April 2017

April 30, 2017

Hannah Herbst, 16, Boca Raton, Florida

By Teen Vogue

When Hannah Herbst, was in seventh grade, she received a newsletter discussing the living conditions of her pen pal Ruth, who lives in Ethiopia, and learned that she was living in energy poverty with minimal access to electricity: lights, medical supplies, even sewage control systems. “I knew that I wanted to do something to help, so I created an ocean energy probe I call BEACON, or Bringing Electricity Access to Countries through Ocean Energy,” she tells Teen Vogue.

The device converts the kinetic movement of current energy from any moving body of water into a source of useable electricity, and applications can be utilized in areas where people are living in a state of energy poverty globally, as well as a platform for STEM education in classrooms. It’s made from 90% recycled materials easily found throughout the world, including 2-liter bottles and recycled spoons. The device costs $12 to make and can produce enough electricity to power an LED light bulb. Hannah envisions BEACON being used in developing countries to power desalination pumps for fresh water, run centrifuges to test blood with, and power electric buoys for maritime navigation.

April 29, 2017

Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, 21, Eugene, Oregon

By Teen Vogue

No big deal, but Kelsey currently stands as a lead plaintiff in the federal lawsuit brought by Our Children’s Trust, filed out of the Eugene Federal District courthouse, known as Juliana vs. United States Government. “Our case argues that young peoples’ 5th amendment rights to life, liberty, and property and the inalienable rights to clean natural resources such as water and air are being violated through actions our government has and continues to take in funding and promoting excessive fossil fuel infrastructure, thereby contributing to climate destabilization and jeopardizing the security of young peoples’ future and violating our rights,” she tells Teen Vogue. Kelsey started her activism days early, organizing and leading a march around Eugene, Oregon for 350.org’s first national day of climate action when she was in fifth grade back in 2007.

“The past few years we’ve had states of emergency in Oregon due to drought and each year there are hotter and hotter temperatures. Seeing how climate change has had an impact in the five years since filing a suit for climate recovery in Oregon, and seeing how little action those who hold political power have enacted, makes me disappointed and concerned for the integrity of our democratic system and this planet,,” she says. Never one to miss a creative opportunity to raise awareness, she’s been heard chanting “Stop global warming or we’re all dead ducks,” in cheerleader outfits outside the University of Oregon Ducks football stadium on ESPN GameDay, and has been interviewed by CNN, PBS, The Atlantic, and other national media outlets.

“Some people don’t think much of the millennial and younger generations. They call us entitled, saying we lack drive and ambition. Well, we are entitled: to having our constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property upheld, and the climate justice movement is very much a youth-led one.” If you want to plug into a leading youth-climate-justice groups, she says, check out the Earth Guardians.

April 28, 2017

Celeste Tinajero, 21, Reno, Nevada

By Teen Vogue

Celeste first became keyed into environmental action when her older brother started an Eco Warriors club at Reed High School and urged her to join. With a desire to make a lasting impact on the school, they competed to win grant money through a local organization called GREENevada to make their high school more sustainable. They won first place and immediately began to renovate ​Reed High’s “outdated and wasteful bathrooms.” When they won second place the following year, they used it to encourage people to drink from reusable bottles out of a central Brita Hydration Station.

Now, she’s the Education Program Manager with local non-profit Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, where she has designed school curriculum on sustainable living. “I have the opportunity to ​teach and inspire local students, residents and businesses about the importance of sustainable living and the health hazards of litter and illegal dumping, waste reduction,” she tells Teen Vogue. Starting with a platform like a school or a supportive non-profit organization can lead to other organizations, businesses, or agencies that can help fund projects to make your school more sustainable, she says, and before you know it, your project or initiative can transform into a career or a bigger project in the community.

“Don’t hesitate and don’t worry about funding. Work with a group of hardworking, willing, and determined people. Then create a compelling and efficient plan; the rest will follow,” she says. “We can fight for all of the issues that we are passionate about forever, but if we don’t have an Earth to survive us none of it matters. Someone has to give our planet a voice.” She has received a Golden Pinecone Award for Youth Environmental leadership and a 2015 Brower Youth Award for her efforts.

April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017

Jackson Hinkle, 17, San Clemente, California

By Teen Vogue

Jackson Hinkle, an avid surfer, has always been aware of the issue of plastic pollution and its effects on ocean ecosystems; but it wasn’t until this year, when he became a Water Ambassador for The Water Effect at The Ecology Center that he began to realize how far reaching the threats of plastic water bottles are. “From the methods in which plastic water bottle companies source their water, to the long lasting effects of plastics in the environment, to the inevitable health hazards of toxins leaching into drinking water from chemicals in plastic bottles, it was clear to me that I needed to take a stand and work towards building a healthier and more sustainable future,” he tells Teen Vogue.

April 26, 2017

April 26, 2017

Delaney Anne Reynolds, 17, Miami, Florida

By Teen Vogue

Delaney grew up surrounded by water, splitting her time between her modern city and a remote, 1,000-acre island that housed just 43 solar-powered homes. In third grade, her class collectively wrote a book, Laws of the Universe, that inspired her to learn more about the environment she came to love so much. She continued to research issues like rising sea levels and gradually learned about climate change and the significant threat that rising oceans pose to South Florida, and began to interview local political leaders, climate scientists, business owners, and others being impacted by sea rise or working on solutions to help them. Our planet’s warming climate, she says, is the most important challenge that our generation will ever face.

April 25, 2017

Annabel Caren Clark, 18, Dallas, Texas

By Teen Vogue

Annabel’s activism started small: she rallied her high school classmates to plant milkweed around the school for monarch butterflies in the peak of their migration season. After her peers expressed a desire to learn more about environmental conservation and a lack of knowledge about how to take action, she looked for ways to get involved and found World Wildlife Fund’s Panda Ambassador program, for which she was chosen to serve as a ‘super activist’ working directly with WWF to lead and advocate on conservation issues in the U.S. and around the world. From there, Annabel took her passion directly to her classmates, creating her school’s very own World Wildlife Fund Club, where she continued researching and preparing presentations on species such as snow leopards, elephants, and ocean life. It’s now one of the most popular student groups at the school, and she has since created a program for middle schoolers as well.

April 24, 2017

Allison Boyer, 18, Chico California

By Teen Vogue

What started as a 7-year-old’s desire to do something about the palm oil crisis plaguing orangutan habitats has turned into a fully scalable nonprofit called Purses for Primates that has raised over $27,000, to protect orangutans and their shrinking habitat. Allison is also a Barron Prize winner, and collects gently-used handbags from across the U.S., resells them at fundraising events, and donates 100% of the proceeds to Orangutan Outreach, a New York City-based conservation group.

She is a founding member of the group’s extensive children’s program, Forest School 101, and serves as the program’s current ambassador. “Orangutans have such an intelligent mind. They teach each other and grow together,” she tells Teen Vogue. “I have and always will feel personally responsible to try my best to rally as many people as I can to help save these creatures.” She attributes much of her success, though, to her BFF, Natalie Katsikas, who stuck by her side over the past 11 years while other friends faded away or called her efforts “dorky.”

April 23, 2017

Why Peter Thiel believes in this 22-year-old’s dream to clean up the oceans

By Susan Caminiti

With his tall, thin frame and tousled mop of dark brown hair, Boyan Slat looks more like a guitarist in an indie rock band than the founder and CEO of a foundation determined to clean up the world’s oceans.

Yet that mission was precisely what Slat, 22, wanted to talk about during a recent Skype interview from his nonprofit’s headquarters in the Netherlands. The entity he started when he was just 17 is called The Ocean Cleanup. As the name implies, it is an audaciously bold attempt to fix a rather overwhelming problem: ridding the world’s oceans of the trillions of pieces of plastic and other debris that now threaten the health of sea life and, if left unchecked, eventually humans as well.

Full Story

April 22, 2017

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

By Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Around the world, people are celebrating Earth Day as an opportunity to ignite passion, increase the groundswell for environmental activism, and inspire creative solutions. At Wild & Scenic, Earth Day is every day! We use film as a vehicle for change day in and day out. We believe film educates, motivates, and activates. So what better way to start your Earth Day Celebrations than to check out a few films. Here are four films from past festivals that show the beauty of our planet and inspire us to work harder every day to be intentional and passionate stewards. We’d like to share them with you to enjoy, inspire, and pass on. Happy Earth Day!

Watch Free Movies!

April 21, 2017

A Pace College student in a gas mask “smells” a magnolia blossom in City Hall Park on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, in New York. AP

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Earth Day

By Katelyn Newman

1. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., created the first official Earth Day on April 22, 1970. He was inspired by the student anti-Vietnam War “teach-ins,” and referred to his own as a “national teach-in on the environment.” About 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day.

2. Some say the date was chosen so that more students would be able to participate, as it fell between spring break and final exams. Others attribute the date to Arbor Day, a holiday that promotes the planting and caring for trees.

Full Story

April 20, 2017

This 16-Year-Old Revolutionary Is Taking On The Federal Government Over Climate Change

By STEVE BRAMUCCI

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez was sick of witnessing how the federal government manages our environment. More than that, he was sick of not having a say on the matter.

“Branches of government and the entities that are meant to protect people’s voices are no longer doing their job,” he explains.

Xiuhtezcatl is only 16. This means he’s too young to elect leaders that will help shape our nation’s environmental policies, though he will most certainly have to live with the consequences of their decisions. This didn’t sit well with the bold teen, so he decided to snap into action.

Working as the Youth Director of Earth Guardians, a non-profit started by his mother in 1992, Xiuhtezcatl and a coalition of youth have partnered with climate scientist James Hansen to sue the federal government for a violation of constitutional rights. Under the banner of the 501c-3 charity Our Children’s Trust, a group of six teen plaintiffs are bringing the fight to the federal government.

Full Story

April 19, 2017

How to Be a Kid Environmentalist

By wiki

While there are oodles of promises and “going-to-dos” out there about protecting our environment, a lot of it is yet to happen and often it seems as if the adults are running around talking hot air but nothing much is changing. As a kid, you care about the environment and you want to know what to do to help make our world a better place to live in. There’s a lot you can do; by being a kid environmentalist, you are not only making a good choice to improve your world now but you are also helping to protect your resources, nature and the atmosphere we all breathe well into the future. Here is how you can get started.

1. Don’t be afraid of becoming a kid environmentalist. Some people don’t understand or they have misunderstandings about the worth of doing our bit for the environment. They may try to make fun of you. If this happens, just stand your ground and tell them firmly but politely that you care about the planet and that you want to make sure that we have a safe and healthy environment to live in.

Full Story

April 18, 2017

Getty Images

Little Greenies: Proof that Kids are Environmentalists
We are born with a natural concern for the environment—even if we don’t always hang onto it

By Jeffrey Kluger

If you find it hard to like James Inhofe—the Senator from Oklahoma who famously called climate change the “greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people”—remember this: he was once five. That matters, because Inhofe wasn’t merely a lot younger back then, he was a lot wiser—at least where the environment is concerned. That, according to a new study from the Teacher Training College in Bilbao Spain, is true not just of the gentleman from Oklahoma, but all of us.

Educators and other people who work with small children know that they’re anarchists by nature, but they’re anarchists who also know that they live in a world full of rules.

Full Story

April 17, 2017

Inspired By Films, Kid Environmentalists Take Action To ‘Save Tomorrow By Helping Today’

By Andrea Shea

When you picture an environmentalist, who comes to mind? Al Gore? Ralph Nader? Maybe a bearded dude from Greenpeace canvassing on the street?

How about an 11-year-old kid?

Well, some young environmental crusaders are taking action in Lexington, and they’ve been inspired by short, kid-centric documentaries that are screening at the Belmont World Film Family Festival this weekend.

When I arrive at Alice Van Evera’s house in Lexington she and Mari McBride are dying to share a catch phrase they dreamed up for their three-kid environmental group.

“OK, literally two seconds ago before you got here we decided we needed a motto,” they admit, laughing. “So the motto is, ‘Save tomorrow by helping today.’ ”

Full Story

April 16, 2017

DragonImages/Getty Images

30 Totally Doable Ways to Be a Greener Parent

By Lauren Matison

We get it. Some days you actually feel like you’re Mother Earth and the weight of the world is on your shoulders. That’s why we came up with 30 small changes you can make that will lighten your load and your carbon footprint.

From household hacks to money-saving tips to what kids should (and shouldn’t) be bringing to school, we consulted six experts—and did plenty of product-testing and soul-searching ourselves—to present you with these (totally easy!) ways to be a little bit greener as a family.

1. Cut back on red meat, which is detrimental not only to your health (it can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer) but to the environment as well. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, cattle farming is responsible for 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases and is a major source of deforestation. Consider swapping red meat for these delicious, kid-friendly chicken or turkey recipes instead.

2. Ditch the plastic bags. Nearly 9 million tons of plastic waste fill the oceans every year, but it’s easy to do your part to reduce that number if you keep a reusable one with you at all times—like this cute and charitable Earth Enthusiast tote from FEED or this compact grocery bag made in the USA from Maptote.

Full Story

April 15, 2017

Getty Images/ DNY59

Badass Little Girl Confronts Climate-Denying Congressman With Brilliant Question
And then invited him to her science class.

By REBECCA LEBER

Voters aren’t letting their representatives get away with climate change denial, especially at their town halls this week. Even those too young to vote are getting in on the action, like at a Wednesday town hall in Colorado Springs, where one girl confronted her congressman.

“You don’t want to pursue renewable energy, but please reconsider,” the girl, who identified herself as Haven, said. Haven made her thorough case for solar and wind, noting that these fast-growing jobs were a retraining opportunity for veterans, while reliance on coal, which has the downside of making people sick, is declining. She concluded with an invitation to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) to join her science class next Friday, receiving cheers and applause from the 110 people in attendance. The class will include a presentation on climate change, she added.

Full Story

April 14, 2017

Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Students see promise in careers in the business of sustainability

By LORI VALIGRA

Two small, isolated Maine colleges that focus on sustainability and the environment know they aren’t for everyone.

Students have to work in the local community, where they experience the real world and reflect on how they can apply that and their book learning to impact the future of the world.

“Everything we work on is involved in the community. It isn’t theoretical, but real,” said Spencer Gray, a fourth-year student from Woolwich who is working within College of the Atlantic’s new Community Energy Center, which matches students with solar and other sustainability efforts in the local community. Many students like Gray self-direct their studies, and there are ample opportunities for collaborations with other students and the one-on-one interactions with professors that small colleges afford.

Full Story

April 13, 2017

Shutterstock

8 reasons for hope in the face of climate change

By World Wildlife Fund

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing people, wildlife, and the planet. From warming temperatures to more extreme weather, communities around the world are already feeling the impacts.

But we can create a safer and resilient future if we work together to rethink the way we produce and consume energy, food, and water; protect the world’s forests; and help people prepare for inevitable change.

Such a task can feel overwhelming and daunting at times. After all, doing so requires swift and collective movement from every nation at a time when visions don’t always align. However, if we look closer, there is reason for hope. We have a global roadmap to address climate change—the historic Paris Agreement. And we are already riding a wave of momentum of climate action, coming from different parts of society.

At WWF, we’re engaging with millions of Americans, leading businesses, and government leaders to tackle climate change.

Here are eight reasons why we’re hopeful in the face of this threat:

Full Story

April 12, 2017

On your honor, will you do your best to sustain the environment? Get inspired by the Boy Scouts

By TreeHugger

The Boy Scouts of America not only offers a Sustainability merit badge, the group actually counts it among the required merit badges to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. In addition, sustainability components are woven throughout many other merit badges, including:

Soil and Water Conservation
Pulp & Paper
Camping
Forestry
Fish & Wildlife Management
Bird Study

The Boy Scout’s website Green to Deep Green describes how important sustainability is to scouting:
“When you break it down, sustainability goes hand in hand with being a good Scout. Reducing what we consume and recycling, repurposing, restoring, and repairing what we own all are parts of being thrifty, a key point of the Scout Law.”

Full Story

April 11, 2017

Flickr CC

How can kids get involved in environmental advocacy?

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

There’s no time like the present to teach kids to respect their environment and be willing to stand up to protect it. Of course, any good environmental education starts at home: parents should always keep in mind that they are role models for their kids, and should act responsibly. And most schools today incorporate issues of sustainability into their curricula. But kids who want to do more can sync up with one of any number of nonprofits focused on getting young people involved with volunteering and advocacy on behalf of the environment.

One of the best places to start is Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!), a nonprofit that runs a national speakers’ and workshop tour around the U.S. and beyond as well as summer camps devoted to teaching kids how to take action on behalf of the environment.

Full Story

April 10, 2017

LUCA BERARDI THE CONSERVATION CHAMPION – SAVING THE WORLD AT TWELVE YEARS OLD

By Orion McCarthy

Like many 12-year-olds, Luca Berardi enjoys learning about science and playing outdoors. He also loves animals and likes to sing.

But Luca is not your average kid. He is a young environmental activist and a walking, talking conservation success story.

At the age of eight, Luca founded an environmental organization called Young Animal Rescue Heroes (YARH) after reading about endangered animals in a library book. Four years later, he has successfully networked with multiple conservation groups to expand YARH’s mission, which now includes sustainable waste management, environmental education, and community outreach.

Full Story

April 9, 2017

Alex Lin, Teenage Activist

By Salvatore Cardoni, Published 2010

He’s overseen the recycling of 300,000 pounds of e-waste. He’s successfully lobbied the Rhode Island state legislature to ban the dumping of electronics. He’s used refurbished computers to create media centers in developing countries like Cameroon and Sri Lanka to foster computer literacy.

He’s Alex Lin and he’s just 16 years old.

“I don’t see anything uncommon in it,” says Lin, a high school senior from Westerly, Rhode Island. “My friends and I have been doing this since fifth grade. It’s become part of our lifestyle.”

Lin’s catalytic moment came in 2004 when he chanced upon a Wall Street Journal article. “It first alerted me to the e-waste problem, and warned of an e-waste tsunami to come.”

E-waste, or electronics garbage, is the fastest growing section of the U.S. trash stream. In 2007, Americans discarded more than 112,000 computers daily, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Even worse, just 18 percent of discarded televisions and computer products were collected for recycling.

Full Story

April 8, 2017

Nine-year-old girl files lawsuit against Indian Government over failure to take ambitious climate action

By Chloe Farand

A nine-year-old girl has filed a court case against the Indian Government for failing to take ambitious action to tackle climate change.

Ridhima Pandey’s lawyer told The Independent she was a “compassionate child” who wanted her Government to help protect the planet for future generations.

The northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, where Ridhima lives, has been devastated in the past three years by heavy rains, flash floods and frequent landslides, estimated to have killed thousands of people.

And Ridhima has argued that India, the world’s third carbon emitter, has failed to put into action the promises it made in signing and ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Full Story

April 7, 2017


Teen eco activist spurs hope at children’s peace prize award

By Phys Org

Award-winning teen environmental activist Kehkashan Basu said Friday ecologists should “not lose hope” in their battle to fight climate change, despite scepticism from world leaders including US President-elect Donald Trump.

“These are uncertain times, but I want to tell people to continue their work and not bother about it,” Basu, born in Dubai to Indian parents, told AFP in The Hague, where she was awarded the prestigious International Children’s Peace Prize.

World leaders, CEOs, negotiators and activists attending a UN conference earlier this month in Marrakesh voiced concern following the election of Trump, who has vowed to withdraw the US from a hard-won global agreement on climate change.

“Do not stop what you’re doing. No matter what happens, we have to continue to save the planet,” the 16-year-old said shortly before being handed the prize at a glittering ceremony at a medieval banquet hall in the city.

Full Story

April 6, 2017

Environmental Children’s Organization

Raised in Vancouver and Toronto, Severn Cullis-Suzuki has been camping and hiking all her life. When she was 9 she started the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They were successful in many projects before 1992, when they raised enough money to go to the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Their aim was to remind the decision-makers of who their actions or inactions would ultimately affect. The goal was reached when 12 yr old Severn closed a Plenary Session with a powerful speech that received a standing ovation.

20 years later in 2012 she returned to Rio De Janeiro to once again address the UN.

April 5, 2017

Photo: katimavik.org

Teens unite for the planet

By Green Living Editors

How Canadian youth are making green mainstream and creating some serious hope for the future.

It might be shocking news to some. Teenagers—those headphone-touting brooders so often viewed as lazy, irresponsible and disinterested in world issues—care about the environment. They really care, suggest the results of an Australian survey released earlier this week. More than 80 percent of 4000 teens surveyed are concerned for the environment, citing worries such as bushfires, climate change and animal extinctions at the top of the list. And two thirds of them believe that their government is too inactive on the green front.

A hop, skip and a hemisphere away, these sustainability sentiments are being echoed by Canada’s own generation of green-inclined teens. Canadian youth are concerned about the environment, and some are taking extraordinary steps to help out.
Full Story

April 4, 2017

Credit: Sam Beebe/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Kids versus Fossil Fuels: A Chat with a Teenage Activist

By Jennifer Hackett

A group of 21 climate-conscious kids is suing the U.S. government over global warming, accusing the defendants of endangering the young plaintiffs’ lives, liberty and property via the extensive use of fossil fuels.

They are backed by the environmental advocacy group Our Children’s Trust, which has supported similar lawsuits in other states, but this is the first time such an action has come this far, after a federal judge ruled that they have constitutional grounds to press their case.

The government and three fossil fuel industry trade associations had filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the U.S. has no duty to protect natural resources at the federal level and that the public trust doctrine—a foundational principle of many environmental and natural resource laws—only applies on the state level. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon ruled on April 8 that the government is subject to the doctrine, and that as trustee of the nation’s resources it must protect them.

Full Story

April 3, 2017

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Earth Guardians Youth Director

By Earth Guardians

His first name is pronounced ‘Shoe-Tez-Caht’ and he’s a 16-year-old indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and powerful voice on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement.

At the early age of six, Xiuhtezcatl began speaking around the world, from the Rio+20 United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro to addressing the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York. He has worked locally to get pesticides out of parks, coal ash contained, and moratoriums on fracking in his state, and is currently a plaintiff in a youth-led lawsuit against the federal government for their failure to protect the atmosphere for future generations.

Xiuhtezcatl has traveled across the nation and to many parts of the world educating his generation about the state of the planet they are inheriting and inspiring youth into action to protect the Earth. His message has inspired youth to join the front lines combating the environmental crisis, as well as form Earth Guardian crews in over 30 countries.

Full Story and Video

April 2, 2017

Student Develops An Ingenious Building Material That Shapeshifts In Response To Rain


By MEG MILLER

When Chao Chen had to conduct a materials study during his second term at the Royal College of Art, he found inspiration while walking through London’s Hyde Park on a rainy day.

Picking up a pine cone, he noticed that it reacted to water by closing its outer shell. Now, he has developed a building material, based on the pine cone’s anatomy, that can shapeshift in response to weather.

Chen knew that pine cones open and close as a survival mechanism to protect and release their seeds, but what interested him was how. So that day, in Hyde Park, he grabbed a few pine cones, took them home, and sliced them in half. “Each pine cone has two layers,” Chen says in a phone interview. “When it gets wet, the outer layer elongates more than the inner layer and closes in on itself. As a designer, this was very important for me.”

Full Story

April 1, 2017

How India Is Teaching 300 Million Kids to Be Environmentalists

In an enormous undertaking, schoolchildren nationwide are learning about climate change and the environment

By Beth Gardiner

On a dusty patch of ground beneath a concrete overpass, about a hundred children, the sons and daughters of rickshaw drivers and farm laborers, sit cross-legged on dirty mats, in bare feet or flip-flops, learning their letters and numbers—and the basics of environmental protection.

A few miles and a world away, on the manicured green campus of a private school just outside New Delhi, eager pupils in crisp white uniforms tend a medicinal herb garden, make bags from discarded newspaper to supplant plastic ones and soak up the knowledge they’ll use to pester their parents about conserving electricity and water.

Every one of India’s 1.3 million schools, as well as all of its 650-plus universities, are required by a Supreme Court order to educate each young Indian about the environment and sustainability. Driving the program is a belief that teaching these topics is key to addressing India’s many severe ecological problems, from polluted air and water to a disease-spreading lack of sanitation.

Full Story