By Trinity Jones
“‘Lead by example, not your opinion’ If you care about environmental issues, but you’re not changing your habits for the planet, I’m talking to you. When you lead with your opinion, people are defensive and apathetic. When you lead by example, people feel convicted and inspired to change.”
Above is a quote from Marie Beecham’s Instagram account @wastefreemarie. In an age where social media is a way to connect with people from all over the world, Marie Beecham, a sophomore majoring in Business Management and Accounting, is using her platform to educate people on the critical topic of sustainability. In just six months, Beecham has gained over 2,000 followers on her Instagram dedicated to sustainability — and has impacted many more.
With the impact she’s making, it’s hard to believe that only six months ago, Beecham’s account didn’t exist and that she was beginning her journey with sustainability. Her passion for becoming more sustainable started with her learning as much as she could about the topic. In a short amount of time, she consumed as much knowledge as she could about sustainability, including articles, sustainable companies, and documentaries. With her new-found experience, she was inspired to change her lifestyle and found it quite easy and affordable being a college student. She began buying second-hand clothes, use reusable bottles, cutlery, and bags, became more conscious of her plastic use and became vegetarian.
“This phase of learning brought about so much passion that making lifestyle changes wasn’t very difficult at all,” says Beecham. “Everyone’s journey looks different, and mine has been such a great experience.”
Shortly before creating her account, Beecham followed Instagram accounts that encouraged others to become more sustainable in their daily lives.
“Seeing these posts on my feed made me feel empowered and convicted,” says Beecham. “[S]o I decided to make my own account, and hopefully do the same for others.”
One thing that draws people to her account is the way she presents and advocates for sustainable living. She doesn’t shame others because of the way they live, saying in a post, “I don’t want you to feel guilty, I want you to feel convicted. You have an incredible opportunity to be an ally. Get convicted to learn more, convicted to speak up, convicted to make history.” She focuses on making the information and encouragement she spreads accessible to everyone and finds accessibility essential to getting everyone involved in the movement.
“I hope to make sustainability a really inclusive space because the real goal is for everyone to be a part of this movement,” says Beecham. “What I love about sustainability is that in advocating for the planet, I’m really advocating for all of the people on it.”
In just six months, Marie Beecham has not only become inspired to make her lifestyle sustainable but encouraged others to do so as well. Through her account, she wants others to know that everyone is more than capable of more sustainable living. To those that believe becoming sustainable is too hard, she says:
“People who think that living sustainably is too difficult are missing the big picture; it’s not an all or nothing deal. We don’t need anyone doing low waste perfectly, but we need a lot of people doing it imperfectly.”
For those interested in learning more about sustainability and what they can do to advocate for the Earth, Women’s and Gender Studies is offering an Ecofeminism course. Similar to what Marie is doing through her account, the class educates students on the problems of the environment and solution to combat it. The class also explores the connection between society’s treatment of women and the environment. For more information, visit WGS 320 XW.