Guest Editor: Maya Penn
CEO, Maya's Ideas and Upenndo! Productions
Maya is a 22-year-old environmental and climate justice activist, animator, eco-designer, author, philanthropist, and award winning CEO of eco-fashion brand Maya’s Ideas, and climate storytelling studio Upenndo! Productions. In 2008 Maya started her eco-design company, and in 2011 she founded nonprofit organisation, Maya’s Ideas 4 The Planet, and started ongoing environmental and humanitarian projects to give back to youth and women in the US, Haiti, Senegal, Somalia, and more.
Here, Maya selects five RE:TV films which reflect her work and mission within climate justice, circularity, the fashion industry and beyond to address the climate crisis. She is the second of our guest editors; inspiring women drawn from across the world of climate solutions, science, art and activism who have curated essential-viewing playlists in the lead up to COP28.
These films are stories of hope, optimism, and positive transformation – showcasing signs of change and hope that others can learn from and scale.
As founder and CEO of Maya’s Ideas, I am an environmentalist first. From using old, vintage fabrics or organic bio-based materials like cotton within my work, I am continually inspired by the shift and innovation we are seeing in the fashion and textile space, as shown in this film with Ananas Anam whose natural textiles use the fibres from the discarded leaves of pineapple farms!
I’m currently working on an animated action-adventure short called Asali: Power of Pollinators which aims to highlight the essential work of pollinators and scientists, through unique and exciting storytelling. I chose this film, which highlights the Xingu Seed Collectors, to showcase the amazing work happening right now to preserve biodiversity and protect native plant species (as well as the pollinators and people who benefit from them!)
Through Maya’s Ideas, we have been supporting food banks and food pantries for vulnerable communities and families dealing with food insecurity. This film really spoke to me about the power of community with Umgibe Farming Organics’ providing training and support to hundreds of families in South Africa, who are able to feed themselves and sell their surplus produce.
Tech innovation is shaking up supply chains, with companies like Circularise developing software solutions to provide end-to-end traceability. Based on open blockchain technology, they are able to verify raw materials through their production processes and then back into the circular economy where they can be recycled and reused.
I love to use biomimicry and bioinspired design in my work! It’s a concept defined by the brilliant Janine Benyus, an innovative biologist whose work has greatly popularised the concept around how nature can inform our design thinking – something which encompasses so much of my work and is a vital concept in how we look to address the climate and biodiversity crises.