International Young Eco-Heroes Inspire a Brighter Future

Young people around the world are powerful players in protecting the planet. These youthful eco-heroes promote fresh ideas for sustainability, such as “eco bricks” from discarded plastic. They work to protect pollinators, frogs, and other precious wildlife. They speak out at public forums, rallying, educating, and energizing other kids — as well as adults in power.

These young people are rallying to protect their future.

Eco-Hero Awards

Action For Nature, an international nonprofit organization, encourages, recognizes, and showcases remarkable activities and projects of kids and teens.

The organization established the International Eco-Hero Awards for Young Environmentalists to honor the work of youth who are acting to solve environmental problems. Recipients are ages 8 to 16.

“These young environmentalists look out at the world and want to learn more about it, save it, and persuade others to understand environmental issues,” says Beryl Kay, president of Action for Nature. “They are passionate about their missions and persevere with curiosity, creativity, and commitment.”

We’re delighted to share some examples from the 2020 award winners and offer our congratulation to this year’s eco-heroes.

Eco Bricks and Ocean Debris

Jade Bothma, 15, of South Africa, earned the first-place prize for her projects, which include fashioning “eco bricks ” into furniture — and possibly insulation for building homes.

“Eco bricks are plastic bottles stuffed very tightly with clean dry non-recyclable plastic,” Jade says.

Jade’s work includes establishing a nonprofit organization called Oceano Reddentes, which translates to “the ocean revives.” She and volunteers removed more than 8,000 pounds of litter from beaches.

A key facet of her project is logging the specific products within the debris collected. Her organization uses brand data collected from clean-ups for education and encouraging change.

Jade Bothma working on an eco bricks project

Jade’s projects include devising and promoting eco bricks as a potential home insulation material. Image courtesy of Jade Bothma

 Reporting Wildlife Hazards

Ishan Goyal, 15, of San Jose, California, established Pin & Post. It’s a mobile app simplifying the process for the public to report potential fire hazards to utilities providers.

“When I started the project, I had no idea that a high school kid could actually make a change,” says Ishan, as quoted on Action For Nature’s website. “I have now learned that youth have immense power and can actually make a difference.”

Football and Trees

Lesein Mutunkei, 15, of Nairobi, Kenya, linked his passions for sports and interest in the environment. At age 13, he decided to plant a tree whenever he scored in football. Later, he increased the number to 11 trees with each scoring achievement.

Lesein received support from his school, his team, and others, and his initiative planted over 1,000 trees.

“Local and international media became interested in his project, and the president of Kenya invited him to the statehouse to plant trees there,” according to the Action For Nature website.

More Award-Winners and Honorable Mentions

  • Duncan Jurman, 16, of Weston, Florida, educates others about the environmental importance of butterflies. He established an award-winning butterfly garden with a sustainable irrigation system at his high school in Florida. It attracts 28 species.
  • Ivana Ortega Serret, 12, of Atizapán De Zaragoza, Mexico, was instrumental in efforts to clean up Madin Dam.
  • Justin Sather, 9, of Los Angeles, focuses on frogs, educating others, and raising funds to protect important habitats.

Justin Sather

Justin Sather inspires and educates youth about protecting the planet, including frogs and other critically endangered species. Image courtesy of Justin Sather

  • Zach Hartman, 11, of Tampa, Florida, works to keep unwanted books, stuffed animals, and other discards out of landfills. His collection drives yielded 65,000 books, which were distributed to students and to Little Free Libraries in 50 states. Learn more on his website, zachsplanet.com.
  • Adarsh Ambati, 15, of San Jose, California, established a water-efficient sprinkler system that factors in soil moisture as well as weather conditions. Listen to Adarsh explain his project and what he learned on Earth911’s Sustainability In Your Ear podcast.
  • Rylee Brooke Kamahele, 12, of Mililani, Hawaii, is an activist, public speaker, and organizer with various initiatives in her portfolio. “The Plastics Project is Rylee’s environmental and ocean conservation program which advocates and educates about the environment, plastics, and all marine life,” according to Action For Nature.

Rylee Brooke Kamahele's "The Plastic Project" cleans plastic from beaches

“The Plastics Project” is Rylee Brooke Kamahele’s environmental and ocean conservation program. Image courtesy of Rylee Brooke Kamahele

  • Sarah Goody, 15, of Corte Madera, California, established a youth-led organization, Climate NOW. The project educates youth about climate change and teaches them skills to take action.
  • Riva Tulpule, 14, of Dubai, focuses on collecting and recycling tons of e-waste.
  • Eiman Jawwad, 15, of Lahore, Pakistan, produces fertilizer from used coffee grounds and tea bags.
  • Aditya Mukarji, 15, of Gurgaon, Haryana, India, encourages restaurants to eliminate straws and other single-use plastics.
  • Demetri Sedita, 16, of Tampa, Florida, used images from an underwater drone and worked with public officials to discourage a tradition that left waterways polluted with strands of plastic beads. Learn more on his project website, greengasparilla.org.

Hope for the Future

Action For Nature board member Chris Giorni is delighted with the eco-heroes’ efforts. “Absolutely stellar work,’’ he says. Many of our eco-heroes are willing and able to take on polluters, governments, and can organize and teach others about the importance of their work. It is inspiring and humbling.”

Find videos and stories about these and other amazing young eco-heroes on the Action For Nature website. Learn about the eco-hero application requirements and how you can help support future eco-heroes.

Feature image courtesy of Action For Nature



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