From taking the train rather than an airplane to following a strict plant-based diet, there are plenty of ways to minimize our individual carbon footprint. For drag queen and climate activist Pattie Gonia, small but consistent lifestyle changes are the key. Among them, purchasing from brands that place an emphasis on regenerative agriculture.
We spoke with Pattie Gonia to get her insights on why regenerative agriculture is so important to a more sustainable future and all the reasons we should seek out farmers and brands that are investing in regenerative organic agriculture practices as she embarked on a campaign with TAZO tea.
Can you tell us a little bit about what regenerative agriculture actually is?
It’s climate change mitigation, it’s food security, it’s agriculture that cares for people and the planet and I believe it’s the future and the action we need to see brands take. At its core, regenerative organic agriculture – the path TAZO is pursuing – looks like repairing soil, and improving biodiversity as ways to sequester carbon. But holistically it’s also about caring for the people and animals who are a part of the process as well, with fair wages, strong ethics, and strong ties to every piece of the regenerative organic agriculture puzzle as a part of the shared ecosystem.
The practice is a centuries-old agriculture approach pioneered by Indigenous farmers that give back to soil health, the ecosystem, and the people who rely on the land. Today, experts like the Regenerative Organic Alliance have framed regenerative organic as an approach that encompasses soil health while also prioritizing animal welfare and worker fairness.
TAZO is currently working toward getting its full range of products Regenerative Organic Certified and is a proud ally of the Regenerative Organic Alliance.
Why should eco-conscious consumers care about regenerative agriculture?
I think we should care about regenerative agriculture because agriculture makes up so much of our carbon emissions – and so much of what we do, eat, drink. Making sure we can switch to regenerative ag will be critical to reaching carbon targets. Regenerative practices are key to improving soil health, human health, and worker justice and therefore bring intersectional climate justice to agriculture.
While legitimate regenerative agriculture is great, how can consumers avoid companies that are engaging more in greenwashing than real change?
It’s harder than ever to tell who’s greenwashing and who isn’t. So, my rule is this: I look for action. Action, action, action. What has a brand actually done? What are they doing right now? What are their ethics and morals? What’s their plan for the future? I’m blown away at what TAZO has done over the past two years to completely redesign their supply chain, switch to regenerative ag, and gain certifications like USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Fair Trade USA Certified™ for their new Regenerative tea line. On top of that, TAZO has put their money where their mouth is when it comes to partnerships like their partnership with Rodale Institute for their regenerative launch.
What is your advice to someone who wants to live a sustainable life, but might feel overwhelmed wondering how to make a difference?
I rely on the words of a climate elder of mine, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. “Ask yourself: What brings me joy? What is the work that needs doing? What are you good at? At the intersection of those questions is going to be your unique plan for action.”
Do everything you can to remove shame from your life [when it comes to] environmentalism. Shame never works as a motivator. Be kind to yourself. Pursue sustainable environmentalism.
Anything else you want to tell us about climate activism?
Nature is so queer. No planet, no pride. Go outside, please. You are loved.