Getting stuff done with Mikaela Loach
We’ve been taking some time to learn from people who are out there getting stuff done. Meet Mikaela Loach, an intersectional climate justice activist, podcast host, and medical student.
How do you incorporate sustainability into your life?Like all of the issues I care about, I weave sustainability into everything I do. For a long time sustainability was present in my life only in the way of making lifestyle changes, like being vegan, boycotting fast fashion, and reducing my plastic waste. In the last few years I’ve realised how much only focusing on your own lifestyle isn’t the most effective way to be “sustainable.” I’ve started to think more about “sustainability for who?” If I - someone with time and financial privilege - can make these changes, but many others with less privilege can’t, then is that sustainable? I still have all of these lifestyle changes as key parts of my life, but I now combine them with working in my community to make these changes more accessible for all people.
What are the challenges and benefits to activism on social media?Social media is such a wonderful tool for activism. In many ways, this has democratised activism. If you have a smartphone and internet access, you have the ability to organise with people all over the world, hold those with power accountable and galvanise mass movements. We’ve seen it with Black Lives Matter recently - a movement which spread so quickly across the world, involving 18 countries and 50 states simultaneously even during a global pandemic. It’s powerful.
My greatest challenge with social media activism has definitely been shielding my heart a bit from the trolls and awful messages that I can receive after posting something. As a Black woman, it can definitely be scary to talk about racism online as I know that every time I do I will receive hate in my inbox. In this way, social media activism requires vulnerability and bravery - in sharing these things in the first place - and resilience to deal with the fallout. Moreover, finding a balance between trying to do the most work I can and also realising I am one person and can’t talk about every issue or be available 24/7 for everyone online is something that I find very challenging.
What can you share on the importance of the intersection between climate activism and anti-racism activism?The foundation of the climate crisis is white supremacy and therefore our actions to combat the crisis must be anti-racist. Anti-racism is not only a link or an optional extra: it is the solution. Fossil fuels and extractive industries are the main driver of climate and ecological breakdown and these industries are modelled upon colonialism. Companies based in the Global North go to indigenous land or areas in the Global South and destroy the nature that exists there to extract fossil fuels for use largely in the Global North. The wealth that is generated from this practice is held within the Global North and the communities that live in the extraction areas experience violence and compromised human rights (see: Shell in the Niger Delta & the Ogoni people). In addressing this issue, we cannot ignore the racism that is present. Oppression and exploitation are not only the foundations of the climate crisis, but the crisis itself exacerbates existing inequalities. Communities of colour are hit first and hardest by the climate crisis worldwide and therefore the liberation of these communities from oppression is paramount.
What’s the best thing you found shopping vintage?My beautiful pink glossy evening dress! I found it in a vintage store in Amsterdam and it fit like a literal glove and only got it for 40 euros. I’ve worn it to weddings, balls and my 21st birthday dinner party. I always get heaps of compliments when wearing it and it’s extra fab to be able to say I bought it second-hand!