We often talk about the importance of saving the planet for the next generation—but the good news is, some of the next generation are already finding solutions to help make it happen. Here are some of the inspiring kids across the globe who are raising their hands, lending their voices, and changing our earth for the better.
Follow: @genesisbutler_ on Instagram
Her cause: Environmental and animal rights
At only 10 years old, Genesis Butler became one of the youngest people to ever give a TEDx talk, in which she explains how the connection between the environment and animal consumption convinced her to become vegan. Now 14, Genesis is an environmental and animal rights activist whose passionate advocacy for animals has earned her numerous awards and recognitions honoring her work. She’s also the founder of two impressive initiatives: Genesis for Animals, a nonprofit organization which raises funds for sanctuaries around the world, and Youth Climate Save, the first youth climate organization to focus on the link between climate change and animal agriculture.
Follow: @sarah.goody4 on Instagram
Her cause: Climate change and climate justice
In 2019, 16-year-old climate activist Sarah Goody founded the youth-led organization Climate NOW as a way to bring the youth climate movement to her local community in Corte Madera, California. Today, Climate NOW has gone international, helping educate and empower over 10,000 young people from across the world to take climate action. But Sarah’s still creating change locally: As the Chair of the Corte Madera Climate Action Committee, she’s made history as the youngest person to Chair a committee in her town. An accomplished speaker and published writer with work in places like Teen Vogue and The San Francisco Chronicle, Sarah was the recipient of the 2020 Princess Diana Award, the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts.
Follow: @ecokidsgreenclub on Instagram
Her cause: Environmentalism and gender equality
Nicknamed “Miss Environment,” Misimi Isimi is on a mission to take on the pollution crisis in Nigeria—and ultimately change the world. Not only does the 13-year-old physically collect litter in Lagos, the country’s largest city, but she also launched (at age nine!) Eco-Kids Green Club, an organization that aims to teach children in primary schools how to live a sustainably and to understand the need for environmental protection and responsibility from an early age. As passionate about gender equality as she is the planet, Misimi volunteers in several projects supporting kids in Nigeria and advocates for girls across Africa. In 2016, African Clean Up Initiative NGO honored her with an Africa Clean Up Award as the first child environmentalist in Nigeria.
Follow: @ervisfoundation on Instagram
His cause: Cleaning the oceans
Innovator and changemaker Haaziq Kazi found his calling for cleaning the world’s oceans after seeing a whale washed ashore in a National Geographic documentary—with 37 pounds of plastic in its stomach. So when a project for his school in Pune, India, challenged him to solve a problem he felt strongly about, then-nine-year-old Haaziq set his sights on ocean trash. He designed a device he called ERVIS, a renewable energy-powered ship that could suck in and store waste, and then forward it to land for recycling. Now almost 15, he’s still working on bringing the concept to life—but in the meantime, he’s established the ERVIS Foundation, a social enterprise aiming to engage with young people to bring a generational change in the way the world consumes and disposes of plastic in a more responsible and sustainable manner.
AMY AND ELLA MEEK
Follow: @kidsagainstplastic on Instagram
Their cause: Battling plastic pollution
The scope of plastic pollution on the planet—and the lack of sustainable, non-plastic packaging alternatives available to help reduce that pollution—moved sisters Amy and Ella Meek to start Kids Against Plastic. Based in the UK, the charity is helping people break their plastic habits and lobby for change—and so far, it has picked up over 82,000 pieces of single-use plastic litter (and developed an app to keep track of it, too). Through Kids Against Plastic, the Meeks have also created the “Plastic Clever” program, which awards and promotes individuals, businesses, and organizations for reducing their use of single-use plastic. To date, more than 50 cafes, schools, businesses, festivals, and councils have participated…and helped reduce plastic use across the United Kingdom.
Follow: @Trees4goals on Instagram
His cause: Tackling deforestation, climate change, and plastic pollution
A believer that even the smallest action can make a difference, Lesein Mutunkei found a way to help the planet after learning about deforestation in his country of Kenya. Passionate about the outdoors and playing football (or soccer, as we call it in the U.S.), he founded Trees4Goals, an initiative in which he commits to planting 11 trees for every goal he scores in a match. As teammates and other students began getting involved the movement, the media noticed—and not only did Lesein get to attend the first UN Youth Climate Summit, but the President of Kenya invited him to plant trees at the State House. Today, at 16, Lesein has planted over 1,000 trees and is on a mission to create more forests in Kenya and across Africa…and to inspire the FIFA football organization to bring Trees4Goals to world football.
Follow: @lillys_plastic_pickup on Instagram
Her cause: Environmental activism
At almost 13 years old, Lilly Platt has already established herself as international environmental champion. The Netherlands native started “Lilly’s Plastic Pickup” at age seven after seeing plastic in the streets on a walk with her grandfather and learning about the negative impact it has on animals. To date, Lilly picked up close to 150,000 pieces of plastic. The longest schoolstriker in the Netherlands, she began protesting in September 2018 alongside her friend Greta Thunberg. Lilly is now a dedicated Youth Ambassador for Plastic Pollution Coalition, Earth.org, World Ocean Day Italy, and YouthMundus Festival, and has received a long list of honors, from Onalytica’s 2018 top 100 environmental influencers list, to the 2019 International Eco Hero Award, to the Dutch government’s prestigious Lintjes award for Outstanding Achievement along with Greta Thunberg and Anuna de Wever for their environmental work.
Photo Source: Platt Family.
Follow: @mikailasbees on Instagram
Her cause: Saving the bees
It took two encouraging parents—and two bee stings in a week—for then four-year-old Mikaila Ulmer to come up with a Shark Tank-winning business idea: Me & the Bees, an Austin, Texas-based lemonade business inspired by Mikaila’s research into how bees help our ecosystem and a recipe for flaxseed lemonade from her great-grandmother. Today, 16-year-old Mikaila is CEO of a honey-infused national lemonade brand (now in 1,500 stores across all 50 states) and founder of the Healthy Hive Foundation, a nonprofit on a mission to save the bees—important pollinators that are dying at an alarming rate. Her book for tweens and teens about her journey into entrepreneurship, Bee Fearless: Dream Like A Kid, hit bookshelves in August 2020.
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