Earth Advocates: 9 Eco Influencers You Need to Know for a Greener Future

10 mins

From championing efforts to eliminate food waste to shedding light on the environmental impact of fast fashion, these 9 eco influencers should be on your radar

Ever since heartthrob Leonardo Di Caprio established his eponymous foundation to protect the earth in 1998, the academy award winner has been campaigning to bring environmental issues to the fore. But he is no longer alone, celebrity activism has, in fact, become quite a thing over the last few decades. From Ben Affleck, a lifelong environmental activist and the recipient of Environment Media Award in 2013, to Cate Blanchett, a member of the Australian Conservation Foundation who has recently teamed up activist Danny Kennedy to launch the new ‘Climate of Change’ podcast, it seems celebrities are fast becoming eco influencers.

But, from slow fashion to recycling and buying from B Corp certified companies, sustainability is now so much more than a trend. It’s a way of life and it’s gone mainstream. And with eco-conscious Gen Zers – aka the TikTok generation – such as climate activist Greta Thunberg encouraging older generations to act more sustainably, it’s become cool to care.

Maya Talih Khatoun, co-founder of RIOT, a luxury pre-owned fashion company in UAE, said in an interview with Harpers Bazaar Arabia: ‘I think being sustainable is first and foremost an awareness of, and appreciation for, our natural environment. It’s not about completely shifting your life but more like making little switches, which when aggregated, will make a bigger change.’

Ali Clifford a London-based social media consultant and trainer in the sustainability sector, says she has also seen a significant surge in ‘gentle activism’ in recent years.

‘The public’s awareness of sustainability issues has become more focussed on the ‘planet’ than ‘people,’ such as the revelation that skincare brands were using microplastics in skincare,’ she says.

This increased awareness has been reflected and also driven by social media. ‘More and more brands – from clothing labels Nobody’s Child to Everlane – have joined the push to use sustainable and ethically-sourced materials’ she said. ‘And, at the same time, social media has become the ‘free’ and engaging marketing tool to use, leading to a gentle rise in user-generated content (UGC) and “influencer marketing.’”

We take a look at the rise of the global sustainable influencer to see how they are leading the way in changing the conversation.

Climate Campaigners

Leah Thomas

@greengirllleah instagram

Leah Thomas (aka @greengirlleah) has helped put the climate crisis and culture on the map by making it mainstream.’ Leah is an American environmental activist who gained notoriety after an Instagram post of hers that used the phrase “intersectional environmentalism” and called for environmental activists to support Black Lives Matter. She runs Intersectional Environmentalist, a website targeted towards people interested in the relationship between the environment and social justice. She is the author of The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet.

She has appeared on the cover of The New York Times and in Vogue and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop. The American influencer, whose book The Intersectional Environmentalist, published last March, explores systems of oppression and different cultural outlooks on the climate. Leah has 244k followers on Instagram.

Tolmeia Gregory

Tolmeia Gregory Facebook

Last year Tolmeia Gregory, a 23 year old climate justice activist from the Cotswolds with 19.2k followers, disrupted a corporate event to call out the CEO of Shell Brands (Dean Aragón) and ask him why Shell continues to conceal the impact it has on female farmers in Nigeria who are suffering from oil spills. The oil spills damage farm land so farmers can no longer make a living out of their crops and the water has also been severely polluted so women and children can no longer drink or swim in the water.

Tolmeia has also created a range of eco-giphy stickers for use on social media which have been viewed 7.5 billion times.  She also posts ads on how to help ban fossil fuel and hosts a podcast called Idealistically.

She says: ‘I’ll always be proud of my GIF sticker collection and the success they’ve had. Not only am I just really proud of the work that’s gone into them but I’m also proud of the fact they launched my freelance career and led me to being able to do what I love.’


Madeleine Olivia

Vegan influencer and author Madeleine Olivia has over 557k subscribers to her recipes on YouTube. She is a British lifestyle blogger who creates healthy, budget conscious vegan food, from orange coffee energy bars to tofu satay cookbook.

Her first book, Minimal, focused on how to live as sustainably as possible. Olivia said: ‘There are so many things each of us can do to make a big difference. It’s not about being perfect, but doing our best.’

She also vlogs about renovating her home and English country garden, minimalism, slow living and sustainability. Her cookbook, Make It Vegan, came out in December 2023.

‘Just because something is cheap and affordable doesn’t mean you should buy it,’ she says.

Slow Fashion Stars

Amanda Rushforth

Amanda Rushforth is a Brit expat who has lived in Dubai for over 10 years with a 19.2k following on Instagram. A TEDx speaker, sustainable fashion advocate who describes herself as a ‘former shopaholic’ and board director for Azraq, a UAE grassroots marine conservation organisation. Azraq is an ocean conservation involved in beach and ocean clean-ups and mangrove tree planting days as a part of its fight for cleaner oceans. ‘I wanted to be part of an organisation with credible commitments that bring about real change,’ Rushforth says.

Amanda, who has 19.3k followers on Instagram, is also an advocate for plastic-free oceans, wardrobes and food chains. She has been plastic water bottle free for 5+ years and tries to maintain a plastic-free household as much as possible. She also has a degree in Fashion Promotion, Fashion and Textile Design.

‘I believe that with the rise in available information on fast fashion and plastic clothing, and thanks to social media, we’re starting to see more sustainably minded content – that said, there is still a lot of greenwashing going on and it would be great to see more brands take the lead with regards to their manufacturing practices firstly. Sustainability is a big buzzword across all industries, so it’s natural to see some thought leaders finally getting some attention’, Rushforth says.

Jo Ouest

Jo Ouest, aka @slowfashionjo, who describes herself as a recovering fast fashion addict, now creates or upcycles her clothes or buys them second-hand. Jo says there’s been a shift in influencers turning to more sustainable options and away from High Street ‘hauls.’

‘I think shows like the BBC’s Sewing Bee are helping people realise that maybe they could mend something they already own rather than buy new; and there are lots of platforms which make selling and buying second-hand much easier, e.g. Vinted and Thrift+,’ she notes. ‘I think a focus on using materials that already exist is the future and that’s where I see more interest growing on social media, with upcycles of e.g. curtains, tablecloths, and even duvet covers!’

Jo also shares tips with her 2.3k followers on how to upcycle fabrics you no longer use, including curtains and duvets and rocks a jump suit.  

Venetia La Manna

Venetia is a fair fashion campaigner and host of The Fast Furniture Fix on BBC R4. She also contributed to the Inside Shein documentary in Channel 4 and hosts the All The Small Things podcast where she interviews guests about ethical issues from having children in a climate crisis to how to forage for your own food.

A broadcaster, activist and self-confessed ‘recovering hypocrite’, she is one of the most influential voices in slow fashion today. Whether calling out greenwashing, coining the #OOOTD hashtag (that’s Old Outfit Of The Day) or campaigning for garment worker rights, La Manna’s approach to sustainable dressing goes beyond her wardrobe.

‘Fashion brands are so willing to talk about organic cotton and to talk about their latest recycled range. There are two things that fashion brands refuse to commit to — the first is paying their garment makers a fair living wage, and the second is a drastic reduction in overall output. But these are the two things that would actually, truly change the industry,’ she says.

Waste Warriors

Laura Young

Scottish blogger Laura, aka @lesswastelaura started the #BanDisposableVapes campaign and won Scottish Influencer Award of the Year in 2022 for her campaign. She is an award winning climate activist and environmental scientist, and currently studying at the University of Dundee for a PhD in climate resilience work. She has been growing the Less Waste Warriors community for over three years developing online and offline resources available to help people learn more about environmental living.

​‘Let’s also not end up in a situation where people around the world are sent down into the same conditions to mine for materials involved in the renewable energy world. There is no climate justice without social justice!’ she says. 

Lara Hussein and Ceylan Üren

For female founders of The Waste Lab Lara Hussein and Ceylan Üren, everything from a papaya seed to dragon fruit peel, is of value. They shared an apartment in Dubai and set up the Waste Lab company in the early days of lockdown to help turn food scraps into farmable soil and compost. ‘Nature has the perfect food recycling system. So, we thought ‘why not mimic nature?’ And that’s how The Waste Lab was established,’ says Hussein.

Their vision is in line with the UAE’s National Food Loss and Waste Initiative, Ne’ma, to cut down food waste by 50 per cent by 2030 and achieve a Net Zero on carbon emissions by 2050. They also host workshops on composting, soil health and fighting climate change. The Waste Lab has 6.4k followers on Instagram.

Rob Greenfield

© Sarah Tew Photography

American influencer Rob defines himself as a minimalist who has moved away from consumerism by simplifying his life.  He claims to have stopped using toilet paper ten years ago and now just uses leaves. The only modern object he owns is a laptop. His Day in the Life YouTube and TikTok videos focus on getting to know plants, foraging and living as sustainably as possible. He has cycled across the U.S. three times on a bamboo bicycle to help spread the word about living a simple and sustainable life. 

His first bike ride resulted in a book documenting his coast to coast adventure, Dude Making a Difference. He is also the creator of The Food Waste Fiasco, a campaign that strives to end food waste and hunger in the U.S by showing people how they can live more self-sufficiently, from planting their own vegetables to living off grid. Robinhas 430k followers on YouTube.

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