By Cait Rohan | May 18, 2016 | People
In a follow-up to our post about her eco-friendly bags with Freedom of Animals, Nikki Reed gets real on what she did for Earth Day, why supporting animals that aren’t just “fuzzy and cute” is important, and how making the planet a better place is much easier than we think.
Nikki Reed and her husband, Ian Somerhalder, attend The Humane Society of the United States' to the Rescue Gala at Paramount Studios last week.
NIKKI REED: Nat Geo and Joel Bach have a television series called Years of Living Dangerously and my husband and I are doing two episodes—they’re separate episodes although we’re kind of involved in each other’s episodes. We went for seven days, in the middle of the ocean—it’s never been done before—with 52 people, these scientists, that were actually going in and coring these blue holes. So they were taking sediment from these blue holes in the ocean floor and studying micro-layers, what the weather patterns are, so that we can prove and predict and show to the world that these huge hurricanes are coming and it’s all because of the rising temperatures of the ocean water.
There is one thing that you absolutely can prove and that is that we are two seconds away from witnessing some of worst hurricanes and storms the world has ever seen and it’s due to the rising temperatures of the ocean, so we need to find a solution now and this imagery is going to help do that.
I think that one thing that people feel is embarrassed to make a transition or a change because we’re all so full of pride. We’re all so afraid to admit that maybe we learned something new or maybe at one point in our lives we were doing things in a way we’re not so proud of.
Why are we so afraid to admit that there’s always room for growth? It’s okay if you drove a really crappy car not so long ago. It’s okay that you didn’t recycle for the last 20 years of your life. Now is the time to just try something new and it’s okay to change your philosophy and do something better for the world starting now.
Look at the course of history. Look at where we’ve come in the last hundred years without getting too deep. Think about how we were treating human beings. Think about what we were doing to animals not too long ago. We’re going to look back 50 years from now and think, “How the f--k did we have elephants in the circus like that? How the f--k were we passing around chimpanzees and thinking that that was totally okay and normal?” And that’s part of growth is our ability as human beings to go through life and look back and go, “You know, we’re not going to do this anymore. We’re not going to keep these giant, beautiful creatures in Sea World.” That’s a part of it.
NR: I work with a number incredible rescues. There’s a place called Furkids that I’ve been working with, they help me find animals in the shelters that I know don’t have an immediate chance of being rescued. I work with Bark ’n Bitches in Los Angeles and I’ve been working with them for nearly seven years now.
Also, The Humane Society of the United States—Michelle Cho, her and I worked very closely on a number of big campaigns in the last couple of years. In the past couple of years we’ve gone around the country talking about breed-specific legislation. I testified at the State Capitol for the Go Freedom Project, which is giving animals that have been tested on the right to be adopted out afterwards because a lot of them were just being put down.
[I also work with] Frosted Faces Foundation. This has been something that my mom and I for many years have been very focused on—all of the senior dogs that are dumped at the shelters. Obviously, some of them have been dumped because people don’t like old animals, but some of them have been dumped because their owners pass away and no one knows what to do with them and they live out the last six months or year of their lives on a shelter floor and they die of disease. I just can’t imagine living a long 16-year life, which is in human years a 90-year old life, and being left on a cold cement floor. Frosted Faces is an organization that rescues these dogs. Then, if you’ll adopt them for the last couple months of their lives—maybe it’s a month, maybe it’s a year and a half—but if you adopt them, they pay all of the expenses, which is kind of cool.
When it comes to animals that are not fuzzy and cute—bees and bats and sharks and rhinos—these are animals that we tend to feel sort of disconnected from. Bees are vanishing because of mono-cultures. It’s having these giant fields of crops, these mono-cultures where there’s only one crop and all of these pesticides are being sprayed and these bees are consuming them. If we don’t have bees, think about the lack of pollination, think about what’s going to happen to the planet if we don’t have bees. And they’re actually dropping so drastically that no one knows what to do.
There’s also a huge problem with bats. What do you think happens when the bats die and there are no more bats? Think about what bats eat and how that affects everything. Think about how sharks have survived five massive extinctions and in our lifetime we have nearly wiped them out because of shark-fin soup. What happens when the sharks go? What happens to the oceans? What happens to every single part of the food chain in the ocean when we don’t have sharks?
Rhinos are particularly close to my heart. I work very closely with Adrian Stern, who is one of the most incredible wildlife photographers around right now, and he and I have been putting together a treatment and gathering footage for a documentary that I know will change the way people view cruelty.
A lot of the work I did in animal rescue has been really simple and basic. My mom and I for the past ten years have just been fostering and rescuing animals, locally. Dogs, cats, we’ve had a few other things like litters of bunnies, a raccoon at one point. All local animals… Birds that have broken wings.
[Then] I visited Africa and I had no idea what we were doing to elephants. Yeah, of course, that’s sort of normal to say, I was a 21-year-old girl and I was discovering first-hand, witnessing, speaking to locals in Botswana and hearing these stories and going, “Wait, what do you mean we’re just killing elephants? Ivory? That’s all that stuff that’s on bracelets?” And if you look at what we’ve done in just 20, 30 years to the African elephants? And to think when I have kids, they won’t know what elephants are, is mind-blowing. The elephants might be what the dinosaurs are. They may be looking at them in books and that’s it.
I wake up in the morning and I think about some of the things I’m telling you now and it is so overwhelming. You can feel so helpless, and so I think you just start with doing whatever you can. I’ve seen people do some incredible things just by sharing imagery. If you have a Facebook, don’t be afraid to repost some really horrific images so that people see them and we don’t shy away from them. If you have two seconds, go online and sign a petition. If you have the time to read an article and absorb some sort of information, maybe take that minute. It’s the tiny things that will turn into huge things if we can do little bits here and there. That’s what I believe. So that we stop the idea of separation and we start the idea of togetherness and we’re all in this together.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANGELA WEISS/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES (REED, SOMERHALDER)