This Spotlight interview was conducted by SLP intern Ella Katagas, a senior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, New York.
Juliet Homes, 17, is a sustainability activist from New York City. Raised in Manhattan, Juliet now attends Northfield Mount Hermon, a high school in Gill, Massachusetts.
What is your first memory of being an activist?
Growing up, activism was always ingrained in me. It was something I was taught to be important and, as I got older, I kind of pushed it away. Then, in January 2017, I attended the Women’s March in Washington DC. Being with all of those hundreds of women, hundreds of thousands of women, where you couldn’t even move. It was so invigorating. The experience showed me just how powerful activism can be.
What is the cause you care most about now and how did you get involved?
I am an environmental sustainability advocate. When I was 15 years old, I watched a documentary on climate change called,‘Ice on Fire’. I was so scared after watching it that I stayed up for the entire night googling about climate change. I asked questions like, what is sustainability? How does it impact the planet? How can I help? Since that night, I have been dedicated to changing my own daily habits and inspiring my community to better protect the environment.
Now I am one of three students on my school faculty’s Task Force for Sustainability. We meet bi-weekly to make budgetary and policy choices to help make our campus more eco-friendly. One of the projects I have helped with is the creation of a 10 year plan to transition all of our school buses from gas to electric energy. We also work with the school’s eco leaders to help regulate water usage in dorms and advise students on how to live more sustainable lifestyles. We are also partnering with surrounding schools to help them become more eco friendly.
How do you feel the impacts of climate change in your community?
Our school is on a mountain so we typically get a lot of snow every year. But now the weather is more unpredictable. Certain areas are getting more snow and certain areas are getting more heat waves. Here, in the winter, the weather should be below zero. In December we had a blizzard and then in January it was warm and then in February it was back to freezing again. This weather behavior doesn’t make sense and shows how climate change is impacting just my specific community. I chose the word climate change not global warming because the world is not technically warming it is just changing the way lines of latitude and longitude affect places. The lines are becoming wavy.
We are seeing the impact of climate change across the world and this work is more important now than ever.
This can feel so daunting- how have you changed your daily habits to lessen your own impact on the environment? What do you suggest to other young people who want to do the same?
I try to eat vegan as much as possible and, last summer, I decided to go completely waste free. It was a really enlightening experience. Even actions as small as switching from plastic to metal straws have an echo out effect. I think it’s easier to change the habits of young people than older people and that’s why I work so hard to engage my peers in sustainability efforts.
If you could give SLP students and other young activists one piece of advice, what would it be?
Think deeply about where you are right now and what you care about in life, and then take that and move with that.