Vinh Le

Partner & Designer, Level Studio Inc.

Vaughan, Ontario, CanadaAge: 25

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My education at OCAD University ignited my passion for interior design, architecture, and urban planning. Inspired by my studies in Environmental Design with a focus in Interior Design, my partner and I opened our own interior design studio, Level Studio Inc., to promote our creative and sustainable interior solutions and help our community live a sustainable lifestyle. While at OCADU, I was a part of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) and Environmental Defense Canada (EDC). I was also invited as a Canadian Representative to two Education for Sustainable Development Leadership conferences hosted by UNESCO, in Portugal and Paris, to further my skills as an environmental youth leader.

My hope is to become an environmental leader and empower students to bring sustainability into their schools and homes. Today, my studio is working to create a social initiative that encourages youth to create sustainable artwork and designs with the goal in of further educating their communities about sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our hope is to encourage the young people we work with to pursue careers in the sustainability field.

What inspired you to become a champion for the environment and environmental education?

My involvement in FEE, YRE, and EDC inspired me to become a champion for environmental education. At the Next Green Journalist competition hosted by the YRE, I had the privilege of experiencing and investigating Sweden’s recycling program to cut consumer waste and Portugal's Blue Flag program to reduce microplastics and litter in their marinas. My perspective changed when I was able to explore Southeast Asia, Iceland, Canada, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands; learn about sustainability and design theory in every city; and witness the causes and effects of global warming. Drawing on my passion for photography and design, I photographed the natural environments and used social media to teach and advocate about what is happening around the world.

Each of my experiences has inspired me to become a champion for environmental education. I hope to provide opportunities for today’s youth to have similar formative experiences and empower them to contribute to reaching the SDGs by 2030.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders that are looking to bring about positive change in their communities through EE?

My advice is, we are all in this together. Do not lose hope in sustainability, because our world needs it now more than ever. My generation needs you to take the torch and continue to lead the way. When you are out there, remember that we cannot do this all alone. If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. Keep being an inspiration to the next generation.

If you had to live in one place for the rest of your life, where would it be?

After much thought, I would choose Toronto. It is a vibrant community with a thriving, young scene for entrepreneurship, activism, and social innovation. I currently live in the suburbs of Toronto and have spent half of my life in the city, and there is certainly a lot of work to be done to shape-up a young city like Toronto. Though I have been around the world and visited many cities, there is always something special about returning home.

What pro-environmental behavior do you think would make a big impact if everyone in the world started doing it?

Becoming educated about waste disposal and how to conserve resources. In North America, it seems like we have an abundance of resources and those are taken for granted. But if we build more awareness of our water and electricity use and proper waste disposal methods through educational workshops or videos, then together we can really make a huge impact.