Growing up in the small country town of Centerville, Pennsylvania, Lindsey Coffey spent much of her time outdoors and with her neighbors… They were cows! She always felt compassion towards nature and animals, which led her to participate in the Miss Earth beauty pageant. She was crowned Miss Earth in 2020.
With a background in Political Science, Coffey turned her public platform into a place of environmental awareness and green solutions. She shared with Harper’s Bazaar her view on the protection of our natural resources, climate justice, and the water crisis.
HBVN: Is there a moment in life that made you decide you wanted to become an environmental leader?
Lindsey Coffey: I have always been an environmentalist, even before I knew what that term meant. I felt the desire to care for animals and pick up litter on the side of the road. It led me to volunteer with the Humane Society and join the Adopt-a-Highway program. Nature became my emotional outlet and sanctuary.
In 2018, I experienced my first natural disaster. I was in Cape Town, South Africa, during the water crisis that became global news. The phrase “Day Zero” was coined, leading to a countdown of the day we would officially run out of water. As people took to the streets with buckets gathering water from city officials, I wanted to escape back to America to save myself from the traumatic and challenging experience. I stayed in South Africa. I endured and celebrated with the country when “Day Zero” was not reached.
That experience was the moment the climate crisis became my reality. South Africa may have been one of the first countries to run out of water, but it would not be the last. It was when I decided I had to do something about it.
HBVN: How do you inspire others to become environmental leaders in their own community?
Lindsey Coffey: Everyone has their own climate story. You don’t have to experience a natural disaster. Everyone is susceptible to being negatively affected by the climate crisis. The climate crisis does not see the socio-economic status, gender, or geographic location. It is not a matter of where, it is a matter of when.
It’s about finding the story that connects you to this planet, which will, in turn, inspire your action to save her.
HBVN: What are the key issues we are facing today?
Lindsey Coffey: There are four main contributors to the climate crisis: biodiversity loss, the water crisis, pollution, and global warming.
With biodiversity loss, we have deforestation, the coral reefs are dying, plant and animal species are going extinct. All of this and more are wreaking havoc on our natural life cycle.
Secondly, the water crisis poses the most immediate risk as it affects humanity and regional stability. This includes water scarcity, rising sea levels, and acidic oceans. Without fresh and balanced water, there is no life.
The third is pollution, including land, water, and air. However, air pollution is the most pressing. It goes hand in hand with the fourth key factor: global warming. The carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere is heating up our planet. We are one degree away from a serious shift in our atmosphere. It will cause droughts, heat waves, and famine. It will decrease our already limited water supply. The entire ecosystem will collapse. And a third of all life on earth will face extinction.
HBVN: What is destroying our planet?
Lindsey Coffey: Our reliance on fossil fuels. It is time to switch to renewable energy. Let’s target the 100 corporations that are responsible for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
HBVN: Do you have a favorite life lesson quote you found helpful that others might as well?
Lindsey Coffey: “The day you begin to make the greatest impact on the world is the day you show up for yourself, as yourself.” -Jennifer Williamson
When you’re pursuing a goal or a cause you are passionate about, that is when you find true happiness and fulfillment.
HBVN: What do you say to those who want to get involved to help with the environmental issues, but don’t know where to start?
Firstly, you can always start by altering your daily choices within your household.
For a community-based impact, go online and type in “volunteer opportunities near me”. That will introduce you to multiple sites and organizations that are making a difference in your neighborhood. Volunteers are always needed and always welcomed.
For a large-scale impact, contact one of your favorite organizations and apply for their ambassadorship program. This is a great way to connect and network with other climate activists who can act as a mentor.
The more you involve yourself with active organizations, the more opportunities you create.
HBVN: Any personal habits that contribute to your vision of success?
I like to read a lot of psychology books and research studies. It helps me understand myself better as well as the behavior of others. It’s about knowing your brand, knowing how to represent yourself, knowing how you want others to perceive you, and most importantly understanding your audience.
Sometimes the greatest obstacle we face is ourselves. I challenged myself through doubt and the rise of my own insecurities. I took a giant leap of faith and left my comfort zone while joining the Miss Earth Organization. My journey began with uncertainness, nerves, and full of doubt. I had no support, but I kept my head down, focused on my platform. I came out as the first American in history to win the international title of Miss Earth.
Even if you’re scared, uncomfortable, and filled with uncertainty, remember your passion is more powerful than your doubt.
To stay in touch with Lindsey Coffey, you can check out her website www.lindsey-coffey.com. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook: @lindseymariecoffey and Twitter: @lindseymcoffey. Coffey is always open to giving advice and discussing how you can become more active in your community.
Photographer: Sophie Cécile Xu @sophiececilexu
Hair: Kia Sterling @kiasterlinghair
Makeup: Seiya Libuchi using M.A.C cosmetics @Seiya_Makeup
Stylist: Kevin Parker @kevinLparker
Associate Stylist: Kerry Scott @kingrob1900
Asstant Stylists: Ayumi Perry @ayumiperry – Devon Moyer @devonmoyer
Casting Director: Vincent Tran
Productions: Cory Couture Productions with FTL Moda and Miss Earth
Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam