Written by Ronen Rubinstein
“What is an environmentalist? I think we all just have a natural birthright to be so,” actor River Phoenix said in 1990. Have we listened to this advice in the past 30 years? I would sadly have to say no. The climate crisis is here and has been here for a while. I personally felt the effects in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy demolished my home and my neighborhood. At the time, I was only 18 years old, living in Staten Island, New York, enjoying my teen years, hanging out with friends, and playing basketball. Never would I have thought that one day, a hurricane would make its way to every major coastline on the East Coast, leaving behind destroyed homes and towns. Between losing my house, all of our belongings, and nearly my parents, I was instantly jolted into the harsh reality of the effects that climate change is having and will have on our earth. Our planet is very sick, and we are only making it sicker.
You hear it all the time: our planet is warming, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. Well, it’s very, very true. If we don’t come to terms with these facts and take collective action, in simple terms, we’re fucked. Experiencing the trauma of losing almost everything we had led me to what I believe is my ultimate calling: to do everything in my power to make the world a little bit healthier, and eventually not sick at all. With my platform, I aim to show my audience the horrific effects that climate change is having and will have on the planet we live on and also prove to them that they, too, can do their part as a human being and care for the planet, our one true home.
Watching Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2016 National Geographic documentary Before the Flood pushed me even further towards where I am today. I figured, if Leo, someone who has an accomplished career in the entertainment industry, can take the time to use his platform to address climate change, then why can’t I? Both in my career and outside of my job, I aim to fill my schedule with as many opportunities as possible to help Mother Nature recover. Whether it’s creating content explaining the importance of setting up ocean sanctuaries, physically showing up to clean up the beaches, using recycled products, or driving zero-emission cars, I want to make sure that I am doing everything in my power to help.
Most recently, I became an ambassador for The Ocean Cleanup. Founded by 26-year-old scientist Boyan Slat, the company is one of the leading initiatives in ridding the world’s oceans of plastic pollution. I first heard about the company in 2018 when they were launching their first ocean cleanup in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is literally an island of plastic and garbage two times the size of Texas floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 🤯 They just launched their first product—a pair of sunglasses made out of recycled plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—and all proceeds go back into the company’s cleaning efforts.
Another company I am excited to be an ambassador for is Project Zero. Their mission is to protect 30% of the oceans by 2030. It blows my mind that our planet is nearly 70% ocean yet only 7.5% of it is protected by government or local officials. Project Zero’s goal is to change that and to change it fast. Our first initiatives are creating sanctuaries off the island of Minorca, Spain, and Sri Lanka, India.
We have SO much work ahead of us and this year has truly proved that in so many different ways. We have one of the most important and crucial elections in modern history coming up tomorrow. We need a president that believes in science and sees the climate crisis as one of the greatest threats to mankind, and we need to get climate solutions faster and more efficiently. In the meantime, I will continue to do everything in my power to help our planet out, and I encourage you to do the same. And remember, however small our step forward is, it is always one step closer to living on a beautiful, healthy, and clean planet.
Actor Ronen Rubinstein can be seen as “T.K. Strand” in ‘9-1-1: Lone Star,’ as “Jake Graham” in ‘Smiley Face Killers,’ and as “Alexei Koslov” in the horror film ‘No Escape.’
STORY RONEN RUBINSTEIN
PHOTOS JASPER RISCHEN