Eco-Warriors Profile: Anna Masiello Fights Climate Change One Broken Umbrella At a Time
On her way home, 26-year-old Anna Masiello saw a trash bag with beautiful flowers popping out and took them to decorate her living room. A few steps later, she spotted a broken umbrella sticking out of another trash, which she took knowing that later she’d turn that same water-proof material into a perfectly good raincoat. So there she was, walking with discarded flowers, a broken umbrella, and a huge smile. Where once she’d perceived trash, dirt and yuckiness, she now saw opportunity, creativity and a chance to do something positive for the environment.
Anna is based in Lisbon and is working toward a Master’s degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. She uses her Instagram account @hero_to_0 to talk about sustainability and has a special focus on conscious consumption, food waste and low impact lifestyle. She also co-founded a startup about waste reduction and sustainable fashion, and works as a freelancer as a zero waste consultant and social media manager. She was also selected as a TOP 10 Eco-Warrior in Europe, and we were lucky enough to ask her a few questions recently.
What aspect of climate change do you think isn’t talked about enough?
I think we should talk more about climate change as a social justice issue: the fact that it is technically quite easy to change, makes the issue a political one. How we go about it might either raise inequality or erase inequality.
If you had a million dollars to donate to a cause, which would it be?
I would use it to support reforestation projects for both trees on land and corals in water.
How is climate change approached in your country? The good, the bad and the ugly …
Good: Portugal is one of the most ambitious countries in terms of climate pledges
Bad: since the global picture is so bad, this still means that if all countries did like Portugal we would not keep the Paris Agreement promise to stay below 2 degrees.
Ugly: even though Portugal has pledges, none of it is binding by law and if we keep the actual current policies we won’t even keep the promise
Are you working on a specific project that you’d like the world to know about?
When I moved to Lisbon I started noticing that when it rains there are broken umbrellas everywhere in the streets and in the trash. I didn’t want them to end up incinerated, so I bought a sewing machine and started turning them into coats. That simple idea now turned into a community-based brand called R-Coat: there are collection points all around the country where people (umbrella heroes) can bring their broken umbrellas, reducing their environmental footprint. I then collect the umbrellas and create many unique R-Coats! Yay to circular economy and yay to the power of people!
Even as Anna fights against climate change and inequality, she still sees hope. When people share with her the small changes they make in their lifestyles, she feels excited and “always makes a happy dance!” She believes that the secret to lasting change is in deciding to make positive changes in our personal habits. You go girl!
Check Anna’s Instagram feed at https://www.instagram.com/hero_to_0/