Elle: “Be kind. Be kind to animals, to people and to the planet. ”
Issue XIII Emerging Empowerer
Written Interview by Shwetha Rajesh
Edited by Swarali Navale
10th May, 2022
Ella Grace is a 12 year old Canadian born conservationist and environmental activist. From a young age she felt the calling to the ocean and nature, and answered whole heartedly. She has been a keynote speaker at different environmental events, been in several ocean and environmental documentaries, and is the co-founder of the Non-profit “The Cleanup Kids”. When Ella isn’t scuba diving, or in the water, she can be found leading waterway cleanups, or cuddling with her cat.
At just 11 years old, you are taking so many steps towards protecting our planet, from where do you draw your inspiration for creating change?
Ella: Wildlife inspires me. Seeing the beauty of something in its natural habitat is what keeps me wanting to create awareness and change that will hopefully help other people to fall in love with the ocean and nature, and in turn want to help protect it as well.
While the majority of the Environmental Conservationists tend to focus on the earth and trees, you choose to base your activism on the ocean. How did you know that working towards saving the ocean was what you wanted to do?
Ella: That’s a great question. I have always been completely mesmerized by the ocean. From the time I can remember, I used to watch nature shows and be completely fascinated by the power of the ocean, as well as the incredible creatures that live in it. For me, it just came naturally there really wasn’t any decision to be made, it was just what called to my heart.
Watch our interview with Ella Grace, Emerging Empowerer of Issue XIII
Where did your love for sharks come from? Have you always liked them growing up?
Ella: My love for sharks came from a really young age. Like I said about watching nature shows, well my absolute favorites were the ones about sharks. I remember the first time I watched a video of Ocean Ramsey swimming with a Great White Shark. I must have been about 4, but I so clearly remember thinking that I wanted to do that. I wanted to be in the water, understanding and protecting them. So yes! I have always loved sharks. They are just such incredible animals. They have adapted to all the changes on earth over hundreds of millions of years, and the fact that they are on the trajectory to be wiped out by humans just breaks my heart.
Could you tell us a bit more about your work with 'The Cleanup Kids'?
Ella: So my work with 'The Cleanup Kids' is my passion project that I started with my best friend. We were both already working towards big conservation goals, but when we met at an environmental camp back in 2019, we decided that if we worked together we could accomplish twice as much. So we formed 'The Cleanup Kids', which is a 501.c non-profit that educates kids about the crisis our planet is facing. We don’t just talk though, we really encourage people to get out there and get involved. Youth from all over the world can sign up to join us for The Cleanup Kids crew, and by doing this we help them get involved in conservation activities in their own communities.
We noticed that you live a Zero Waste lifestyle! How did you transition to this? Was it a difficult change to make?
Ella: I try REALLY hard to lead a zero-waste lifestyle, and I admit I am not perfect and sometimes there is no alternative. For example, I recently had to take medication and it came in a plastic container. There was nothing I could do about it. It bothered me, and I have that container sitting on my shelf until I can figure out what to do with it, but I think the whole point of a zero waste lifestyle is that it is okay not to do it perfectly!! If everyone did it, not even perfectly, the planet would be in a far better state. I don’t think it was a hard change to make, I think it is just about planning. You just need to plan to have what you need with you and in a reusable container. Once you do it enough, it becomes a habit. I have a water bottle that comes literally everywhere with me. I NEVER go out without it. I have been doing it long enough that now it is something I grab without even thinking about it. If you start with one thing at a time, then as each thing becomes second nature, just add another thing!
What made you turn to veganism? Has your household always been vegan, or was it an action you decided to take?
Ella: My family has always been meat free, but when I was about 3, my parents decided to stop using dairy products as well. As I have grown older this is something I am happy we do. If my parents hadn’t already decided to eat this way, I definitely would have made the switch. We do it for the planet, for the animals and for our own health.
RAPID FIRE ROUND WITH ELLA
My favorite species of Shark is
My favorite vegan meal is
One tip that helps me live a zero-waste lifestyle
The person who inspires me most is
One item I cannot live without
My favorite TV show is
Things that are hard, are usually worth it! Make it a habit!
Dr.Sylvia Earle, she is such an incredible human and advocate for the planet
My scuba mask!
Can you tell us why there has been a need for conserving sharks? How has this changed in the past few years?
Ella: The need to conserve sharks is because they are the apex predators in the ocean. They have a really important job of regulating what is going on in the food chain below them. If we take away sharks then we will see other species grow unregulated in quantity, which then will affect everything. It changes the balance in the ocean. Fishes that normally would be eaten by sharks would have bigger numbers, which would affect the coral reefs. Ultimately if the coral reefs die, life on earth is doomed. So someone may think “whatever, it is just sharks, but that isn’t the case. Each relies on the other. If we remove one, the entire system comes crashing down. The need to protect sharks has grown even more in the last few years because their populations have been steadily decreasing in size. They are killed for their fin, for their liver oil, for their skin, for their meat. It’s a war on sharks, and right now it feels like the sharks are losing. And if the sharks lose, we lose too.
What does “climate striking” mean? How do you go about this?
Ella: So “climate striking” is where one day a week, or month, or whatever it happens to be for the individual, you stop doing what you were planning to do and you stage a peaceful demonstration. It is to bring awareness to the trouble our planet is in. So when I go for a climate strike, I don’t go to school that day, instead I go to a place that is public and I have a sign that says something about what I am doing and why. Anyone can do it, and the more people that do this, the more attention it gets. The idea is that kids in our generation don’t get to vote. We don’t get to say about the people who make the big decisions, so this is our way of using our voice to show that the earth is in trouble, and maybe it doesn’t affect the people making the decisions, but it WILL affect my generation and the ones to come after me.
And lastly, if there was one set of words you lived your life by, what would that be?
Ella: Be kind. Be kind to animals, to people and to the planet.