This Earth Month, popular doll brand American Girl is celebrating vegan teen activist Genesis Butler as part of its Conversations for Change series launched in honor of the brand’s 35th anniversary. The latest episode in the series, “Use Your Outside Voice: Climate Change,” honors Butler alongside youth environmental activists Iris Zhan (the 17-year-old co-founder of Fridays for Future Digital, an organization committed to increasing the impact of the climate movement through digital actions and campaigns); and Haven Coleman (the 14-year-old co-founder of US Youth Climate Strike and Arid Agency).
Vegan since age six, 14-year-old Butler is the founder of Genesis for Animals (a nonprofit that helps to fund animal sanctuaries across the country) and Youth Climate Save (a climate organization that focuses on the connection between animal agriculture and the climate crisis). Butler was chosen for the series after an editor for American Girl watched Genesis ask the Pope to go vegan during Lent as part of a campaign with Million Dollar Vegan, a global organization educating people about the individual and environmental benefits of a vegan diet.
“We were thrilled to work with Genesis, Haven Coleman, and Iris Zhan […] for the Conversations for Change episode on climate change,” Susan Jevens, Associate PR Manager at American Girl, told VegNews. “Each girl is unique in how they’re raising their voice and finding solutions for the climate crisis, and we felt their inspiring personal journeys towards activism would resonate with girls.”
Fighting climate change with American Girl
In addition to being a part of the brand’s Conversations for Change series, Butler is also featured in two of its books: Love the Earth, a resource guide outlining how girls can channel their interests to help fight climate change, and Kira’s Animal Rescue, a work of fiction inspired by the devastating Australian bushfires of 2019.
“Partnering with American Girl to spread my message about the connections between climate change and animal agriculture really made me hopeful because American Girl has such a huge audience,” Butler told VegNews. “So many people who weren’t aware of this issue will now know after seeing my feature on American Girl’s website. It also makes me hopeful because this shows companies like American Girl are helping to raise awareness on all causes of climate change, not just fossil fuels, which there is so much focus on.”
From vegan activist to Marvel hero
Early last year, Butler became a Marvel superhero in an episode of the Disney+ series Marvel Hero Project where she was featured alongside young, real-life heroes committed to making a difference within their communities.
The longtime vegan and climate activist hopes her work with American Girl and Marvel will inspire other young girls to advocate for animals. “It’s so important for young girls to get involved in climate and animal activism because it is so empowering,” Butler said. “I started speaking up for animals when I was six, and once I saw that I had a voice and people would listen, it motivated me to keep speaking up for animals. It led me to climate activism, and this has also been a powerful experience for me. It makes me happy knowing I am doing what I can to help the planet.”