The Ocean is Rising, So are the Youth

May 23, 2019

By Serena, LCV Member and Environmental Advocate

My name is Serena, I am 15 years old, and I believe our Earth is worth fighting for.

I first learned about the impact of climate change when I missed a movie screening about climate change and decided to take it upon myself to do my own research. I was shocked and immediately wanted to get involved beyond just learning about the issue. I wanted to make an impact.

I started leaving sticky notes on my bedroom mirror every day to remind myself of the steps I could take to personally reduce my carbon footprint. Turn off the lights. Don’t leave the water running. Recycle. I told my friends, too! But I still wanted to do more — something that could involve my classmates so they could make an impact, too.

So I went to SOLVE, a local non-profit organization here in Portland, Oregon, and I organized a beach clean up for the day after my 8th grade graduation. I was so nervous that no one would show up for our voluntary community service, but almost everyone did! I felt so relieved.

We spent the day picking up micro-trash — things like bottle caps, cigarette butts and can tabs —  as well as other litter on the beach. At first many people didn’t think this trash was a big deal since micro-trash is so small and not as visible, but after only an hour and half, we had filled up an entire SOLVE trash bag and removed a giant piece of styrofoam! Getting on our hands and knees to pick up the micro-trash on this beautiful beach was a great way to show everyone the depth of the problem.  

That was a year ago. Since starting high school, I have continued to fight to stop climate change in new ways. At the beginning of the year, I got permission to put up stickers on the paper towel dispensers that read “Remember these come from Trees” to help remind teachers, students and staff to keep watch of how many paper towels they use. While continuing to highlight the importance of individual’s personal responsibility in the climate crisis, I embraced political activism too. I attended the Portland Youth Climate Strike in March with 2,000 of my fellow students. I also went to Renew Oregon‘s Youth Climate Summit to learn more about how I could help combat our climate crises.  

Since I went to that meeting, I have been going into classrooms and teaching my peers about ways in which they can get involved with climate activism. By getting them to sign a youth climate petition that shows support for the Clean Energy Jobs Bill (HB 2020), which is currently making its way through the Oregon legislative committees, the collective voice of my peers is being heard.

I’m excited to start advocating for the climate in this way. It’s still really important to do things like pick up trash, and I want to continue getting my classmates involved in beach clean ups across Portland. But I also want to start addressing the problem from its source. There wouldn’t be as much trash if companies stopped making plastic. And companies would stop making plastic if politicians stood up for us and outlawed single-use plastics like plastic bags and straws.

I believe in a better future. That is why I am fighting for our Earth. Climate Change will affect us and future generations, and I take that seriously. We are waking up to the biggest threat of our time, and we need politicians to do the same!  Take action now before it is to late!