A Tribute to Conservation

Roger Moenks is a New York-based fashion photographer who’s also an environmentalist. His recently published coffee-table book, I Am Eco Warrior, is a testament to his concern for what’s happening to our planet home and a thank-you to the many “warriors” out there fighting for it.

In his introduction, Moenks quotes a line from Kurt Vonnegut’s Man Without a Country, a line he sees on car bumper stickers: “The good Earth—we could have saved it, but we were too damned cheap and lazy.”


Roger Moenks: Fashion Photographer, Environmentalist

I had the privilege of meeting Moenks and five of the “warriors” at the Lenox Square Ralph Lauren store at the launch party in early December. I found it interesting that many of the 50 or so people in his book became environmentally aware when they were children, including Ted Turner.

Turner, head of the Turner Foundation, who was at the launch with his daughter, Laura Turner Seydel (also in the book), says he was about seven or eight. He and his father were driving into town past a field and forest that were being cut down. When he asked what was going on, his father said it was to make way for a subdivision and a shopping center and that it was a good thing. Ted’s reply was “What about the birds and animals that live there?”

His daughter, chairperson of Zero Waste Zone and the Captain Planet Foundation (both created by Ted Turner), says that her dad “always led by example and instilled a work and a conservation ethic in us” when she and her siblings were growing up. “Now when we’re out on a walk with him and he’s picking up trash, as he invariably is, my kids are right behind doing the same thing.”

I Am Eco Warrior Front Cover

Other “warriors” at the book launch were Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund, Costas Christ, editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler and a pioneer in eco-tourism, and oceanographer Sylvia Earle, who is explorer-in-residence for National Geographic and author of several children’s books about the ocean. Earle, by the way, says she’s been in love with the ocean since she was a little girl.

Personally, I don’t remember a particular environmental epiphany. I’ve always loved the beauty of the outdoors—ocean, mountains, desert, rivers, and especially the night sky. One of my favorite memories is lying down in a canoe, while on a camping trip in Canada, and drinking in the marvels of the Milky Way, constellations, and endless stars. I bought my house mainly because of the small forest of trees behind it.

I Am Eco Warrior is a beautiful book with thoughtful and enlightening interviews with environmental pioneers about how and why they became interested in the environment, what they’ve done, where we’re heading and what we can do about it. With Moenk’s fashion background, he has included a few fashion leaders, including Anna Zegna, Ferrucia and Salvatore Ferragama, and Stella McCarthy. You’ll find plenty of familiar names: Michael Bloomberg, Phillipe Cousteau, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Francis Ford Coppola, Darryl Hannah, Carole King, Richard Branson, and Jane Goodall.

This self-published book, which costs $85,  will make you think twice about driving a gas guzzling car, throwing out trash when you could be recycling, using plastic bags instead of reusable shopping bags. But it’s also a good read.

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