles.
The journey, part of the “Protect the Oceans” year long tour, will see Greenpeace and University of Florida researchers team up to study the impact of plastics and microplastics on marine life and the importance that the Sargasso’s drifting Sargassum seaweed habitat has for the development of juvenile sea turtles.
What prompted you to first get involved with this environmental cause/charity/foundation?
From my very first experience with Conservation International, I have consistently been amazed by their dedication to actually getting things done. They aren’t just talk, they walk the walk. I admire how integrated Conservation International is with dozens of nations around the world, and how they act as a bridge between on the ground grassroots organisers and conservationists, and officials in government.
What are its current goals and current project?
There are many current goals Conservation International has in place. Everything from significantly expanding ocean protected areas, to helping restore mangroves, to preventing deforestation. They have active participation in over 30 countries serving as a means to deliver the narrative that NATURE HEALS NATURE. The idea is that if we allow nature the time and space to heal, she will regenerate, and renew many of the precious resources necessary to keep this planet thriving.
What is the worst thing you have witnessed as an environmental activist/ambassador?
The worst thing I’ve witnessed is the way media sometimes handles environmental issues. It can breed fear and helplessness in people which then causes many of us to become stifled or apathetic.
…and the most hopeful or best?
The best is when people offer simple solutions, first steps of sorts, for involvement. A great first step I often recommend to those who don’t have the time to physically participate in environmental efforts, is to donate to organisations like Conservation International who are on the ground doing the work day in and day out. Also, success stories are a fantastic thing to witness. The more success stories we publicise, the more inclined we will be as a community to step forward and ensure they keep happening.
How do you think the conversation around environmental issues has changed in recent years?
People are finally beginning to feel the effects of environmental changes in their personal lives all around the world. People are beginning to see that no one is safe from environmental catastrophes, and it is creating a demand for conversation. But more importantly: the youth are speaking up louder than ever in this area, and with the technology we have today, they have been able to create a worldwide movement that transcends what we have been able to do in the past. The youth are carrying the torches of tomorrow for all of us.
If you were “president of the earth”, what laws or amendments would you enforce to make the planet a better place to live in?
I would make it a law to teach empathy to children to ensure that every child feels safe enough to feel seen, heard, and loved. I can’t help but believe that the root of this entire environmental crisis we’re facing comes from the lack of attention we give to our emotions, and our desire and need to experience love and safety. We really actually cannot discuss the environment without discussing the way we treat one another. It’s all the same. Environmental harm is a mirror to the harm we inflict upon one another, each and every day.
Photograph by Shane Grass, courtesy of Shailene Woodley/ Greenpeace