Sainath is an amazing changemaker for the environment from the United Arab Emirates and he is only 12 years old. He is carrying out many different changemaking activities.
We asked him some questions about being a changemaker. Here’s what he said.
How did you find out about our Changemakers Program? “I came to know about the Changemakers program when I visited the KidsRights Instagram account. When I browsed, I came to know of the various initiatives and activities that children and youth all over the world are doing as part of the Changemakers program. I want to thank your team for the fabulous program for the changemakers as it motivates and encourages them to do more.”
What inspires you to be a changemaker?“I strongly believe that “Together we can create a wave of change”. Therefore, we as global citizens need to work in unison and try to save our resources. When I visited my hometown, I was really shocked to see heaps of plastic and wastage being littered all over the places. I started to wonder: if this was the status of just one city, then if we consider all the countries in the world, what would be the amount of plastic wastes? We live on a blue planet, with oceans and seas covering more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface. Oceans feed us, regulate our climate, and generate most of the oxygen we breathe. Oceans are facing threats as a result of human activity. Every year, an estimated 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in the world’s oceans. Plastic pollution is an important global issue. I want to change the world’s attitude towards plastic within a generation because if the same trend continues by 2050 there would be more plastics in the seas and oceans when compared to the marine species, as per United Nations Environment Program. At Drop It Youth First Campaign launch, I saw a movie “A Plastic Ocean”. That was an eye opener to the problem of plastic pollution and how marine species ingest plastic and then, in turn, we ingest them. I understood that “Plastics are not our body’s best friend”. This is the main inspiration for me to become a changemaker. I am actively participating in the environment activities and spreading awareness for the past 4 years along with my sister Sai Sahana Manikandan. I got interested in environment sustainability activities when I read about various articles on the importance of preserving and protecting our earth’s resources. My school’s (GEMS United Indian School) environment club aims to inspire and take action to create better solutions to protect the future of nature. I take part in their initiatives and activities to protect our natural resources. I am trying to adhere to one of our school’s core value which is Global citizenship- Making an active contribution to our local and global community we take up responsibility and truly understand the value of protecting our earth’s resources. Small changes make a big difference and impact.”
What challenges did you encounter during your changemaking activities?“I started my PEPC Campaign in my school and community. It was difficult to convince my friends and others to try and reduce their single-use plastics in their daily life. My friends now do understand the importance of taking care of our natural resources and would like to be part of these campaigns which indicates that there is a positive impact on them. They realize their responsibility and would like to take action along with others by following these simple tips:
1. Carry a refillable water bottle
2. Refuse plastic food packaging
3. Refuse plastic straws, plates, cups….
4. Take your own shopping bags (cotton/jute bags)
5. Save water and electricity
6. Plant trees
7. Walk whenever possible to your school or office to reduce air pollution or use public transport
I also want to organize for many tree planting activities for which getting approval from various government entities was challenging and difficult.”
What is your biggest dream? “The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced a plan to make the emirate free of single-use plastic bags by 2021. I am in touch with them and following their activities closely to educate myself and raise awareness regarding the problem of plastic pollution in my school and community. The amount of waste output from UAE is very high and most of these wastes may be recycled. UAE government is taking various steps to recycle and is introducing zero waste to landfill strategy at Abu Dhabi. My future plans are to work along with these government entities and support them to tackle these environmental issues and heal the environment; love the planet. Apart from that, my biggest dream is to build my prototype robot, Marine Robot Cleaner in a bigger scale so that we can save our marine ecosystem.”
What advice would you give to other children that want to become changemakers?“We can change our existing practices into green and sustainable solutions using technology. When I initially started my campaign to protect our environment, a few made fun of me while a few asked, “What difference is it going to make?” But every single measure that each of take to preserve and conserve the natural resources surely matter to our environment. My advice to the changemakers is to keep themselves motivated and don’t feel demoralized as it is our prime responsibility to preserve the earth for our future generations.”