Today we are checking in with Hannah Testa, one of our previous grantees. You may know her by her handle Hannah4Change; she’s a 16-year old environmental activist. At Greening Forward, we are continually blown away by the work of our young Earth Savers. In 2016, Hannah had a strong desire to attend the Youth Summit on Plastic Pollution. With assistance from Greening Forward’s grant, she attended the summit where she learned new ways to expand awareness in the US and network with like-minded individuals, along with increasing her knowledge of plastic pollution. Since then, she has to continued to be a change-maker: speaking on youth panels, marching, and making valuable connections with her peers. All it takes is one Eco-warrior to start a movement!
How did you discover Greening Forward?
I first learned about Greening Forward when I heard about the International Young Environmentalists Youth Summit in Atlanta back in 2014. I knew that I wanted to be a part of it, and I ended up being one of the youngest people there. I was interested in Greening Forward’s mission and I wanted to do all I could to get involved.
How was your experience attending the Youth Summit on Plastic Pollution in 2016? Have you returned since first attending?
The POPS Summit was so incredible because it allowed me to meet young students (like myself) who are focused on plastic pollution. Sometimes you can feel alone when working on these issues and this summit introduced me to new friends and mentors that I still talk to today. The summit has also opened so many doors for me, I met some incredible people that have helped me create new projects across the US. I am so lucky to have been given the opportunity to go with the help of Greening Forward.
If you had one piece of environmental advice to give fellow Earth Savers, what would it be?
Age is just a number. It may seem hard to speak up or take action on a big issue when you are younger, but trust me when I say that you are NEVER too young to make a difference. Your voice is powerful and every little action you take can make a huge impact. The little victories matter, especially when you are focusing on a massive issue. Network and meet new people. Find your tribe to help you in your battle. They will open so many doors for you and will help guide you.
Do you have a tip for what’s the easiest way to start reducing plastic waste in your community?
Educate yourself first on what the problem is and what you can do about it. Next, make small shifts in your life so you don’t contribute to pollution. Now educate others to do the same. Work with your school to make the cafeteria more sustainable, or initiate recycling programs at school/work.
What are you looking forward to achieving in 2019?
Hopefully, in 2019, there will be a huge shift in activism politically. With the major success of the midterm elections, I hope that we will be able to see politicians working alongside activists and young people to see real change in communities and nationally.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
That’s a hard question because I love to travel. I would love to go to the Amazon rainforest. It seems like such an incredible place to visit and see how stunning nature is. I would love to see it in all its beauty before it is completely gone.