Richmond, British Columbia, Canada & Hong KongAge: 16

Tell us a bit about yourself!

As a current high school student, my passion for Environmental Education started through my high school's environmental team. I am the president of the Richmond Secondary School Green Team, where the club aims to reduce my school’s environmental impacts through engaging campaigns and projects. We spread awareness about waste management and energy conservation within the student body, educating them about the Richmond School District's primary areas of sustainability. I also share my knowledge from these experiences as a team leader in the City of Richmond's Green Ambassador program, which connects all of Richmond’s high school environmental teams into one vast network. We lead monthly symposiums and workshops to develop student leadership and their knowledge of our environment, and we also conduct an annual youth-led environmental conference that teaches elementary students the importance of sustainability. The project enables secondary students to take action and learn how to present and organize their own workshops, while sharing knowledge on sustainability to elementary students throughout the City of Richmond.

I also co-founded a project called The Plastic Connection, a Facebook page that "aims to educate sustainable plastic usage and disposal among British Columbians, Canadians, and global citizens." We host frequent workshops and events across Metro Vancouver on the effects of plastics in our everyday lives and ways we can be environmentally sustainable with plastics. I hope my work can influence the youth in my community to take action for environmental causes, as we are the solution to changing our world’s most predominate global issues.

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

Simply speaking, I care about the environment because I am scared. My family immigrated from Hong Kong to Vancouver when I was very young, and every time I return I notice the major difference between the two cities’ actions being taken to sustain a healthy, livable environment. Here in Canada, I can enjoy fresh water, clean air, and lush nature that surrounds me daily. We take our environment for granted every day, and it scares me when I hear about the impact we have made, damaging our world. From sea levels rising to climates changing, and even toxic waste appearing in our local wildlife, it astounds me how much damage we do, yet we are ignorant towards the aftermath of our actions. Sustainability is what motivates me to do what I do, and I believe sustainability is a goal each and every one of us on this planet should try to reach.

Being supported by my local government with the youth programs I help lead, having countless mentors advise me on unique ways to lessen our daily impacts, and friends that can connect the importance of protecting the environment to their passions helps motivate me to continue to strive and inspire. I envision a better future for the environment and my community, and I am truly dedicated to educating others to achieve these goals. 

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

I am fortunate to live in one of the world's greenest cities, Richmond, Canada. Here, the environmental sustainability movement is acknowledged, and my community is aware of the importance of protecting our planet. I can travel to local mountains and beaches while still enjoying the bustling heart of a city filled with diverse cultures and experiences. I wouldn't want to leave Metro Vancouver, as there is so much fantastic work being done to sustain this region. From successful curbside recycling programs, to sustainably planned festivals and a state-of-the-art fresh water treatment plant, I believe the world can learn from my community’s emphasis on the benefits of a green economy. If I didn't live in Richmond, I might not have embarked on the environmental work that I do today.

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

Reducing our consumption and reliance on single-use plastics is one of the most impactful environmental behaviors we can take towards a more sustainable future. Almost everything in our world today has plastic in it, however it has become a major issue when producing single-use items such as plastic bags, cups and straws. We don't think about plastics enough, since plastic appears and then "goes away." Plastics take a long time to break down since synthetic polymers are so durable, yet we use this tough material for items that are meant to be thrown away after one use. We've created so much plastic that it is now everywhere, going into the oceans, our environment, and even our bodies.  That's why I co-founded The Plastic Connection.

We are turning our world into plastic. It scares me to think about our loss of control over plastic consumption. I want to continue addressing plastic pollution from a global perspective, or we won't be able to enjoy the privileges we enjoy today in the future (like sushi!).