Earth Day Spotlight: Belinda Chiu
A series where we shine the spotlight on a purpose-driven thought leader who’s grabbed our attention and we believe deserves to have yours.
Belinda C. Chiu (she/her) is an environmental justice activist and community educator, workshop organizer, facilitator, writer, and artist based on traditional Lenape lands, also known as New York City.
She is passionate about designing a healthy blueprint for individuals to live with the environment in mind and become change-makers in their communities.
Belinda founded the sustainability platform @ahealthyblueprint which serves as a resource for low impact living, environmental justice, and community engagement opportunities. Through her work, she became involved in composting advocacy in NYC, and is known for her crowdsourced food scrap drop-off tracker.
We reached out to honor her contributions as a proactive voice in environmental justice and were excited when she agreed to share a bit of her world with us and our readers. We curated a few of our favorite Earth Day-themed questions to help us get to know Belinda a bit better. He’s what she shared!
What’s your most recommended book or podcast?
It’s hard to choose just one! As someone who regularly digests political news for work in addition to merely living in our world today, I’ve really enjoyed NPR’s Life Kit podcast which helps listeners navigate everything from more “serious” topics like mental health and coping with anxiety from the news, to light-hearted ones such as cooking and gardening.
Is zero waste or sustainable consumption ableist? Why or why not?
I think the zero waste movement absolutely can be when it doesn’t keep people living with disabilities (PLWD) in mind. For example, those pushing for policy changes such as eliminating single-use plastics could do better with incorporating input from PLWD, since completely removing utensils and straws from food service establishments may not be accommodating those who need these items.
Municipal programs also should consider all the communities they serve. Take composting programs in NYC. We have food scrap drop-off sites throughout our boroughs and I’m unsure what percentage of them are accessible to PLWD. It might be easier for some if curbside organics collection pick-up services were available for all residential buildings so travel and distance would be less of an issue. Cities need to think about these things, engage stakeholders in conversations and planning, and invest appropriately so they can accommodate everyone.
Do you think about your environmental footprint? Why or why not?
Yes, but it’s less top-of-mind since I think my low impact lifestyle helps maintain a smaller footprint relative to the average American. I will say I used to think about it at a frequency that I now think is probably unhealthy because as an individual, yes we can make changes in our personal lives, but there are changes that need to happen at a larger scale.
What effect do corporations have on the environment and public health? How should they be held accountable?
Corporations can play a HUGE role affecting the environment and our public health. One of the biggest issues is product manufacturers with large footprints that don’t perform life cycle assessments. Without them, they can’t begin to understand their environmental impacts (e.g. the finite resources they’re depleting, emissions and waste generated, and other detrimental effects to living beings and the environment).
For far too long animals, humans, and the environment have been taking the brunt of pollution and waste from corporations, and we are told that as individuals we need to recycle responsibly and not litter, but systemic level change needs to happen. Some legislation has been introduced to shift the responsibility back onto producers (examples: extended producer responsibility, bans on landfilling food waste).
Did you grow up with access to nature? What effect do you think it had on your childhood?
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house with a backyard and attend an elementary school that was a few blocks from a local park. I don’t think I understood the value of having access to nature when I was younger, but I look back on those memories fondly — we enjoyed surprise sightings of the turtles in our backyard and would forage wildflowers in the meadows after school. I think having access to nature as a child nurtured my curiosity as I entered adulthood. Now I care for houseplants and enjoy pausing and looking up and around at the trees and plants around me.
If you want to explore more questions about sustainability and environmental justice, we have curated a set of questions from all our four Actually Curious decks to help guide your conversations, this month + forever.
Click here to head over to Actually Curious and download your very own digital Earth Month question pack for free.
About Curiosity Lab
Curiosity Lab is a purpose-driven creative studio that produces products, content, and experiences that advocate for a more inclusive and empathetic world. Join us in a movement to train one-million empathy experts!
Michael A. Tennant
Michael Tennant is a former media, advertising, and non-profit veteran, founder of Curiosity Lab, and the creator of Actually Curious the Card Game and ValuesExercise.com. Featured by NY Times, Entrepreneur, Inc, NBC Today, and more, Michael uses his storytelling platform to spread necessary narratives around diversity, mental health, and empathy.