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Sea Turtle in the Ocean

Photo by: Mitchell Pettigrew

Mitchell Pettigrew

Every Week Should Be World Oceans Week

By: Danni Washington and Leah Weber

Danni Washington is not only the face of Discovery Exploration, but she is also an ocean advocate and conservationist who has plans on how everyone can make a big impact.

June 16, 2020

We started off the month of June with World Oceans Week, but what can we do the other 51 weeks a year to make the world’s oceans our priority? We talked to Danni about her journey and how she made the decision to dedicate her life to ocean conservation.

Ocean Baby

Danni’s inspiration started at a very young age, “My love for the ocean began when I was six years old while growing up in Miami, Florida.” But even before then, young Danni got her sea legs with her beach-going parents. Proximity to the ocean allowed her to embrace her surroundings, “My curiosity blossomed as I grew older and my activism was sparked while in high school attending a specialized marine science magnet program.” Danni started local, speaking to students about her passions and the negative impact that humans can have on ocean health.

Next steps? Completing a higher education from the University of Miami in marine science and biology, where Danni realized facts are great but, how can people really absorb the information and change their daily lives. “I quickly learned that it wasn’t enough to spew out facts and data to prove that humanity needed to pay attention to the declining health of our blue planet. By shifting my tactics toward the art of storytelling and hosting video content on television, I have been able to connect with many people and various communities,” said Danni.

As Danni moved forward with her passions as an ocean advocate, she started a youth-led non-profit organization with her mother, Big Blue & You, Inc (BB&Y). “Our mission is to inspire and educate young people to love and care for the ocean using art & media,” said Danni. Discussing the Miami-based organization “Big Blue & You aims to actively inspire that love and admiration for the ocean as opposed to fear and misunderstanding.” Using her platform, Danni has continued to inspire change globally.

Ocean of Change

Danni believes, “Individuals can make a huge impact daily by shifting their mentality first. People need to reimagine the world and be inspired to question every behavior in order to assess if that behavior is detrimental to other people and the planet.” Danni has some quick advice on things to change daily to create big change.

1) Begin by swapping the single-use plastic items with reusable items.

2) Consider composting at home and growing your own food in a garden to help with sequestering excess carbon out of the atmosphere. If you don’t have space to grow a full garden, invest in carbon credits or pay for the planting of trees in your community.

3) Consider a plant-based diet where you cut out livestock, dairy, and seafood. If you’re unable to be completely plant-based, then try to transition to eat meat, poultry or fish only a couple times a week.

“Multiply these simple behavior changes by 7 billion people and we will see a massive positive shift.“

Beyond individual changes, the younger generation needs to be inspired to make small changes, as well. “I would encourage young people to BE the change they want to see in the world,” Danni implores. “They have to unapologetically demonstrate new behavior patterns that others can visibly witness and be inspired to change their own ways. No one is motivated by a guilt driven conversation and someone else belaboring the plethora of ways we are actively destroying the planet. We all need tangible solutions that we can apply to our busy lives on a daily basis. Otherwise, majority of people are liable to fall back into a pattern of apathy.”

A New Wave, In Danni’s Words

Currently, ocean conservation is moving toward making a shift to include new leaders and perspectives in the movement. Climate justice has always been cognizant of intersectionality. The ocean community, which has traditionally been occupied by affluent individuals, is being summoned to do the same through intersectional environmentalism, a term coined by young activist Leah Thomas—it means redefining an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet.

It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are interconnected. It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the earth, to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality. I’m inspired by the idea that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) are beginning to elevate into leadership roles and now have the opportunity to influence key decisions about our human interaction with the ocean. Communities of color are generally on the frontlines of the negative impacts of climate change and deserve a seat at the table when determining how to build climate resilience.

Humanity will only survive if we continually reflect the unique and diverse collective of voices that inhabit Planet Ocean.

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