[Teens] have never known a day without climate emergency. Eco-anxiety is [their] constant. And [they] know, like you know water is wet, that the worst trap is  defeatist  thinking,  cynicism, or  complacency.  A loud  chorus says we’re running out of time. . . . It’s probably too late already. . . . I’m only one person . . . and what difference can one person make? Girls Who Green the World is about fighters who have no patience for any of that doubt. It’s a magic doorway into an alternate universe of possibility, buzzing and whirring with mad scientists and doers, every single one racing impatiently to head off planetary disaster. In these pages are thirty-four intrepid changemakers who choose possibility. They refuse to be cowed by a ticking clock. I could have included 234 more women.  That’s because there’s a  revolution  happening,  and there are hundreds and thousands of revolutionaries to admire. They are turning exhaled breath into chicken, mushrooms into leather, and plastic bottles into boardshorts that turn into carseat stuffing. They are hell- bent on reviving our oceans, heating homes with carbon- neutral geothermal energy, and dying jeans with bioengineered indigo that doesn’t turn rivers in China black. This new guard is breaking from the environmental movement’s problematic roots. They are facing down the grave injustices to Native people and lands, reckoning with the outsized burdens of pollution and chemical exposure thrust on marginalized communities, insisting on environmental justice. They recognize clean air and water as human rights. Some of the advances are half measures, a change in mindset on the way toward becoming a change in paradigm. Biodegradable glitter. Ugly pickles, made from  misshapen  cukes  that  would  otherwise  be  tossed.  These initiatives matter as much as the biggies. Sure, chips made of the pulp from juicing machines won’t instantly lower the methane meter, but when their creator, Kaitlin Mogentale, expands Pulp Pantry into an empire, upcycling billions  of  pounds  of  byproduct  into  cereal,  pie  crusts,  pasta,  tortillas, flour . . . that is how we change the entire industrial food complex. These  trailblazers  make  cool  heroes—  they  are  highly  trained  chemical engineers and theoretical high-energy physicists, contrarian biologists and  agriculture  scientists,  deft  marketers  and  business  mavericks.  They are  selling  the  world  on  solar,  planting  carbon-sequestering  (and  tasty)  sea vegetables, and cleaning toxins out of water, backyards, and cosmetics. One blocked the Dakota Access Pipeline with the weight of her body. They are  making  waves  as  agitators,  policy  wonks,  culture  shifters,  and  inventors. Oh, and they are all women.Despite their brilliance and cunning, recognition for these women is still too rare. They receive too little funding and not enough ink. Most of  the  women  you’ll  read  about  here  are  young.  Young  people  have  always  driven  social  change.  Ruby  Bridges  was  just  six  when  she  walked her bobbysocked feet up the steps of William Frantz Elementary School, where all the students were white, and she became the first Black student  there.  Emma  González  was  a  high  schooler  when  she  woke  the  world up to gun madness. The Vietnam War was brought down by young people. And Greta Thunberg. Greta! In 2018 she was a lone schoolgirl sitting outside Sweden’s Parliament, demanding attention. The next year she had 1.6 million schoolkids in thirty countries taking climate change ultimatums to the streets. Rhiana Gunn-Wright, age thirty-three, was inspired by these young activists. It’s girls like Ruby and Greta that Rhiana was thinking about when she put pen to paper and sketched the tenets of the Green New Deal. The plan creates new jobs, new industries even, curbs airline and car pollution. It insists on equity, and turns upside down practically everything we know about  industry  and  government.  Some  have  called  it  impossible.  Others  have ridiculed it.Not the girls inheriting this planet. On  the  morning  after  the  2021  inauguration,  a  dozen  youth  activists,  all  but  one  of  them  girls,  posted  an  open  letter  to  President  Biden  and Vice President Harris. Biden’s stated goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is simply too late. “Be braver,” they wrote. “People are burning, drowning, and dying. Enough,” the young environmentalists implored.Biden heard. He revised his targets, lopping off fifteen years to achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2035.You have power. Presidents are listening to you. Just cracking open this book,  you  have  set  off  a  cultural  chain  reaction  that  cannot  stop.  These  thirty-four  trailblazers,  they  are  links  in  that  chain,  too.  Susan  Solomon  and her ozone discovery, she was a link in that chain, too, as women have always been and will continue to be on the frontlines of this movement. Instead of being fueled by a universal CFC ban, this transformation is fueled by  insistence  and  persistence.  By  a  sense  of  possibility.  By  hope.  Theirs  and yours.

Excerpted from Girls Who Green the World: 34 Rebel Women Out to Save the Planet, by Diana Kapp. April 5, 2022.


  • Diana Kapp

    Journalist, Writer and author of Girls Who Run the World

    My work has taken me inside San Quentin prison, and to deepest Afghanistan. My path to writing has been circuitous. I’ve worked for a senator and a biotech start-up, made ads for Nike, and helped launch women’s sportswear retailer Lucy.com. I went to Stanford and got an MBA. I’ve lived in Kenya, and the Haight. I love the Sawtooth Mountains, Neil Young, my 5am running club, and climbing mountains. I wish I could play guitar and sing, but I have no talent. I’m a wannabe “rancher.” Check out www.idahorocky.com My work has appeared in the New York TimesWall Street JournalSan Francisco Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle ELLEMarie ClaireMORE MagazineO the Oprah MagazineCalifornia Sunday Magazine, Sunset, ESPN. My first book Girls Who Run the World is due out in October with Random House Delacorte.