Sustainability is an important topic, but it’s often overlooked. I enjoyed Joanna’s unique perspective on how to engage people on an important topic using a superhero.
Joanna Kanow is a writer, activist, environmentalist, mother, and tree planter. With a degree in Conservation Resource Studies from UC Berkeley, Kanow has been working to protect the environment her whole life.
How do you practice sustainability in your daily life?
Today, I planted 100 trees and have a 2000 tree demonstration forest.
This is one way I take action towards our climate change. Additionally, any profits from my book Eco Queen go towards the nonprofit branch called seeds of trees. Ultimately, this helps us purchase more trees we plant in Telluride, Colorado, and our demonstration forest. We’ve done projects in Nepal, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Peru.
What’s the process for planting trees?
Sometimes I get help from volunteers, and in other countries, we pay a day’s wage for people to help us get trees in the ground. Currently, I’m planting saplings, which are about one to two feet tall.
Anyone can plant trees. Basically, you’d need to purchase some trees and plant them on land that has water. Typically, you have to baby them for about two years by watering them once a week for about two. This is about the time they start growing.
Do you feel companies need to invest more into entertainment content to educate more people about the problems of the planet?
Yes. I hope that Eco Queen will also become a movie. I have always been interested in connecting the younger generation to the earth. I wanted to give them that big nature experience where they can really breathe, smell, feel, walk, and listen to their surroundings.
I felt that if you take anyone out into a big nature experience, they will want to be that kind of steward to the land that we need. Since the younger generations are the ones to get us out of this problem, they need to care enough to turn the climate crisis around.
That is why I direct things at kids to get them really passionate about the topic so they can get involved. One way to accomplish this is by using a superhero as a character in my book.
This is a teenage female biracial superhero chasing down the climate crisis that is playing out, be it in Puerto Rico, or in the Congo, or South Africa, where they almost ran out of water for the whole of Cape Town.
As I was writing it, I kept on thinking about the worst-case environmental scenarios–such as hurricanes, floods, and rising tides– that will be solved by Eco Queen, the female superhero.
What is the greatest innovation out there that can help solve climate issues?
The greatest innovation out there is a tree that lives here forever. Since deforestation, wildfires, drought, and other environmental activities negatively affect our forests, we need a concerted effort to help replant trees, whether through planting trees ourselves or supporting a tree-planting organization.
Planting trees is a special experience. If you ask any adults who have planted a tree before, they will remember every aspect of that. So I’m just hoping that every child in the world can participate in tree planting at some point in their life, too, because it makes a difference.
Since you’ve worked with non-profits to plant trees–what’s the best way we can contribute to this cause?
There are a lot of great organizations out there. I was originally inspired when I was growing up and had that tree planting experience with the organization called the Tree People out of Los Angeles. When we went up the hills and helped plant trees, it inspired me to start our series of trees.
It’s only about $5 to plant one tree. We’ve planted memorial trees for people whose loved ones passed, and then they go take care of that tree and water it. We’ve also given our trees for graduation for the local schools.
There are different ways to get involved, and we’re trying to do it here in our world where we are facing several issues like a huge drought, Aspen decline, and beetle–killing of trees.
Since our forest health is getting a little jeopardized right now, replacing trees is one way we can make a small difference.
I hope you enjoyed my talk with Joanna and that you took away some value. If you want to listen to the entire interview, click play below or head over to your favorite platform (Apple, Spotify, or Google.)
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