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The Zero Waste Teen By Allie Murray
From the age of 12, Ava Langridge knew she wanted to do more to protect our planet.
After stumbling upon a YouTube video, Langridge began researching the zero waste movement, and a month later, her family transitioned into a zero waste lifestyle. In three months, she and her family went from sending three trash bags to the landfill per week to only half a bag per week.
Then, to show others how easy it is to live zero waste, she created The Zero Waste Teen, her Instagram persona that showcases the importance of a zero waste lifestyle, and how easy it is to make small changes to your daily routine for the planet.
“I wanted to reach the masses, and social media seemed like the perfect method,” Langridge explained. “The Zero Waste Teen was the only thing I could think of when Instagram asked me what my account name was. I have since embraced this title as my identity in environmentalism. To me, The Zero Waste Teen is a climate activist who goes into any situation with the goal of not sending any waste to landfill and shares my experience with others to help them do the same.”
Now 17 years old, Langridge has built an online following of more than 46,000 and has furthered her mission by founding Our Youth For The Climate (OY4C), a grassroots organization empowering youth through education.
Founded amid the COVID-19 pandemic, OY4C offers free weekly Zoom workshops on the climate crisis. This year, OY4C is offering four workshops, with plans to branch out to in-person events as COVID restrictions are lifted to attend climate strikes and use their voice to make a difference.
More and more youth organizations dedicated to tackling climate change have continued to pop up, pulling inspiration from climate activist Greta Thunberg. For Langridge, she notes that working collaboratively is the best way to drive systemic change.
“Today’s youth is mostly driven by the wellbeing of others,” she explained. “We listen and share the stories of those most impacted by climate injustice. I believe that collaboration with all communities will help us create the systematic change we so desperately need.”
Together, Langridge believes that we can save our planet and uses this as the driving force for OY4C. As a team, they work collaboratively to encourage youth to take the initiative to stop the climate crisis.
To do so, they’ve hosted virtual events and created a pledge, with the goal of having 50,000 take the oath. Not only are they driven to make a difference for the climate, but they are also focused on creating ways for all people to get involved and give back.
“As a movement, we accept anyone from all backgrounds,” Langridge said. “For every project we have done in the past, including our weekly class and our educational webinar, we have included the concept of intersectional environmentalism, which is defined as an ‘inclusive form of environmentalism that advocates for the protection of all people and the planet’ by Intersectional Environmentalism.”
Ahead of Earth Day, Langridge and the OY4C team encourage others to educate themselves on the climate crisis, research what they can do, and take the pledge. Together, we can create a brighter future.