Ten Ways Our ChangeLeaders® are Protecting Our Earth

GUARDIAN portrait PHOTO

Although Earth Month is coming to a close, our efforts for climate action and improved sustainability continue on.

Are you looking to get involved, but don’t know where to start? Many of our young ChangeLeaders®, share your vision for a greener future. Here are 10 ways they are advocating for mother earth, working to reduce the impact of climate change and creating a better planet for all of us.

1. Replanting Mangroves 

Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne, Sri Lanka
Following the 2004 tsunami, Anoka founded her own eco-social enterprise, Growin’ Money, to ensure the availability of environmental protection and alternative income opportunities for vulnerable and underprivileged communities. As a first responder, she saw the devastation that occurred without the Mangroves–shrubs and small trees that grow along coasts–a sensitive ecosystem which serves as a natural defence and is home to many endangered flora and fauna. Together with over 20,000 volunteers, Anoka has replanted over 40,000 Mangroves and Growin’ Money’s eco-tourism initiative has supported 5,000 villagers in five countries.

2. Disaster Relief 

Eric Li, United States
Eric founded his own non-profit, We Care Act, after his family’s efforts to raise donations for the 2008 earthquake in China. We Care Act focuses on disaster relief projects, service learning opportunities, education and electronics recycling: They’ve delivered refurbished computers to students in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Nepal, and South Sudan; and have worked with the victims of 14 natural disasters. We Care Act has brought together over 35,000 people from around the world, collected 38,000 items and raised over $260,000 in funds and in-kind donations.

After disaster in Japan, We Care Act put out a call for handwritten letters to send to the students affected: They received +5,000, along with 1,600 paper cranes from all over the world.

3. Elephant Conservation

Josh Kauderer, United States
While travelling in Kenya, Josh was surprised to find out that elephants were being poached due to the ever-increasing demand for ivory. Wanting to do something, Josh and his brother founded Elephant Highway, building awareness speaking at schools and community events, and raising funds by selling t-shirts and crafts made by African artists on their website and at street fairs. They hope that by promoting the work of these artists, they can give the villagers an economic incentive to not engage in poaching and advocate for wildlife conservation.

It takes time and a lot of effort to make a difference. Having a positive mindset will make your goals more attainable. -Josh Kauderer #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen

4. Environmental Awareness Workshop

Kehkashan Basu, India
From a young age when she used her birthday money to plant a tree, Kehkashan passion for the environment has led her to speak at over 45 international and United Nations summits, and serve on various UN councils and committees. She also has founded Green Hope, which seeks to provide a networking platform for youth to engage in sustainable development. By organizing environmental workshops and ground-level projects on mitigating climate change, stopping land degradation, biodiversity conservation and waste reduction, Green Hope has engaged over 1,000 youth members around the world.

5. Wildlife Protection

Luca Berardi, Tanzania
When Luca lived in Kenya, he used his passion for animals to start Young Animal Rescue Heroes (YARH), which works to help youth build awareness for environmental and wildlife conservation, and connect with nature. YAHR’s key project involves offering school workshops, where Luca speaks to and works with youth from poor areas of Nairobi to showcase their creative arts talents while also demonstrating their passion for conservation.

6. Reducing Food Waste

Maya Terro, Lebanon

Being perplexed by the paradox of so many people going hungry when there’s so much food being wasted, Maya decided to become a food activist. She co-founded FoodBlessed, a community-based, self-funded non-profit organization that fights food poverty in Lebanon by providing free, daily wholesome meals for the homeless and low-income, all while tackling and spreading awareness about food waste. By diverting food destined for waste, FoodBlessed saves hundreds of tons of food while feeding many people in need, making it a win-win model.

Success boils down to this: Doing what you love, with what you have, while inspiring others with what you do! -Maya Terro #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen

7. GMO Advocacy

Rachel Parent, Canada
When Rachel learned that some chemical companies rebranded as “agribusinesses” and developed genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—making the seeds resistant to chemicals—she wanted to inform others how this “modern agriculture” was contaminating food, water, the soil and people’s health. Founding Kids Right To Know, Rachel began organizing marches, meeting with government officials and top scientists, appearing on TV and speaking in schools about GMO labelling and food safety. Rachel’s goal is to enforce mandatory GMO labelling so Canadians have the freedom to choose what they eat.

8. Oil Spill Research

Nivatha Balendra, Canada
After the Lac-Mégantic oil spill in 2013, Nivatha felt inspired to find a sustainable solution so the environment would be less affected in the recovery process. Nivatha’s goal was to find oil-degrading bacteria with the ability to produce biosurfactants—naturally occurring lipids capable of dispersing oil just like soap, except they’re entirely natural and biodegradable. Following many months of lab research, she was surprised to find biosurfactant-producing bacteria among her samples, which has granted her unique opportunities to learn from mentors and meet inspiring people around the world.

Always be relentless in pursuing your dreams, regardless of the obstacles that may bring you down along the way. –Nivatha Balendra #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen

9. Sustainability Campaigns 

Simran Vedvyas, India
As the founder of SynergY youth group, which works to promote sustainability, Simran puts her childhood passions for the recycling and helping others into action, engaging students across the UAE and India on the environment, education and health care. To date, Simran has led over 75 successful youth engagement campaigns, including Green Space New Life, which saw 3,000 trees planted at landfill sites across the UAE.

Our world is literally at the edge of a cliff, ready to roll down by the adverse effects of human greed. We have 2 choices: Either we let it roll down or we make a collective effort to pull it back and make it peaceful. -Simran Vedvyas #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen​

10. Green Energy

Zainab Bibi, Pakistan
After realizing the energy and environmental problems, Zainab created the Pakistan Society for Green Energy to facilitate research on green energy and create awareness about environmental issues. Spanning across green energy, nanotechnology, biochemistry and molecular biology, Zainab’s research projects include producing bio-ethanol from waste tissue papers to reduce the dependence on petroleum and the its disposal in landfills, and producing bio-diesel from Camelina Sativa—an American plant species that grows quickly and in marginal soils, and has a greater resistance to drought and low temperatures—to help combat extreme poverty.

Women in science are still marginalized and face many cultural and social challenges. Try to use your experiences to be a role model for other women and girls who have ambitions in science and technology. -Zainab Bibi #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen​

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More