Over three years ago I began this amazing journey, traveling to over 25 countries to document the amazing work individuals are doing to protect the environment and save the planet, to highlight the role each of us can play in creating a better, more sustainable planet, and to build common ground between environmental activists, big corporations, and everything in between.
The I am Eco-Warrior book is more than just a book; it’s the continuation of a dialogue and a movement that began in Atlanta on December 6, 2012, when we previewed the book and project with a special evening hosted by Ted Turner, who graces the cover of this book, Laura Turner, Sylvia Earle, Costas Christ and Carter Roberts. I’ve had the honor to meet Ted on several occasions, and when he saw the book for the first time, he nudged me on the shoulder and asked, “Why did you put me on the cover?”
When I was a young child, my grandmother loved to watch Westerns and in those movies the cowboy comes to save the day at the last moment. When I photographed Ted in Montana on horseback, it just became very clear he should be on the cover – he has been working on environmental concerns for more than 40 years, and he is the cowboy trying to save us. In fact, everyone in the book is a cowboy – eco-warriors trying to save us. We can find great inspiration through the eco-warriors. We need to take courage from them, support them, and join them.
I like to quote a remark Kurt Vonnegut made in Man Without a Country (2005): “The good Earth- we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.”
We all need to take responsibility and stop blaming others, including corporations, for not doing enough, when there is much we can do in our personal lives. Saving the good earth starts with our actions; if we can all just be better global citizens and more aware of how we are affecting our surroundings, then we can influence others and progress as a society.
Environmentalists and big corporations both have roles to play and need to work together on common-ground discussions, and governments need to respect these pioneers and get involved. On December 10, 2012, Jeffrey Sachs gave a speech in London for a launch of the book. He said governments need to get involved now. It is astonishing, and somewhat ridiculous, that governments have put environmental concerns on their agenda for 2020, he added, because there will be new leaders by then. The time to act is now.
At the beginning of the project I met Jim Clark, founder of Netscape and producer of the movie The Cove. He told me, “You have to have a business making money doing the right thing!” This statement led me to look at the environmental movement in an eco-economical way. There is an eco-economy emerging, and I believe eventually countries will have an index to measure whether they are healthy economies to do business with.
Coca-Cola is one of the largest companies in the world, and Muhtar Kent (featured in the book) has taken the top position at a 126-year-old company that he is strategically making more environmentally friendly. CEOs around the world can follow his example and take the lead to make a difference. Muhtar himself inherited his father’s passion to grow olives in Turkey and produce first-class olive oil, and I believe the two are related: If you understand the earth and how it can satisfy our taste, you will have an affinity for the environment.
I have been doing fashion and celebrity photography for over 14 years and I find myself attracted to challenging projects. People look at projects about the environment as being too granola or too snobbish! I really wanted to stylize the movement and make it fun and cool, to think not only about my role in the environment but about all the various species living on the planet. I Am Eco is definitely cool! Anyone in this world can lend their craft to do right by out planet.
I have been very lucky in my life and realize I am living in a sweet spot. I was born in Germany and was lucky to have been born after the European wars. I am lucky to have traveled the world and be in some amazingly beautiful places. We have to make sure we help our world preserve its beauty and help us preserve accessibility to it all for all our future generations.
This project has always been about engaging groups of amazing people who rarely, if ever, get to collaborate. Often, too many people are isolated in small circles, never diversifying to meet new groups of people. The I Am Eco movement is about changing the old ways of thinking to engage a new breed of individuals to make the changes our planet needs. The project’s goal is to help curate the Eco-Warriors and facilitate their organization. It will be the collective force of these individuals that saves the planet.
The book I Am Eco-Warrior is available on www.iamecowarrior.com, Amazon, and at selected Ralph Lauren stores worldwide.
Roger Moenks is a celebrity and fashion photographer who has called New York City home for almost 20 years. Best known for his portraiture, he has previously published three books: The First Class of CLICK; Moving Still; and Inheriting Beauty, featuring 90 women from around the world at the forefront of society and industry—a group that includes such high-profile figures as Roberta Armani, Delphine Arnault, Kiera Chaplin, Francesca Versace, and many more. In cooperation with Montblanc and UNICEF, Moenks also created images of 12 leading actresses for a Sotheby’s auction, the proceeds of which raised a quarter of a million dollars for the charity. Moenks’ work has appeared in such magazines as L’Officiel, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Interview, Visionaire, and Flaunt. He has directed music videos for Blank & Jones, commercials for Van Cleef & Arpels and Moët & Chandon, and created the documentary Shooting Milk, featuring survivors of the Andy Warhol era and including never-before-seen footage of the artist himself. In the past several years Moenks has dedicated much of his time to socially conscious causes. He produced all the images in IAEW book and conceived of the project.