We first met Bonnie when she moved to LA, in a meditation class led by our friends from The Broad Place. It was not long after that we received our first invite from Bonnie to attend a kick-off event that led to the creation of a community-based environmental group. An actress and filmmaker by trade, it is most often in her capacity as an environmental advocate and her commitment to live a low-impact lifestyle that we perceive Bonnie.
As an Ocean Ambassador with Greenpeace, Bonnie focuses her advocacy on the issues of single-use plastic pollution and the fossil fuel and petrochemical industry—not only the after-life of plastics and how they affect ocean health, but also the adverse effects that production facilities and oil-drilling sites have on the health of nearby communities. She recently traveled to Guatemala with Rainforest Alliance to learn more about sustainable forest management and the important of biodiverse landscapes like rainforests.
And just as she's committed to supporting the work these and other organizations are doing for the causes of environmentalism and environmental justice, Bonnie also walks the walk in daily life. We catch but a glimpse of that commitment when Bonnie shows up to fill reusable containers with coffee. As we live on the other side of town, this isn't necessarily convenient; but on the other hand, it just requires planning. Bonnie is a person who demonstrates how simple these choices can be and how each of us can have an impact in our daily decisions and the habits we develop.
A few weeks ago, we visited Bonnie and her pup Billy at her home in Rustic Canyon for coffee and breakfast. On her back patio, we enjoyed a Chemex—made with a reusable filter (coming soon to our online shop!)—and almond-and-berry cake, catching up on the last few months since the pandemic began. Our friend Justin Chung joined us and took amazing photos, as usual.
We hope you enjoy the feature and interview with Bonnie, and hope you find inspiration for finding more ways to engage sustainably in the causes that speak to you.
Do you have a morning ritual?
I wake up and meditate, then take my dog Billy Blue for a walk either on the beach, the trails or to the dog park. On my walk, I usually ring my family back home in London and resist emails and Instagram till I am home boiling the water for coffee. I enjoy my cup of drip coffee with sourdough toast with a generous amount of peanut butter and homemade jam—right now it's peaches.
What was your path into activism? Was there ever a decisive moment that catalyzed your engagement?
I have always loved taking part and showing up even from a young age. I think that comes from my curious nature and joy in being around others, as well as a part of something bigger than myself. Beyond that instinctive nature, I found myself in a public space at a young age, and got to experience and meet people that opened up my lens. I wouldn’t say there was a particular moment, but rather an accumulation of experience, compassion, anger, empowerment and inspiration.
Burnout is a real challenge for activists, especially those taking on issues at the global scale! How do you maintain balance and motivation to keep moving and sustain your activism?
I always refer to myself as an advocate for the environment, rather than an activist. I am incredibly motivated by the brilliant leadership of so many climate activists, who show up every day of the year. Many people have taken to the issue because they are already being directly affected by the consequences of the climate crisis. I show up to listen, understand and amplify.
When I personally experience burnout and feel despondent I refocus on the more micro issues that I can control, like shifting habits within my home to lower my impact on the planet. It makes the issue tangible in an often overwhelming situation.
Who are some of your heroes?
How do you (or where do you go to) stay informed? Are there any particular organizations or news outlets you look to on a regular basis? Any accounts you recommend following?
Instagram is definitely my news feed, I love Future Earth, Intersectional Environmentalist, Atmos and Slow Factory for my climate justice updates. For film I have subscription to Film Comment magazine that I love.
With the pandemic, it seems like everyone’s exploring new pursuits, if not whole new ways of being! Have you picked up any new interests or pursuits since the start of it all?
I have been drawing again, something I realized I hadn’t done frequently since high school. I went to art school for college to study film but before you know it the medium of film becomes very desk bound and technical. It's been so enjoyable to free up in a sketch book. My dad and I have been drawing over zoom, portrait studies of each other or still lives I will set up that we can both see.
This time also seems to have given us time and space for reflection, both at the individual and definitely at the societal level, with lots of potential for change. Have you had any reflections on things that have continued to serve you well through this time, or things that you’ve let go of?
I have had to let go of plans and projections I had for professional projects, but by doing so it has cleared space for new things to come through, things that I think were banging at the door but I couldn’t hear them from the bustle of being “busy”. Even amidst all of the uncertainty, this time has been helping me to cultivate better trust in the world and better trust in myself within it.