‘I still meet people who don’t know about climate change. But eventually the tide is going to keep moving.’
“As a kid I always did well in science, and I asked my grandma for books about animals. When I was 10, she gave me a National Geographic book, “Birds,” and I remember looking at pictures of all these beautiful birds and being in complete awe of nature. And then came this defining moment.
“I came to the section that still makes me want to cry of a bird covered in oil from the Exxon Valdez spill. I decided then that it’s unacceptable, and how can humans let this happen?
“I was on the path to stop it. In college, I studied environmental studies and got a master’s in environmental law. I wanted to figure out ways that we can reduce these impacts on nature.
“I had a radio show on WUSB Stony Brook for seven years to highlight environmental organizations, and now we have an international podcast. Five years ago, I founded the nonprofit Green Inside and Out to help people understand how the daily choices we make impact the broader environment and our own health.
The planet is going to do what it’s going to do, and it doesn’t care whether we believe in it or not.
“We publish fact sheets usually in response to questions I get, like, ‘What kind of dry cleaner should I use? How do I reduce plastics? What kind of clothing should I wear?’
“My goal is to highlight solutions and how others are trying to address these problems. My day job is working on state clean-energy policy. My nonprofit I do on the side, giving hundreds of talks all over Long Island.
“We worked on getting legislation in Suffolk County to have signage put on the wall that tells you what sort of chemical is being used at the dry cleaner.
“It’s a customer’s right to know when something is in a product or a service that they’re using if it’s going to be harmful to their health. That’s one successful change we were able to help bring about. Our individual actions make a difference.
“Collectively, we can help shape policy. We can influence our elected officials, and we can also influence businesses by what we purchase.
“I still meet people who don’t know about climate change. But eventually the tide is going to keep moving. The planet is going to do what it’s going to do, and it doesn’t care whether we believe in it or not. That’s what’s going to dictate the response. Hopefully, it’s a sound and reasonable response.”
Interviewed by Liza Burby