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Youth Are Leading the Charge for Environmental Change—Here Are 3 Ways to Make an Impact

An expert shared tips on how students can make a difference right in their own communities.

Written by
Tehrene Firman

Young environmental activists have become an extremely powerful force in the fight against climate change, from the companies they choose to support to their volunteer and donation efforts.

Younger generations also face much larger impacts from the environmental risks we're encountering today, and they're coming together all over the world to do something about it.

In the latest episode of Good Together, Brightly's co-founder and CMO, Liza Moiseeva, chats with Sara Nathan, the president and CEO of Amigos de las Américas, about how young people can be catalysts for social and environmental change in their own communities.

"We're a nonprofit that provides service and immersion experiences for students all throughout the region of the Americas," Nathan says. "We started in 1965; our first program was in Honduras. Now, more than 30,000 young people have gone out to live, learn, and work in communities and the environment. Our vision as an organization is to build a world where all people are lifelong leaders sharing responsibility for our global community."

Nathan is one of those lifelong leaders. She got involved as a high school student wanting to make a difference, volunteering in Costa Rica with Amigos. That trip—and seeing the beautiful natural environment—lit a spark in her. She went on to blend her passions for the environment and Latin America in college by getting two degrees: one in conservation and resource studies, and the other in language.

Nathan has now been working with Amigos as its CEO for over eight years. With a passion for helping young people change the world, she's sharing some of her top tips for those who wants to make a difference. Listen to the full episode above, and grab some quick pointers below.

How to Change the World as a Student

1. Get Involved in Environmental Organizations

One of the best ways to make a difference is to get involved in environmental organizations, where you can work with other like-minded individuals.

"Start with a quick search in your community for environmental organizations, or events and activities happening," Nathan says. "There's a lot of learning happening in all of our communities."

You can also work with Amigos. According to Nathan, there are 20 local chapter organizations around the United States, and those local organizations work to help fundraise and support students to participate in the program.

"It's a great way to meet others in your community that want to get out and explore and learn about the world and the key issues that we have facing us today," she says. "We also have financial assistance available; we're very committed to making the travel programs more accessible."

2. Start an Eco Project of Your Own

If you don't have an environmental organization near you, there are still ways you can change the world in your own backyard.

"I've seen students do incredible projects," Nathan says. "One recently designed and implemented a project where they raise money, purchase, and deliver eco-friendly takeout containers and silverware to certain restaurants in their neighborhood. Another student in Houston provided a refillable water station at a local elementary school."

If you want to start a world-changing project of your own, Nathan says to first figure out what you're passionate about then go from there.

"I would say, pick the topic and then start doing the research. See what's already happening and how you can get involved, and then how can you help take it even further," Nathan says. "Every neighborhood is going to be so different in terms of what the environmental needs are."

3. Remember Small Steps Make a Big Difference

We're all about taking small steps here at Brightly. Moiseeva says even sparking a conversation with a local business about sustainability could make a difference.

For example, speaking with a local restaurant about how they approach plastic waste, and helping them make choices that more eco-friendly. Or, teaching them how to compost food waste. What starts as one change can open the door to many.

4. Join Brightly's Scouts Program

If you're looking for a virtual eco-friendly community, join Brightly's Scouts Program. There are currently 24,000+ planet champions looking to change the world!

When you join the free program, you get access to the eco community, support on your sustanability journey, access to free planet-friendly product drops, receive a special weekly newsletter, and more.