Living environmental-ish means taking small, earth-first steps that add up to big change for our planet. That could include bringing tote bags to the grocery store (when you remember), drinking from a reusable water bottle, or buying organic produce. We’re here to celebrate every meaningful step towards a better planet — even if those steps aren’t perfect.
In this series celebrities, influencers, business leaders and everyday people share the details of their Environmental-ish journeys, and the wins and failures along the way.
We were so excited to chat with Blake Moynes. You may recognize him from the latest season of the Bachelorette but he is also a wildlife conservation advocate and the founder of the Mowgli Moynes Fund which supports animal education and awareness, and funds wildlife conservation organizations and charities.
Q: For those who don’t know you, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Aside from being on The Bachelorette twice now in my little reality TV journey, I’ve really taken a turn and found a need to give back. Traveling around South Africa last year opened my eyes to the poaching crisis and I started diving in more to what could be done to help.
When I landed on the show, a platform came with it, and I decided I would try to use this platform for good. So I’ve transitioned into the wildlife conservation space and now use my platform to spread awareness about conservation initiatives and projects that people can join in on and support. There needs to be a change on this front and I’m trying to help move that along.
Q: I’d love to hear a bit about your environmental-ish journey. Who or what first influenced you to care about the planet?
It really started when I was young. My mom and I joke about this because when I was in grade one, there was a project we had to do and I decided to do mine on tigers, poaching, and why the tiger populations were declining. I remember one of the big questions was what would you do to fix this problem and help tigers? And my answer was, “Kill the poachers.”
Looking back I laugh at the intensity of my response, but I had such an interest in nature when I was younger and a passion for wildlife. I had a cottage growing up where I was surrounded by nature. I would lift rocks and logs looking for frogs, salamanders, and turtles wanting to learn more about them. I had packages coming in the mail each week that would outline the geography and eating habits of every single animal you could think of. My parents recognized this passion so I was fortunate to be inundated with stuff as a kid.
Despite this enthusiasm when I was younger, I feel like I got lost in university and high school a little bit with playing hockey, going to bars, and losing interest in what I really wanted to do and what really made me happy. But when twenty-seven came around, I matured a little bit and started focusing on what made me happiest again. I landed on the show and things just kind of went from there. And now it feels like everyone is winning.
Q: Are there any environmental-ish lifestyle choices you make that you’d be willing to share?
One of the main things I focus on every day is the decisions I make and being conscious of whether they are selfish, or planet-first. Eating meat is a great example. Do I love the taste of steak? Yeah, I do. But is that just a selfish decision that I’m making for myself at the moment? I know leaving meat out of my diet is better for the planet and I know it’s better for my kids in the future. To me it’s important we stop justifying these selfish decisions and turning a blind eye to the major issues our planet is facing.
I’ve completely reduced my intake of red meat in the last three years and I started breaking it down by animal. I couldn’t go cold turkey right away, so I thought about what animal has the worst environmental impact. And that was cows and then pigs. So I stopped eating both three years ago. After that, I started to cut out other animals that in my culture, my mom’s Portuguese, were always on the dinner table. So I’d say consumption of animal products and byproducts was the number one thing I changed. I’ve really narrowed it down to a small portion of things that I will touch on here and there, but it’s not about being perfect. It’s just making little, little changes.
What else do I do on the regular? I suck at cooking vegan food so I usually have it pre-done for me… But if it comes packaged in plastic, then I’m like, “Ah, maybe I can find a place that offers better packaging, something biodegradable.” So I’m trying to think about those little decisions that all add up in the big scheme of things.
Like I said though, the biggest thing I think people need to focus on is animal agriculture. It’s the number one thing that we don’t like to talk about because we love food and it’s easy to be selfish. It’s an awful thing. We need to be thinking about humanity as a whole and not just ourselves. If people are waking up every day and starting to consider things based on how good they are for the planet, then we’re on the right track towards having a lot more folks out there that are environmental-ish.
Q: Living sustainably is about progress, not perfection. Are there any eco-friendly lifestyle choices that you still want to grow in?
Plastic has been a struggle lately. I’ve been living with my mom for the last two months. Things have been kind of crazy and I’m looking at places now to move out on my own. But I’ve realized when you’re living with somebody else and they’re buying the groceries everything is covered in plastic. It’s like ugh, right? When I’m on my own I can make the decision to avoid excess packaging.
Aside from that, travel is difficult. I’ve been flying around a lot in the last two years. When I was with Katie and needed to go see her and do show related stuff, I had to fly. I couldn’t avoid it so I tried to balance it by not eating meat. Making decisions like that, it’s not perfect but it’s about trying to balance things.
I also have a Dodge Ram truck that I bought three years ago for work. I don’t need the truck now and so people are on me on Instagram. “Well, you have a truck. How can you be for wildlife conservation when you have a truck that creates emissions?” And my response to that is, “I get it. If I had the money to go buy a Tesla right now or something better, I would.” It’s important to recognize that there’s going to be a transition with these things. No one is going to be perfect and the first step is always understanding there is a need to change. And as soon as I have the ability to make that change, I’m going to.
Q: Are there any funny attempts at living sustainably (that didn’t quite turn out as you’d hoped) that you’d be open to share?
So when I came back from Kenya water consumption is something you need to be super aware of because they don’t have it flowing from taps where I was the way we do here. So having a shower there, for example, you only get a certain amount of liters. You basically dump it on yourself, you lather, you’re cold while it’s happening, and then you do a quick rinse. During my time there I realized how important water consumption was not only with bathing but with flushing as well.
When I came home, I have a separate washroom that I use that my mom isn’t in all the time. I’m sure many people have heard the rule if it’s yellow, let it mellow. Well, after my experience in Kenya, I’ve been doing that and I’ve been letting it mellow for way too long and it started staining the inside of the bowl. My mom wants me to flush, but I’m like, “No, we can’t for water consumption.” Needless to say, we go back and forth on that one. I just have to keep on myself to clean a little bit more. Things like that I’m bringing home but aren’t necessarily translating well with my mom. But it’s better for the planet, and so that’s important. I’d rather take a stained bowl than lose water.
Q: Do you have any go-to resources for sustainable living?
I’m on Instagram way too much each day, because it’s part of my life now and my job, so I follow every single type of climate change account and conservation account that I can find. Unfortunately, the issues we’re talking about aren’t always on the news as much as they should be, so we need to go out of our way to actively inform ourselves.
And I force myself. I don’t like seeing cows being hurt in a video that came up from an organic dairy farm, but I force myself because it allows me to get emotional and reconnect with why I don’t eat cows. It sucks, and it makes me emotional but I feel like I have to. If you really want to learn, scroll through the accounts I’m following and start following. These accounts really pull the most pertinent information and put it into little snippets for you. There’s a picture and a video and within two minutes you have all the info you need in that little moment. It’s there and it can be a great newsfeed, you just have to use it the right way.
Q: What tips would you have for someone who wants to live eco-friendly but doesn’t know where to start?
I think the main thing for me getting started was educating myself and making myself aware. When you see the truth, it’s kind of a wake-up call. It’s like “Hey if I want my kids to have an amazing life, I need to start making these decisions now.” Education and animal consumption are the two most obvious starting points for me because they’re within your power to change today. You can’t sell your car today and buy an electric vehicle, but you can make a change when you go to the grocery store and decide what you purchase.
The other thing to consider, as people are getting out after being confined at home for the last two years, is that a lot of people our age want to go to all-inclusive resorts and party and drink. But if you have the resources, consider setting that experience aside and go do something like an eco-tour or wildlife tourism, where it’s giving back and offering you an experience you’ve never had before. In my experience, when you actually go and see what’s happening when you’re working with elephants and rhinos, you come home feeling more connected to the cause. You start to buy in, you start to follow organizations, and you feel a part of it in a new way.
Enjoyed this Environmental-ish Confession? Check out our conversation with Pattie Gonia, who’s bringing drag and diversity outdoors.