Climate Hero Q&A: Zahra Biabani
In World War Zero's Climate Hero Q&A series, our team goes one-on-one with some of the most influential voices of the climate movement.
Zahra Biabani is a Gen Z climate activist and influencer. She is the founder of In the Loop, a startup focused on sustainable fashion, and the creator of Soulful Seeds, a blog addressing mindful living and the climate crisis. Zahra also runs a popular TikTok account.
WW0: Tell us about yourself and what you do outside the sphere of climate change.
Zahra Biabani: I'm a 20-something-year-old with a passion for helping the planet and its people. Outside the sphere of climate change, I volunteer with organizations that help survivors of human trafficking, study fashion, lift weights, and spend time in faith communities.
WW0: As a global village, what's our biggest opportunity to reverse climate change?
ZB: I think our biggest opportunity to reverse climate change is in the "unsexy" -- changing the way we produce and use concrete, taxing emissions, and honoring Indigenous wisdom and land management practices. I think we focus too much on the glitter of climate tech and forget that there are so many climate change reversal opportunities that aren't contingent on venture capitalists or engineers. As a global village, I think our biggest opportunity to reverse climate change is viewing the climate crisis as an intersectional crisis and pushing for policies that treat it as such.
CSIS: Charting a Path for Just Transitions, March 10, 2021.
WW0: What aspect of climate change do you think isn't talked about enough?
ZB: This is a great question! I think what isn’t talked about enough in the realm of climate conversations is how climate change is already affecting communities far and wide. Babies are already being born with a predisposition to certain ailments and illnesses due to the environments in which they are raised. Intergenerational environmental trauma is not an uncommon phenomenon. There is no shortage of problems pertaining to climate injustice. It is not enough to act now to save future generations, we also must act now to protect current generations from what they are already facing.
WW0: Are you working on a specific project that you'd like the world to know about?
ZB: I am! After feedback from followers and Gen Z'ers interested in eco-friendly fashion, I have identified a need for something in the market that allows people to support ethical and sustainable fashion brands without breaking the bank. In the next few months I am launching a super exciting project that I hope will revolutionize the sustainable and ethical fashion landscape, making it more accessible to the masses. Follow @rentintheloop on Instagram to stay updated on the launch -- we are launching the Beta community for a select number of people in late August!
WW0: What does the term "Environmental Justice" mean to you?
ZB: Environmental justice means a holistic approach to environmental protection that considers the well-being of all living creatures in addition to the land we live on. Environmental justice is the uplifting of marginalized communities who have faced the brunt of negative impacts of climate change.
WW0: We love your "Good News Friday" Tik Toks! Why do you find "environmental optimism" to be a priority?
ZB: Thank you so much! I was inspired by my friend Kathryn Kellogg and her Good News Friday series, as they always brought me such joy. I asked her if she would be okay with me joining the movement (with an added component of dance), and she said yes! I've realized that so many people who identify as environmentalists, including myself, need some sort of constant encouragement amidst the influx of negative news. It is so easy to get bogged down with the negative and lose steam in your activism and advocacy. I've found that environmental/climate optimism is a framework that helps me sustain my advocacy work. Without a sense of optimism surrounding what the future could be, what’s the point of working towards it?
WW0: Was there an event or cause that compelled you to fight climate change?
ZB: Interestingly enough, I was brought into the climate movement through the anti-trafficking movement. As I was diving deep into ways to conquer human trafficking, I learned about the conscious consumerism movement. I learned that there were two main footprints of every product: the environmental footprint and the human footprint. As I was learning about this, my city (Houston, TX) was about to experience one of the worst floods in decades due to Hurricane Harvey. Seeing the destruction and devastation that Hurricane Harvey caused for so many, especially BIPOC communities, was a huge call to action for me.
WW0: How do we bring more people together around climate change?
ZB: Climate change already is and will continue to affect every single human on this planet. Some people are able to use their privilege to delay or diminish these effects, but as a global community, none of us are absolved from them. Everything from the healthcare crisis to the refugee crisis is amplified with climate change. It is our duty to protect our fellow global citizens and our future generations by stepping up to the plate. I think it is imperative that we remind people of this threat that climate change poses and the responsibility that we have to conquer it. It all starts with conversations. Engage your loved ones in conversations about this topic -- you never know where the conversations will lead you.
WW0: What do you think is the Biden Administrations biggest opportunity to lower emissions?
ZB: I think the Biden administration has a unique opportunity to lower emissions through a corporate carbon tax that could be invested into marginalized communities that have suffered from environmental racism. The Administration also needs to put together a robust job retraining program that will help workers in extractive industries (i.e. coal mining) transition to new jobs in the green economy. These are just two action items amidst a laundry list of goals, but I think that they are good places to start.
WW0: If you had an audience with leaders of the world's most polluting nations, what would you say to them?
ZB: It's time to consider your people. There is no business on a dead planet. To countries that have already reaped the benefits from rapid industrialization and pollution of the planet -- it is time to pay for your actions. We need to bear the responsibility of our actions.
Zahra Biabani: Is Thrifting Ethical? Let's Talk Conscious Thrifting!, August 20, 2020.
Zahra Biabani: What is Greenwashing?, January 27, 2020.