Singer Leona Lewis has recalled how her parents were “annoyed” by her constantly turning off lights as a child because she was “trying to help the planet”.
Now based in Los Angeles, the former X-Factor winner grew up in Islington, and told the PA news agency her dedication to the environment came at a young age.
“I’ve always had that awareness and that consciousness – and honestly, it was from school,” she said.
“I remember we had someone come in and talk to us about the environment, and my takeaway from that as a kid was I used to come home and switch off all the lights. I remember my parents getting really annoyed, because I would walk around and switch the lights off, being like, ‘I’m trying to help the planet’.
“It’s so funny, because that really stuck with me as a child – so I know how important it is to get the message to children.”
Lewis, 38, has also been a vegetarian since she was 12, and vegan for the last six or seven years – and that also stemmed from a pivotal childhood moment.
“I used to go down Oxford Circus [London] when I was like 10, 11, and I used to see protesting about animal testing – I think they still do it now. But I remember that sparked something in me, like why are they testing on animals? What is this?”
Lewis said her parents made “a real effort to make me feel comfortable as a vegetarian”, and that’s something she hopes to pass down to her daughter, Carmel Allegra, who is nearly nine months old and she calls ‘Coco’.
“For me as a mum now, obviously I am conscious and aware and trying to do my part as best I can,” Lewis explained.
“As parents now, everything is amplified and we think to ourselves, OK, what are we passing down to Coco? When she’s older, is she going to look at us and be like, what did you guys do? What has happened? It definitely makes you more aware, for sure.”
For Lewis and her husband, German-born creative director Dennis Jauch, the most important thing they can do for their daughter is lead by example.
“What I tend to do is focus on what we can do. My husband and I actually opened a coffee shop with sustainability at its heart [Coffee + Plants in LA] – so for every few cups that we sell, we plant a tree – we’re partnered with the National Forest Association. And all of our stuff is recyclable.”
For Lewis, this helps keep eco-anxiety at bay. “I feel like concentrating on what we can do in our day-to-day is going to take that anxiety away,” she said.
Another project Lewis has been working on is voicing a short animation for the Ecoflix Foundation UK, which is an adaptation of the children’s book It’s Up To Us: A Children’s Terra Carta For Nature, People And Planet, originally written by Christopher Lloyd.
Available on the Ecoflix channel, the animation explores the relationship between people, nature and the planet, and features a foreward from King Charles.
“Children have a unique curiosity for nature and this planet we call home,” Charles says in the video.
“Leading by our lifestyle and what we’re doing, [Carmel is] going to naturally pick up on that,” Lewis added.
Lewis is looking forward to Carmel teaching her new things – just like she did to her parents growing up.
“I feel like I showed my parents more [about the environment]. In all honesty, I feel like their generation didn’t really have that kind of education, it wasn’t a big deal,” she said.
“I feel like I would come home and say stuff and my parents were like, ‘Oh, OK’. You’re teaching us something. So I hope Coco will come home and teach me something in the future. That’s what we need to do.
“I was lucky enough that my parents listened to me and supported me when I was like, I want to be a vegetarian. I want to turn off all the lights in the house. They were supportive of that. So hopefully Coco comes home and I can be supportive of what she has to teach me.”
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