The Art of Activism: Hannah Tizedes on Turning Trash into Environmental Awareness

The Art of Activism: Hannah Tizedes on Turning Trash into Environmental Awareness

In a world fraught with environmental challenges, the synergy of art and activism has emerged as a potent force for change. Meet Hannah Tizedes, an extraordinary artist and environmental activist. Raised amidst the natural splendor of Michigan and the majestic Great Lakes, Hannah witnessed the disheartening sight of litter washing ashore on these pristine beaches. This experience ignited her passion for environmental conservation.

Hannah’s journey epitomizes the transformative potential of creativity. She embarked on a mission to collect plastic debris from beaches worldwide, fashioning these discarded fragments into captivating works of art. Her art serves a dual purpose: raising awareness about plastic pollution and climate change, and inspiring individuals to take concrete actions for a cleaner, more sustainable planet. In this exclusive interview, Hannah shares her inspirational odyssey, the genesis of The Cleanup Club, and her insights on the intersection of art and environmental advocacy.

Dive into her world, where vibrant creativity converges with climate activism, and discover how Hannah is kindling hope amidst the formidable challenges of our time.

Can you tell us about your journey as an environmental activist and artist? How did you become interested in addressing environmental issues through art?

I was raised by creative and resourceful parents. My mom was always crafting or pit-stopping at garage sales and my dad was always entertaining my elaborate clubhouse buildout ideas or building something functional out of scrap materials. But it wasn’t until later in my life that I came to appreciate those acts for who they made me today.

At university, I paired my creative studies with sustainability studies, worked at the campus recycling center where I was able to explore fun creative projects, and began collecting trash from my travels around the world & the Great Lakes for art pieces I was brainstorming. After learning more about plastic pollution and seeing it from coast to coast, but especially its impact on my home state’s shorelines, I knew I wanted to use my creativity as a vehicle for change. My hope is and was to create art that makes people take a deeper look – literally and figuratively – at the impact plastic pollution has on the planet. I hope people feel inspired to do what they can, with what they have, wherever they are for a less trashy earth.

You have a very unique style of creating your artworks with plastic, and microplastic. Why did you choose this medium?

I’m from Michigan, so I grew up surrounded by the Great Lakes. These lakes hold ~90% of the US’s freshwater, provide drinking water to 40+ million people, offer endless amounts of beauty, and are home to thousands of plants and animals. They’re so special. And yet every year it’s estimated that around 22 million pounds of plastic pollution enters them. At the same time, I have always been captivated by the rainbow of plastic I find on their shorelines. So I created something with those pieces to help tell the story I was witnessing.

Hannah Tizedes collecting ocean plastic to create her artwork with them.
Photo Courtesy – Tianna Samone Creatives

As the founder of The Cleanup Club, could you tell us more about the initiative and its goals? How do you encourage others to get involved in cleaning up their communities and reducing plastic waste?

The Cleanup Club is a nonprofit dedicated to educating communities on Great Lakes plastic pollution while having fun through cleanups, collaborations, conversations & creativity. I think so often people feel overwhelmed with climate news or plastic pollution news, yet they want to help make the world a better place. And I wanted to help make that super simple while building a community of people that care. It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer, local barista, or school teacher – everyone is welcome to join in. I also do my best in providing uplifting experiences for everyone so instead of walking away from a cleanup thinking “shit, that was a lot of trash, what now?” people can walk away with resources to local zero-waste shops & refillers, with fun sustainable giveaways in hand, and more. That way, their positive impact doesn’t just stop at the cleanup.

What challenges have you faced as an environmental activist and artist? How do you navigate these challenges and stay motivated to continue your work?

I always try to look at the bright side of things. The little actions add up and it’s really incredible to have people tell me that they’re inspired by my work and because of it, they did X, Y, or Z. I’ve definitely hit bumps in the road where I’ve thought, “what is this all for?” or “does my work even matter?” but then I go outside and I’m reminded of my why. The beauty of this amazing planet we get to call home is the best reminder out there and that’s why I continue to advocate to protect it.

How do you believe art can be a powerful tool for raising awareness about environmental issues? What role do you think art can play in inspiring action and driving positive change?

I believe art is an incredibly important tool in raising awareness about environmental issues. Art makes us feel something. Art is powerful. Whether it’s through music, painting, literature, photography, and so on, art has the ability to story-tell so many different narratives when it comes to issues we feel deeply about. I think that inspiration can then be transformed into action and the art can be used as a vehicle for positive change.

How do you think artists can collaborate to make the climate movement stronger and more fruitful?

There are endless possibilities for artists to collaborate and help convey moving messages regarding climate change. I think we’re continuing to see more collaborations around these topics which is wonderful, however, I think we do need to be aware of greenwashing when it comes to brand collaborations and partnerships and stay true to our ‘why’ in this work (aka Earth).

As an artivist, how do you balance the artistic and activist aspects of your work? How do you ensure that your art remains impactful and thought-provoking while also conveying a message of hope and empowerment?

I love making my work colorful. For me, that’s really important because I think colorful things are joyful. I also do my best at providing context behind materials I use to help educate people on things I’m finding on the beach like microplastics, mesoplastics, etc. while providing ways to take action through policy and local advocacy efforts.

What’s your take on climate optimism?

I think optimism in all aspects of life is a wonderful thing. The world we live in nowadays can be filled with so much doom & gloom, so like José Gonzalez, Founder of Latino Outdoors said, we need more “do and bloom” instead.

What would your advice be to someone in the climate movement who feels hopeless and burned out?

The weight of the planet does not need to sit on your shoulders. It is a collective effort towards a better future for all. Whenever you’re feeling down, get outside. Kick off your shoes and go play in nature. Then, find a local organization making a positive impact and get involved. A community can be so healing too – to both ourselves and the planet.

How do you envision your future?

Filled with gratitude and love for the people, places, and spaces I get the opportunity to know, explore, and nourish. I’m less focused on how I want the future to look and more focused on how I want it to feel.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

There are so many but at the end of the day, I love watching people thrive and grow doing what they love. Those are the people who inspire me most, people who follow their passions – and bonus points when it’s an earth-friendly passion, of course.

How can others join you in the climate movement or support your work?

People can feel free to follow my work on Instagram, @hannahtizedes, (where I share the majority of my art & advocacy), and/or follow my nonprofit’s work and learn more about Great Lakes plastic pollution and our efforts to protect them at

This is a part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet, and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Elevating Climate Consciousness Through Art: An Interview with Dorcas

Elevating Climate Consciousness Through Art: An Interview with Dorcas

In a world grappling with pressing environmental issues, artists are stepping up to inspire conversations and ignite change. From the vibrant cityscape of Singapore emerges Dorcas Tang Wen Yu, whose creative journey beautifully marries her artistic passion with her dedication to shedding light on climate change, biodiversity, and our intricate relationship with the natural world.

Drawing from her innate love for art and the solace of journaling, Dorcas has embarked on a transformative voyage. What began as an exploration of personal thoughts and stories evolved into a purposeful fusion of art and activism. Her intricate artwork and thought-provoking writing now serve as vehicles to convey vital messages about our environment. Join us as we delve into this insightful interview, exploring Dorcas’ inspirations, the potent role of eco-artistry, and her unyielding commitment to nurturing a more sustainable and harmonious planet for all.

Tell us about your creative journey. How did you become interested in art and writing?

Since young, I have always loved art as a way to express myself. I often journalled down my thoughts in order to understand them, and made up silly stories to help me get through chemistry classes. I had started a small art business at that time and decided to just insert a few pieces to spark conversation about the subject. Slowly, they started to gain attention, so I decided to transition into climate artivism because I realized that this was a good way to get the ball rolling.

What inspires you to create your artwork?

A lot of things! I look to nature a lot to seek wisdom about the way the world works. My personal experiences, emotions, and other people’s personal stories help me to understand the world a lot better which translates into my artwork.

Through your artwork and writing you try to raise awareness on climate change, biodiversity, our connection with nature and so many more topics. When and why did you choose to focus on these themes/topics?

The more I learned about climate justice, the more I understand that this is a values issue. It’s not that we don’t know about climate change, but our systems are built such that we rarely have the mental capacity to think about it because we are constantly focused on surviving. Planetary, community, and self-care. All of these things are interconnected and I try to infuse these narratives into both the process and output of my art. Currently, there’s a disconnect between the way climate science is being communicated. So by touching on themes of care, and using whimsical imagery to get people’s attention, I hope to get people more emotionally invested in caring about the issue.

As an artist, what role do you think eco-artists and storytellers play in addressing climate change and promoting a sustainable lifestyle?

There are also many ways to engage the community through art, not just in communications. I like to think of it in terms of the head, heart, and the soul. Art can be used to break down difficult information into narratives that are more digestible for the wider community to consume. This is especially important because climate knowledge can be very dense and full of jargon. The second is to engage the heart. What are the emotional barriers that drive or impede us to take climate action? How do we feel about it? What kind of personal stories can we bring in to make it more relatable? How can we drive conversation around it by engaging the community in a way that is fun and participatory? And the last is to engage the soul. There is a Malay saying that goes, “Tak kenal maka tak cinta”, which translated into “You can’t love what you don’t know.” I’ve realized that one of the key reasons why, especially in Singapore, people don’t feel especially invested in climate action, is because our systems and urban environment are far removed from nature. Thus, art is an effective way to help people notice the beauty and joy of nature, and build a stronger connection with it. Using this 3 pronged method, art can be a holistic way to drive climate action.

What’s your take on climate optimism as an artist/artivist?

It’s constant practice! It’s hard to be an optimist all the time, but what I try to do is just to live in the present moment and know that I cannot control what happens in the future. Holding onto the faith that eventually it’ll be better, even if it’s not in my lifetime or in the near future.

Dorcas, apart from art and writing, do you have other hobbies?

Haha, my other hobbies are pretty boring, I love to watch shows and listen to music in my downtime. I especially love animations! My favorites are Wolfwalkers and Avatar the Last Airbender, for their takes on environmental and social issues. I also really love listening to artists like AURORA and Melanie Martinez because of the rawness of their music and the way it speaks to the human experience.

How do you try to practice sustainability in your regular life?

  1. Trying as much as possible to say no to plastic! Although it is definitely really hard.
  2. As an artist, ordering low quantities of merchandise and from sustainable sources as much as possible. Also making sure to reuse packaging or to avoid it entirely.
  3. Taking public transport or walking most of the time!
  4. Keeping up to date with climate news when I have the emotional capacity
  5. Upcycling my old clothing, buying second hand or swapping
  6. Educating others gently on sustainability 

What is your favorite local food? Does climate change have any impact on it?

I love love love pork porridge. Although I would love to be, I am not vegan at the moment. But the impact of the meat industry in its contribution to climate change is something I think about often, so I am trying to reduce my consumption of it, and looking for alternatives that taste as good!

You have an e-book, “Happily, Ever After ?” – can you tell us a bit about it and how it explores eco-emotions?

Happily, Ever After?” is a collection of poems centered around the emotions experienced in the midst of our long and grueling fight against climate change. Explored through familiar fairytale creatures and tropes, this collection seeks to acknowledge the intense feelings that one might experience, questioning if there is an end to our emotions in the uncertain fate of our homeland. And most importantly, the nagging question that sits at the back of our minds: Is there a ‘happily, ever after?’

What would your advice be to someone in the climate movement who feels hopeless and burned out?

Slow down. It’s ok to take a step back, and if taking climate action ends up negatively impacting your life, then that defeats the purpose of the movement too. Rest if needed, find community, and know that you are not alone.

How do you envision your future?

My hope is that human and nature rights eventually become obvious to us, and our policies will reflect this shift in values. Embrace prioritizing care for one another as opposed to chasing extractive measurements of success. I think we can have more events where people in ASEAN can exchange stories with each other so that we can have a stronger sense of community and camaraderie with each other. 

Who are your biggest inspirations?

  • Jacinda Ardern, leading the nation with both strength and kindness, being fiercely loyal to her values even with the current state of the political world, knowing where her boundaries are, and being brave enough to admit when she needs to step down.
  • Ms Mizah Rahman, one of the co-founders of Participate in Design. She was my teacher from polytechnic and I always looked up to her for her conviction in Building a more inclusive Singapore where every voice has a space to be heard, not just the experts. 
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer and her love for the natural environment. Sitting with them and understanding each life for what they are. Recognizing them as fellow beings and being able to communicate eloquently that perfectly illustrates the beauty of nature. Admire her ethos and the way she is able to make nature and human rights sound obvious as if it should have been there the whole time. 
  • Uncle Iroh from Aang the Last Airbender. Even though he was not the main protagonist of the series, he was always quietly supporting his nephew in unconditional love, even when he betrayed him. He knew where his values were and wasn’t afraid to stick by them, not in a way that’s necessarily overt, but in a way that’s gentle and kind.

What’s your mantra for life?

I don’t know if this will change anything, but I know it’s the right thing to do.

Learn more about Dorcas Tang Wen Yu or connect with her on Instagram.

This is a part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet, and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Art as Activism: Unveiling the Creative Journey of Rick Frausto

Art as Activism: Unveiling the Creative Journey of Rick Frausto

In a world where creativity meets climate consciousness, we are thrilled to present an exclusive interview with the exceptional artist and activist, Rick Frausto. With his captivating pen and ink drawings, Frausto has woven a tapestry of visual storytelling that transcends boundaries and inspires change. Join us as we delve into his artistic journey, exploring the profound impact of his work and the unwavering resilience it ignites within us all. From the majestic beauty of nature to the urgent call for climate action, Frausto’s art serves as a powerful reminder that sustainable living and creative expression can intertwine to shape a brighter future. Get ready to be captivated by his unique perspective, as we uncover the journey of the incredible artivist, Rick Frausto.

Rick, please tell us your backstory. How and why did you become an artist?

I began creating art as soon as I could get my hands on paints, mud, and anything that helped me express myself. The creative life is the only life I’ve ever known. For me, being an artist has been a calling rather than a career choice. As a young man, I began a formal practice starting with ceramics. From there it evolved into found object sculpture which was my focus for over two decades. In 2017 I embarked on a journey of full-time travel. That’s when I transitioned into pen and ink drawings.

Can you please tell us what inspires you to create your artwork?

Nature is my biggest inspiration. The word ART lies at the heart of our planet’s name – Earth. Trees have always been one of my favorite subjects. I’m also very inspired by the resilience of the human spirit and greatly admire those who possess the courage to stand up for what they believe in. Pop culture is a big influence too.

You have a very unique style of creating your artwork with pen and ink. Why did you choose this medium?

For over seven years, I was the Art Director for a company in Hollywood that required a daily commute. I decided to sell my car and use public transportation instead. Spending many hours each day on the train gave me a lot of time and the inspiration to start drawing again…something I’d done prior to getting into sculpture but had put on the back-burner. During that time, I did observational drawings daily. Initially, that’s how it started. The catalyzing moment, however, was when I was traveling with my uncle on a train from St. Louis to Chicago. I had my sketchbook with me as I always did. We were having a great conversation that led to this quote he remembered:

“There was an old owl, who lived in an oak.

The more he saw the less he spoke.

The less he spoke the more he heard.

Why can’t we all be like that bird?”

That quote was the first one I based a drawing around. It came about very spontaneously. When I was done, someone from across the aisle said, “I really like that drawing, keep it up!” That person was none other than Joan Haring, the mother of the legendary artist, Kieth Haring. How’s that for encouragement?!

I didn’t fully realize the power of using quotes in my drawings until September 2016, when I learned of the Native American protests at the Standing Rock reservation. I was moved to create something in response to the Water Protector’s heroic fight. That’s when I created the Native American Proverb drawing. I posted it on Instagram and went about my day. A few weeks later I started receiving messages from friends who reported they’d been seeing that drawing everywhere on social media. After some digging, I found that several celebrities had reposted it (without credit) which ultimately led to it going viral and becoming one of the iconic images of the No DAPL movement. It made me aware of the power of pairing a quote with an image, which led to the drawings that I’m best known for these days.

As an artivist, do you think different forms of art can play a significant role to motivate people to take action in their daily lives, especially now, when the climate crisis is getting intensified with every passing day?

Absolutely! I’ve seen and felt it deeply first-hand. I’ve had folks reach out to tell me how much my work has helped them see or understand a heavy subject in such a way that made them feel empowered rather than being in despair. The greatest gift I can give through my work at this moment is hope.

How do you think artists can collaborate to make the climate movement stronger and more fruitful?

My approach is to work with people and organizations that are aligned with my values when it comes to climate conservation. It feels good to be collaborating with those who are making a real impact. It’s all about action in the right direction.

What’s your take on climate optimism as an artist/artivist?

I do think we already know how to prevent things from getting worse and these are the very things that need support in order to change things for real.

Going back to the land, earth stewardship programs, listening to our native elders. Nature heals our mind, body, and soul. We have to protect it in order to protect ourselves and future generations.

Do you have a favorite piece of art of yours? Tell us about that.

My artworks are like my children, so it’s hard to say which one is my favorite.

All I can say is the one I’m currently working on is always my favorite at that moment. Each piece is a stepping stone to the next, so they really are all connected.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

I’m inspired by so many. Those who show true inner strength and courage in the face of unthinkable odds light my fire. Those who shine bright and lift up people make my heart sing. Those who show up and help those in need with no hesitation give me so much hope. Those who possess sacred knowledge and have the power to heal make me want to learn more. So many people inspire me.

How do you define success?

To me, success is staying true to yourself and following your own path.

If you stick with it long enough you will meet the people you are meant to cross paths with and find out the things you need to know to make you happy.

What’s your mantra for life?

Health is wealth.

Learn more about Rick Frausto or connect with him on Instagram.

This is a part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet, and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

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