How has your environmentalism informed your career?
I started working on environmental projects while I was living in Shanghai. The treatment of the environment and atmosphere was so horrible there, especially in the early 2010s. But in the midst of a huge economic boom, the Chinese weren’t inclined or interested to change their practices.
I began researching to understand and explore different ways of making a change while I was living there. A central question that has informed my environmental approach is: going up against convenience and cost – two of the greatest barriers to sustainable living today – how do we engage people such that they are driven to change their habits and develop greater solutions?
Shortly after living in China, a dear friend of mine, Rob Stewart, who was a filmmaker and environmentalist, passed away in a diving accident. He was someone who did everything in his power to save the planet and, after he passed away, I knew more than ever that my calling was to do the same. So in his honor, I initiated a project to paint seven murals around the world, highlighting his work for the sharks and the oceans. As I learned more about the oceans during that project, I came to realize the massive problem with plastic we are faced with. This led me to start hosting trash pick-ups in Bushwick, where I live, to increase awareness in my community.
At one of these trash pick-ups, a DJ friend and another friend who is an environmental strategist and expert on trash joined. The three of us ended up collaborating that day to create an experience that was not only action-oriented by picking up trash, but also fun, positive, and thought provoking. That was how LitterRally was born!
LitterRally is a trash pickup dance party experience that aims to inspire cultural mindset shifts through education, community building, and fun. We recently became registered as a non-profit and have plans to expand the organization globally.