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Indiana Climate Activists: Ethan Bledsoe and Lydia Emry


Ethan Bledsoe, 17

West Lafayette, Indiana

Instagram: @ethan.bledsoe

How did you get involved in climate activism?

I did a science competition in eighth grade and it was with Science Olympiad, the topic was climate change for weather and science that year. I got really interested and researched a lot because I wanted to do well in Science Olympiad. I learned about the fundamental topics and I became really engaged in climate change. I also threw West Lafayette climate strikes with other people and that’s how I got into everything else was through the West Lafayette climate strikes. More of the science aspect, I also did an internship at Purdue at a climate science lab my freshmen year which was really cool. Just to see the science behind it was the point at which I wanted to dedicate a significant portion of my life to helping stop climate change. That’s how I decided I probably want to study climate science in college.


Who do you follow on social media for activism?

I follow AOC (@aoc) of course, as a staple, not just for climate change, but I also find it really interesting. I also follow some climate change meme accounts because even though those are kind of sad, it’s still fun to feel the same pain. In addition, I also follow earth uprising, Fridays For Future (@fridaysforfuture), and I just like to stay up to date with what’s going on with different activist groups. I also follow Yellowwood Youth (@yellowwoodyouth) and Turning Green (@turninggreenorg). I feel like those are really interesting because I’m a part of the turning green organization and following along with what is going on there because they do a lot of work in California, but it’s still cool to see.


What is one individual action you take in your daily life?

I do meetings for climate change every single day, I have a meeting for some organization that has to do with the environment every day. I would say I am “helping” climate change by having these zoom meetings and talking to other people while making connections.


What is one BIG impactful action you take against systemic issues? What organizations are you a part of?

Helping start West Lafayette climate strikes whenever we were in ninth grade, we literally no clue what we were doing, but it’s so cool that we have grown it into this certified organization. It also was the start of how the campaign started which I would say I am really proud of, we were brainstorming it and I’m really proud of how the campaign has turned out, everyone’s that a part of it. I am also proud of everything we have been able to do with West Lafayette climate strikes and how we’re doing all these activities within the community and statewide. I think it’s cool that we’re trying to address climate resiliency, specifically on a community level and that’s what we’re doing while we’re engaging with kids as our upcoming project. Also, that we’re actually having legislation passed, like that I wrote a city-level climate emergency and it will potentially be passed is just crazy to me.


What are your strengths as an activist?

The best thing I contribute is that I’m pretty good at leading meetings, but also being prepared for anything such as talking with someone. I can normally formulate an in-depth response just off on a whim and I think I’m good at talking to people in general because I can keep the conversation going. I would say because of that I am pretty good at leading meetings because I can keep track of everything that is going on in my head and organizing in general.


In a perfect ecotopia, what would you like to see in Indiana?

First, as a major one, it would be really cool if there was affordable renewable energy for everyone because it’d be nice if everyone could afford it so it’s easy to make these eco-conscious decisions. Also, I would like to see more forest space because I think, I know, Indiana used to be heavily forested, and then a lot of it was cut down so now we have a lot of plains. It would be really cool to rehabilitate some of those areas back into these forests, and if we have a lot of tree coverage. It’d be cool to see if we could go from this flat boring place into something that’s more interesting and has a lot more woods, forests, animals, etc.


Any tips for people who don’t have time to dive into climate activism but want to support the movement?

I think to become an activist you have to be passionate about what you’re organizing around, that would be performative activism if you really don’t care that much about the issue and you probably would not do that much for it. I would say to find something you are very passionate about, something that makes your blood boil, because you have to have the drive, otherwise you would just quit. If I was doing the work I am doing around climate change on something that I did not care about whatsoever, I would never be able to stick with it. I would say think about your ethics and who you are as a person, organize around what you care about.


Any media recommendations (documentaries, movies, podcasts, etc.) about climate change?

I watch a lot of the Fridays For Future digital videos that come up and they’re great educational resources, especially on European politics that I do not know a lot about.



Lydia Emry, 18

Kokomo, Indiana

Instagram: @lydia.emry

How did you get involved in climate activism?

I always wanted to be involved, but I never knew how. Then, I really wanted to help our school’s environmental chapter grow. I started it by an initiative to discontinue single-use plastic within our cafeteria, which unfortunately did get struck down for budgetary reasons, but that rejection inspired me to push back and make it grow. That was when I reached out to West Lafayette’s group and then I talked to Annabel a lot and she understood what I was trying to do, where I was trying to go with it and she helped us feel to organize a new initiative through there. I was able to go and speak at the 2020 Indiana Climate Strike that the Indiana Youth Climate Coalition organized and that was the major push to get me from where I was to where I am now.


Who do you follow on social media for activism?

Obviously, Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) because I don’t really think you can be an environmental or climate change activist without following her and her work. I follow the nature conservancy (@nature_indiana) - I have a friend who is one of the researchers for the Indiana Chapter and I really like to support their work. I started following environmental groups after Greta with West Lafayette’s climate group and I followed some accounts that they followed including youth-based climate groups. I follow climate briefings (@climatebriefings) because they have a lot of informational things for social media about climate.


Others: @youthclimateaccord, @earthcharterindiana


What is one individual action you take in your daily life?

I am vegan which is the biggest way to personally decrease your carbon footprint. I actually did a 22-page essay about it for my theory of knowledge class over the impacts of a vegan lifestyle on Amazon Deforestation and global climate change. You have about a 50% decrease in your carbon emissions alone just from a vegan diet. Some smaller household things like turn off all the lights, reducing single-use plastic, bringing my reusable utensils, and trying to be as zero waste as possible.


What is one BIG impactful action you take against systemic issues? What organizations are you a part of?

Definitely trying to help as much as I can with ‘Confront the Climate Crisis’ and I am also on the mayor’s youth advisory board for my city. We give the youth’s opinion and an alternative perspective on different issues that each board is talking about. For my board, I am on the grant-making committee which is really nice because a lot of the people there are great amazing people since we do deal with a lot with Kokomo’s socioeconomic status. While I cannot vote on the grants we see, I like to think I bring a really helpful youth perspective who can see the impacts of those initiatives on Kokomo.


What are your strengths as an activist?

When I have time to prepare my answers ahead of time, I like to think that I’m a good speaker and writer. When I have all my speeches or writing stuff typed up beforehand where I can find the perfect words to use, I am really good at conveying messages. Similar to others in the campaign, I’m not afraid to take initiatives like making sure things get done and I’m typically really good about following through with all of those.


In a perfect ecotopia, what would you like to see in Indiana?

When I used to drive out to my grandparent's farm, we would always pass by all the hog farms and cattle farms. It made me sad always knowing what they would have to endure in several short months. Just knowing that any animal that is within a farm setting is there for a sanctuary rescue purpose rather than a human consumption purpose would be my perfect ecotopia.


Any tips for people who don’t have time to dive into climate activism but want to support the movement?

Look at your current lifestyle choices and see if there’s anything that can be easily eliminated that is budget-friendly. Some could be switching from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo one, that’s one less piece of disposable plastic that you’re putting into the ocean. Also, using reusable masks instead of disposable ones. However, if you do use a disposable one, make sure to cut the straps so that all the animals do not get hurt. Be responsible with where you are dumping stuff and be more responsible with your recycling.


Any media recommendations (documentaries, movies, podcasts, etc.) about climate change?

As I was doing the research for my extended essay, I always knew the impacts of agriculture on environmentalism, but the documentary “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” was a “woah” type of thing. Even my other classmates and the teacher that saw the statistics from it were like “are these real?”. Aside from that, “The Uninhabitable Earth” written by David Wallace-Wells is so amazing and focuses on some really good aspects such as sea chart predictions and explains ideas in a full-circle type of way.

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