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Carmen Danae: Environmental Artist and Activist

Carmen Danae is a environmental activist that is the voice for our oceans. She uses her artistic approach to shed light on our planets declining marine life and eco system. Through years of active work in the fight against plastic pollution, Carmen has become witness to the true magnitude of our plastic problem and the undeniable connection it has to our climate crisis. 

We got the chance to speak to Carmen about her work and what she has discovered over the past few years working to support the health our oceans.

You spent 2 years in Dominican Republic fighting plastic pollution which is having a detrimental effect on our oceans and marine life. What did you experience and witness? 

I bore witness to ecocide, the experience was life-altering. I reconnected with my roots, I saw first-hand how intersectional the plastic pollution issue is, its connections to the climate crisis, and how pervasive fossil fuel-based single-use plastics are, not only for our oceans and marine life but for our own health.  

I witnessed the dire consequences of the plastic industry coupled with a complete neglect of our rivers and wetlands and a lack of willingness from those in power to pass legislation to ban single-use plastics. All these things are a micro vision of what is happening on a macro level in most places around the world where single-use plastics are still not banned. 

What was happening to the plastic that you were collecting from the beaches in Dominican Republic? 

The plastics we collected from beaches and rivers were first sorted by type and then (if possible) recycled. However, a huge part of the plastics found are not recyclable such as styrofoam and microplastics, and those used in packaging for candy or chips, a large amount of the recyclable PET or HDPE has been soiled, burned & degraded rendering it unable to be recycled. 

You're a strong voice for Mangroves and the destruction that is being caused to them. What are you experiencing when you visit the Mangrove forests?

I'm in awe of the biodiversity that Mangrove forests nurture. Imagine entering into an intricately designed architectural space, with dappled light shining through the canopy, reflecting on the shallow water, thousands of exposed roots shoot up from the water mirror and into the sky. You can hear a 360-degree symphony of hundreds of different species of birds, frogs, and insects. I went to wetlands of international importance with an ornithologist that has been studying the migratory and endemic birds that inhabit these majestic forests for over 30 years. Over 140 different species of birds have been studied there. And the fact that we're losing wetlands at 1% per year globally pushes me to bring awareness to the threats these magical ecosystems face. 

Where does your motivation come from to wake up every day and fight for our planet? Can it feel like you’re fighting a losing battle?

I see my climate & environmental justice activism as a necessity more than a choice. 

I understand and feel the urgency of the climate crisis, I see the destruction, mass extinction, and chaos that 3-5 degrees of warming would cause at a global scale, we are triggering the carbon cycle into a positive feedback loop that we will no longer be able to reverse if we continue business as usual. 

I believe in a world where we live in symbiosis with nature, as stewards and caretakers, protecting our air, land, and water.  

We already have the technology and wisdom to shift to a renewable energized world, where no more fossil fuels are being extracted and burned for our energy & transportation systems, a world where no more forests are burned for cattle, a world where we treat each other with respect, celebrating our differences, a world where animals are treated with dignity. A world with coral reefs, sea turtles, whales, and tigers. It takes courage to speak up against the plastic/fossil fuel industry. But I am unafraid and will continue to speak up for the voiceless, truth to power.