It’s easy to get really down about the future of this planet when you read the news: polluted water, oceans and air. Genetically modified food. Animal testing. Lost biodiversity. Climate change. But then I see teens and kids already working passionately to make our planet a better place—and I see a ray of hope. Check out these amazing youth advocates, who have already dedicated a good portion of their young lives to educating others and enacting change:
1. As a child, Birke Baehr started reading food labels and researching the ingredients of everything his family was eating. “I discovered the dark side of the industrialized food system,” he said in his popular TEDx Talk at age 11 (he’s now 15), which covered the topics of factory farms, GMOs, pesticides and herbicides. He soon turned his passions for natural food into a website (www.birkeonthefarm.com), a children’s book, speaking appearances and a solid foundation for a future in organic farming. His tips for other kids (and adults): “Think local. Choose organic. Know your farmer. Know your food.”
Why is it that all the beautiful handbags are made of leather? And often, if it’s not made of leather, it looks cheap or unfashionable. No longer: Meet chic new fashion label Freedom of Animals, which produces 100 percent green and cruelty-free luxury handbags. Their elegant white-and-black PETA X Freedom of Animals Ina Tote, in particular, donates 20 percent of proceeds of each sale to PETA. Elle.com recently interviewed the founders for their thoughts on their inspiration, why sustainable fashion still lags behind, and their hopes for fashion’s future.
Luckily, cruelty-free design, while still not ubiquitous, is gaining its cool factor and becoming easier to find than ever before. Here, Care2 offers a list of 12 animal-friendly clothing companies and retailers that have pledged not to sell fur. Those down feathers in your winter jacket? Another story altogether: Animals usually suffer as the down is harvested for fashion. But leader Patagonia has promised its down is “100 percent traceable,” a weighty goal North Face won’t achieve for two more years. Those looking for animal-friendly fashions can check out PETA’s Shopping Guide to Compassionate Clothing.