Well Made

Ep. 124 Protecting people and planet with Leah Thomas

August 4, 2020 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

"Intersectional environmentalist." You may have heard those two words separately, but Leah Thomas was the first person to put them together. "Intersectional" is a powerful framework that, when combined with the environmentalist movement, illuminates issues of inequity in climate change.

As Leah Thomas talks about in this episode, Eric Garner's last words, "I can't breathe" take on an even bigger meaning when considering that poor air quality disproportionately affects the lives of people of color.

Leah Thomas studied environmental science and communications before joining the team at Patagonia. With several years experience learning how to message the urgency of climate change, she started her company, Intersectional Environmentalist to provide people with resources that dismantle systems of oppression in the environmental movement. 

In this episode, Leah talks about how intersectional environmentalism has gone viral and how she's embracing the moment to build communities and resources for progress. 

“We're trying to teach businesses how to confidently be accountable and how to properly apologize in a way that goes beyond PR.”

In this episode, Leah lays the groundwork by defining "intersectional environmentalism" and illuminates the relationship between the climate crisis and COVID-19 (3:24). She talks about how the practice of code switching goes beyond race and into the environmental space (11:25).

She and Stephan discuss the ambiguity of a lot of sustainability vocabulary (22:44). Leah takes us back through her time in school and later at Patagonia (29:48). She shares how she and her team quickly built the Intersectional Environmentalist platform with a wealth of resources and their first merch drop. She shares plans for the future of the company with services like an accountability program (33:58). Finally, she ends with what she's optimistic about for the future (44:20).


Also mentioned on the show:

Header illustration by Alja Horvat. Thumbnail photo via Christy Dawn.


You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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