25 Under 25: Young Environmental Activists Fighting to Save the Planet
Our magnificent planet is struggling with so many foes at once, most of them are man-caused – the rising temperatures, changing climate, gigantic levels of pollution, and disappearing species. While the global communities talk about combating the climate crisis, they have overall failed in protecting the ecosystems, so far. However, various young environmental activists are working hard to save the planet.
Since 1880, the global temperature has increased by 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit; with a majority of this rise occurring in the last 35 years. The usage of plastic has drastically and catastrophically increased due to its longevity and strength, which ultimately has polluted every corner of the planet including the depths of the oceans and the peaks of the highest mountains.
Scientists have reported a minimum decrease of 13 percent per decade in the Arctic Sea ice, an increase in stronger, more destructive storms, and an increase in extinction due to animal endangerment. All these issues have been profoundly impacting the environment, nudging the earth toward an impending doomsday.
All this makes one wonder – “Humans do nothing but consume and destroy. Name one species that will miss them!” There are no species that would miss humans if humans were to be extinct at some point in time, and that is the bitter truth!
Nevertheless, future generations are taking over the charge to help protect the environment. Gen Z has taken on the enormous task of saving the planet from changing climate and the destruction it could bring about. Here are 25 environmental activists under 25 years of age, who are working to save the planet from the repercussions of the mistakes that all the human race has committed over the years.
Ella and Caitlin McEwan, 11 and 9 yrs. old, respectively
The youngest activists on this list, sisters Ella 11 and Caitlin 9 started a petition on Change.org to impel fast-food chain Burger King and McDonald’s to stop giving out plastic toys with kids’ meals. Upon learning the drastic effects of plastic waste on wildlife, the siblings decided to take charge and their petition has gathered over half a million signatures since then. Both fast-food chains have stopped handing out plastic toys.
Sofia Molina, 11 yrs. old
This young environmental activist believes that on a large scale, small and everyday actions of conservation can protect the endangered planet and its inhabitants. She has organized over 1,500 students through her conservation nonprofit Cococu, named for the first syllables of concientizar (to raise awareness), conocer (to know), and cuidar (to care). Molina has been traveling across Mexico to teach people about conservation, the United Nations’ Global Goals, and inspiring countless to follow in her footsteps.
Rylee Brooke Kamahele, 12 yrs. old
Kamahele has been a dedicated environmental activist for years, spreading awareness about human impact on the planet. She championed legislation through her campaign Promise to Our Keiki, Keep Hawaii Hawaii, which has been passed as a bill at the local level and soon bill be enacted statewide. The law aims to promote environmental stewardship, restoration, and conservation throughout the state. She founded the organization the Catalyst Club, which supports and empowers youth activists, organizes beach cleanups, and saves and rehabilitates animals.
Mari Copeny, 13 yrs. old
Aspiring to be the president one day, Mari Copeny is a youth activist from Flint, Michigan. In 2016, she wrote a letter to President Barack Obama to draw attention to Flint’s ongoing water crisis. Her words not only inspired Obama to visit Flint and authorize $100 million to fix the crisis but also impressed him with the ingenuity of then 8-year-old Copeny. She started #WednesdaysForWater last year, raising awareness about the importance of clean water.
Lilly Platt, 13 yrs. old
A British-born Dutch environmentalist, Lilly Platt is famous for her peaceful strikes highlighting the environmental crises. She is the Global Ambassador of YouthMundus, Earth.org, and WODI, the youth ambassador for Plastic Pollution Coalition, and a few others. Her passion for the environment was ignited when she saw enormous amounts of plastic litter and learned its dangers. She started picking discarded plastic and over the years she has cleared over 100,000 litter pieces from her surroundings. She aims to wake the world up from slumber to the harmful effects of climate change and plastic pollution.
Haven Coleman, 14 yrs. old
Another American climate and environmental activist, Haven Coleman is dedicated to raising awareness and demanding action concerning climate change and its effects on the planet. After learning that her favorite animal, sloths, are threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation, she committed to sustainable lifestyle choices. She has been a part of ‘Fridays for Future’ school strikes to support the cause, ignoring the discouraging comments from people.
Alexandria Villasenor, 15 yrs. old
Another young mind inspired by Greta Thunberg, this New York resident is a co-founder of US Youth Climate Strike and founder of Earth Uprising. Alexandria Villasenor’s combat with climate change started when she was caught in a smoke cloud from the November 2018 Camp Fire in California, which is one the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in California’s history. She researched the issue and learned how climate change and global warming have fanned wildfires in the past years. She soon joined the Zero Hour group of youth climate activists.
Autumn Peltier, 16 yrs. old
Autumn Peltier is a Canadian water activist and is an Anishinaabe Indigenous. She addressed world leaders at the UN General Assembly on the issue of water protection. With global warming, the water levels are declining and some major cities experiencing Day Zero; under such circumstances, it has become imperative to save the water resources for the survival of life on earth. She continues her work for the access of clean water to all the Indigenous communities across the globe.
Jayden Foytlin, 17 yrs. old
Jayden Foytlin is an Indigenous and Cajun, and is one of the 21 people suing the US government in Juliana v. United States. Foytlin has been protesting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, saying that government cares more about money for the fossil fuel industry than the future of the planet. The Louisiana resident has been a victim of hurricanes, floods, and air and water pollution from the development of fossil fuels in southern Louisiana.
Blue Brasher-Rues, 17 yrs. old
Back in 2017, Blue Brasher-Rues, a 10th-grade student at Fayetteville High School in Arkansas, won the Bow Seat’s Gold Award for her campaign against plastic pollution. She planned and curated a student art show and open mic to raise awareness in her community about ocean plastic and its effects. She partnered with OMNI Center for Peace, Justice& Ecology to raise environmental issues through various arts.
Leah Namugerwa, 17 yrs. old
This Ugandan youth climate activist is famous for leading tree-planting campaigns and for starting a petition to ban plastic bags in the country. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, she began supporting school strikes in 2019 with another Fridays for Future Uganda organizer Sadrach Nirere. Having witnessed countless climatic calamities in and around Uganda, Namugerwa aims to bring the world together for strict climate action.
Jerome Foster II, 18 yrs. old
An American climate activist, Jerome Foster II is known for his passionate speeches advocating for the use of intergovernmental unity and climate justice to spread awareness about the climate crisis and ways to mitigate it. He helped in the organization of three out of the top ten largest climate marches across the Washington, D.C. area and has spoken at United Nations Youth Climate Summit in September 2019. In 2017, he founded The Climate Reporter, an international youth-led climate-focused news outlet for Indigenous communities to share their stories of how the climate crisis has impacted their lives.
Isra Hirsi, 18 yrs. old
This Minnesota-resident has a deep passion for changing the world and has been a fellow teen environmentalist Haven Coleman in cofounding and co-executive directing the US Youth Climate Strike. She believes that for a livable future on the earth, the climate crisis must be stopped. The daughter of Somalia immigrant, Hirsi proudly identifies herself as a climate and racial justice advocate, having her family experience diversity and the effects of climate change firsthand.
Greta Thunberg, 18 yrs. old
This Swedish environmental activist became a leader for the young people after her ‘Fridays for Future’ strikes inspired millions of people to skip school and demand immediate climate action. Greta Thunberg has spoken at several inter-governmental and global summits like the UN Climate Summit, the World Economic Forum, COP24 Climate Summit, and more. She has directly and publicly called politicians and entrepreneurs out for not doing enough to combat the changing climatic patterns. She convinced her family to adopt several green lifestyle choices to reduce their carbon footprint.
Nadia Nazar, 18 yrs. old
Co-founder of Zero Hour, Nadia Nazar was always interested in environmental issues, but she was deeply influenced by Jamie Margolin’s call for active protests against the climate inaction of the global communities. The series of species extinction due to climate change had made an impact on her mind and she wanted to actively work to help protect the environment from man-made foes. After helping to organize the D.C. Youth Climate Strike in 2019, Nazar has become the Maryland state lead for US Youth Climate Strikes.
Xiye Bastida, 18 yrs. old
Xiye Bastida is one of the lead organizers of the Fridays for Future youth climate strike movement. Born and raised in Mexico as part of the Otomi-Toltec Indigenous people, Bastida is on the administration committee of the Peoples Climate Movement. She has also received the “Spirit of the UN” award in 2018. She has been a leading voice for the Indigenous and immigrant communities in climate action, raising awareness about the vulnerability of her people amid the climate crises.
Jamie Margolin, 19 yrs. old
Jamie Margolin is an American climate activist who co-founded the Zero Hour Organization in 2016 alongside Nadia Nazar. She has been educating people about climate change, its impact on the planet, and repercussions if the human race fails to stop the phenomenon. She is optimistic that a change in leadership will bring progress in addressing and resolving the climate crisis. Margolin has become a voice for marginalized communities who somehow are most affected by the phenomenon.
Helena Gualinga, 19 yrs. old
Born in the Indigenous Kichwa Sarayaku community of Ecuador, Helena Gualinga has witnessed the persecution of her family for standing against the big oil companies and their environmental impact on Indigenous land. Several members of her community have lost their lives in violent conflicts against authorities when protecting the environment. Following her family’s footprints in environmental activism, Helena exposes the effects of climate change on Indigenous communities in the Amazon.
Katie Eder, 20 yrs. old
Katie Eder has always been an activist who wanted to change and repair the things in the world. In her early teenage years, she founded a nonprofit organization to bring creative writing workshops and published the works of teenagers who participated. She founded Future Coalition, an NGO working for social change, which helped organize the September 2019 Climate Strikes in the US. The NGO is a network of youth-led organizations that are working toward social change.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 20 yrs. old
The youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organization, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has been spreading awareness about the effects of fossil fuels on the Indigenous and other marginalized communities. He has addressed at the United Nations many times and is one of the plaintiffs involved in Juliana v. United States, a lawsuit against the US government for its climate inaction. Inspired by his mother’s activism, Martinez has been fighting for climate justice.
Bruno Rodriguez, 20 yrs. old
The Argentine climate activist, Bruno Rodriguez was one of the first speakers at the Youth Climate Summit, 2019, where he declared climate change the “political, economic, and cultural crisis of our time.” He has organized student walkouts in Buenos Aires, inspiring other young people to fight government complacency and pollution by corporations. He is strictly against the continued use of fossil fuels that are exacerbating the carbon emission problem and demands the elimination of carbon-emitting resources for fuel.
Vic Barrett, 20 yrs. old
Vic Barrett is a Honduran-American college student and one of 21 plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States. He is a fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education and spoke at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris. Belonging to the Afro-Indigenous Garifuna community, Barrett has suffered at the hands of Superstorm Sandy, and he consequently learned about climate change and climate change. Since then, he has been fighting for people who are more affected by the climate crisis than their counterparts.
John Paul Jose, 23 yrs. old
This climate activist and global peace ambassador thinks that India should declare a climate emergency, as its biodiversity and culture both are facing direct threat from climate change. He criticizes the empty talks of the government about embracing renewable energy and planting trees, and continued use of coal. He has been spreading awareness about the impacts of climate change on India’s forests and trees, water and food security, and its inhabitants. He urges the authorities to take strict climate action before it is too late.
Luisa Neubauer, 24 yrs. old
The German climate activist is one of the main organizers of the school strikes for the climate movement in the country. She is an advocate of a climate policy compliant with and even surpassing the iconic Paris Agreement. Neubauer is also a member of the German environmentalist Green party. She has been witnessing the ecosystems collapse, species endangered and extinct, all of which inspired her to do her part for the safety and survival of the planet.
These young environmental activists are truly inspirational and we all must learn a thing or two from them in order to save the earth from the dire effects of climate crises.