We’re excited to chat with climate justice and antiracism activist, Mikaela Loach. Mikaela’s work and activism are rooted in the recognition that racial justice, environmental needs, and the dismantling of oppressive forces all intersect. As the co-host of The Yikes Podcast, she has produced 2 seasons of discussions on these important subjects. In our interview with her, she highlights the motivators behind the crucial work she is doing, aids us in redefining what “sustainable living” truly is, and shares accessible lifestyle changes we’ve already begun implementing (daily “boogies” anyone?). Don’t miss this important conversation with the inspiring @mikaelaloach.
Where + when did your interest in environmental issues begin?
For me, it was when I went vegan that I started caring about environmental issues a lot more. Also, it was when watching The True Cost that came to fully appreciate that the climate crisis is a social justice issue. Whilst I was making these lifestyle changes to try and help the planet and people (boycotting fast fashion, going vegan, going zero waste etc) I was also involved with refugee rights work.
At some point I came across Climate Justice. I saw that all the issues I cared about – racial justice, migrant just and tackling other oppressive forces – all intersected with the climate crisis. I learned that the climate crisis is set to be the greatest force of displacement this world has ever seen. I saw that through Climate Justice, all these other issues I cared about could also be tackled. Climate Justice is a portal for collective liberation.
“To me, sustainable living means moving from how can I be sustainable into how can we – as a community – be sustainable.”
How long have you been living a sustainable lifestyle?
I think it’s tricky to answer this question. The idea of “sustainable lifestyle” is one which focuses too much on individual change in combatting the climate crisis. When 100 companies are responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions, focusing on the individual just allows those causing the significant damage (fossil fuel companies) to avoid blame. Moreover, who decides what is a “sustainable lifestyle”? To me, sustainable living means moving from how can I be sustainable into how can we – as a community – be sustainable. If I can have my pretty plastic free life but this lifestyle isn’t accessible to everyone in my community – is that truly sustainable? Or is that just an ego thing?
What are some sustainable switches to make at home for beginners?
I would first look at how you’re using your time. Time is a huge privilege and it is something which can be used to create change. If there are swaps you can make (e.g. always eating leftovers before buying new food, choosing non-plastic packaged options for groceries, cycling to work, changing to a green energy provider for your home, switching to an ethical bank) that don’t take too much time and are within your financial capabilities – do them! But lifestyle change cannot and should not be the end. Also look at your community or the wider global community and see where you could give whatever time you are able to, to join in movements for climate justice and social change. Don’t spend all your time going to 5 different stores to get plastic free groceries when that same time could be spent putting pressure on governments and systems of oppression and creating the change needed to fight the climate crisis and injustice.
Any tips for continued learning about environmental, social, and racial issues?
I co-host a podcast all about this! The Yikes Podcast talks all about climate justice, how to pursue collective liberation and fight oppression and so much more. We’ve just finished season 2 so there are loads of episodes available to have a listen to!
Also, following BIPOC climate justice activists on social media is a great place too. But social media must not be the limit of our education – look at the resources accounts you follow are directing you too, do your own research and make sure you’re getting educated as well as simply informed.
A few accounts I recommend: @intersectionalenvironmentalist, @greengirlleah, @mariebeech, @toritsui_, @israhirsi, @helenagualinga, @ninagualinga, @itsecogal, @treesnpeace, @theyikespodcast
What is your biggest takeaway from the last 6 months?
Community, grassroots action is everything. When we organize together to take action against oppression we can create huge amounts of change. We must never settle but keep pushing forward for better.
What are some of your favorite sustainable + earth friendly self-care practices?
Having a boogie on my own or with my mum! It’s the best thing ever for your soul and costs nothing! Joy is sustainable.
Describe your morning routine.
I don’t really have a morning routine… I wish I was a morning person, but sadly waking up always feels painful. I always wake up by my lumie light alarm clock (usually a bit too late), put on a good song to have a morning boogie to, have a coffee and then start my day!
Someone you admire:
I have never ending admiration for the indigenous communities who face persecution every single day and who are on the frontlines of the climate struggle. We all owe them so much.
Favorite piece of art in your home:
Either my AOC screen print or my Angela Davis screen print (it’s hard to choose!!) both by @rosaillustrations! I ADORE them both and they remind me of how powerful women of colour are in creating change.
Favorite Vitamin A piece?
The white Sienna tank and high waisted Sienna bottoms!! So flattering and comfy! Can’t wait to wear in scuba diving when it’s next possible to go!