We spoke with Ming D. Liu, Co-Founder of Earthling Mag, about her passion for sustainability, regeneration, and social justice, and how we can all strive to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle for a healthier planet.
Where are you from, and what was your major in college?
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and went to Brooklyn College, where I majored in English and minored in criminal justice. At the time, I wanted to be a writer, but knew that wasn’t always financially feasible. I always thought about law school as a backup. Once I graduated, I worked in the book publishing industry for a while. I thought it was what I wanted to do, but now I know it was just a chapter in the book.
How did your passions for sustainability and climate action develop?
While I was working in book publishing, a friend of mine (Nika Hedrick, who is the Founder of Earthling Mag) approached me with the idea of creating a digital magazine focused on sustainability and social good. I was quite interested. I’ve always been a nature lover – in awe with our unwavering oceans and craved to immerse myself in our natural world whenever possible, so bringing awareness to protecting our environment was a no brainer.
I started learning more about sustainability and realized how it intrinsically connects with everything. A lot of what I was reading wasn’t shared on mainstream media, and I was shocked to learn the extent of human beings’ destructive behaviors and its effect on our planet. I learned that we were destroying our home because we have become an age of instant gratification and consumption, and corporations are choosing profit over planet. I asked myself, “What can any earthling do?” and realized that my childhood was rooted in sustainability.
I grew up in a family that raised me to not waste resources. My father always took quick showers (king of five minutes or less showers), and yelled at my brothers and I when we took too long because we were wasting water. My mother worked in a garment factory that didn’t pay workers decent wages, which I now realize is one of the problematic issues the sustainable fashion movement tries to address. My parents grew up in a poor, rural area in China, and they had very little; therefore, they always taught us to save our resources and always be resourceful, and all of these lessons continue to stay with me to this day.
What do you do for work?
It’s been over two years since I’ve started to focus my career on sustainability and climate activism. My primary job is at an environmental non-profit that works to accelerate climate action. Outside of my 9-5, I am the co-founder of Earthling Mag, where I wear multiple hats as most startup founders do.
What sparked your inspiration for Earthling Mag? Can you talk a little about the company and its’ mission?
Earthling Mag is a media company that uses mindfulness as a tool for planetary health. We aim to share diverse stories of sustainability, regeneration, and social justice.
We are taking a positive approach to sustainability and climate activism; what I mean by that is sharing the actions that are taking place and bringing awareness. It’s easy to be pessimistic about what’s happening to glaciers and endangered species, and the lack of action in the current U.S. administration, but I believe that by sharing the good that’s being done, it can show others that we are making strides toward a healthier Earth.
One of our key points is to bring awareness through storytelling—you can’t make someone care about an issue if they don’t know about it. To do this, we are aiming to share diverse and inclusive stories within this movement. The sustainability movement can be seen exclusively for the upper-middle class, but we want to prove that this is not the case. You don’t have to be of a certain class to be part of the movement. At the end of the day, the environment affects all of us.
There are four sections of Earthling Mag—travel, lifestyle, solutions, and the world. We want to discuss ways to travel better, how we can make small changes in our eating and lifestyle habits, positive actions that are being taken within the environmental movement, and what current solutions exist.
There are consequences to everything we do, and it’s important to think about the aftermath and how can we live our lives to create a positive impact. That’s why we promote mindfulness; if we all take a moment to think about our actions before acting, we can make that difference.
How do you view the relationship between climate change and the sustainability movement?
In my view, climate change is what inspires the whole sustainability movement. Climate change has given birth to the movement, but sustainability isn’t just about the environmental side, it is also about socioeconomic factors too. I’m really interested in how sustainability affects social justice and how these are tied together.
Environmental racism is a big topic that isn’t frequently talked about. Climate justice discusses how climate change is an ethical and political issue, and that’s important; for example, the consequences of climate change disproportionately targets certain communities more than others.
There is so much more to sustainability than just the environment, and I look forward to exploring that more on Earthling Mag.
Any advice for how we can live a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle?
I think the first thing is to learn about it, and the best way to learn is to continuously ask questions and read about what’s happening around the world. By learning more, you can ultimately make the best informed decision on what’s best for the planet and its species.
Before learning more about the movement, I always thought that becoming vegan was the best way to become more environmentally conscious, but there’s always flaws to that. What I have learned is that there is no perfect answer. It’s about learning and trying your best to reduce your carbon footprint; learning to weigh the pros and cons of what you’re consuming, what you’re doing, where you’re buying your clothes, etc. is essentially practicing mindfulness and can help you make better decisions, one action at a time.
What does it mean for you to be powerful and confident?
Feeling powerful and confident is always an ever-changing sentiment. Every day I feel super powerful for that fact that I am chasing my passions and my dreams, even if I fear that I won’t make it or be successful. There is power in inspiring others and being inspired by others as well.