Earth Day is April 22. On this day, people around the world focus on environmental issues. But you don’t have to wait for Earth Day to take action. You can improve our planet every day of the year. TIME for Kids spoke with young people who are working to do that. Read their stories, and let them inspire you.
Isabel (above, left) and Melati Wijsen were 10 and 12 when they learned about Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. The sisters wanted to make a difference in the world. They focused on plastic pollution in Bali, Indonesia, where they live. “We already had a strong connection to the environment,” Melati told TIME for Kids.
Melati and Isabel created Bye Bye Plastic Bags in 2013. The group’s first goal was to have single-use plastic shopping bags banned across Bali. It succeeded. Bali’s governor introduced a law banning the bags beginning in 2019.
Now the group has 25 locations worldwide. Melati hopes more kids will be inspired to speak up for the environment. “You have a voice, so use it,” she says.
When he was 12, Marcus Deans saw a photo of a child in Africa drinking dirty water. “I was shocked that this still happens in the world,” Marcus told TFK. Since then, he has been working on a filter. This filter rids water of contaminants, such as bacteria, so people can safely drink it. Marcus called the filter NOGOS. It’s made of sugar, sand, and seashells.
Now 17, Marcus is in high school, in Ontario, Canada. He’s still perfecting NOGOS. He plans to have it manufactured and sent to people who need it. Getting to this point has not been easy. “But what kept me going is that I wanted to find a solution for people who need clean water,” he says.
Bria Neff is 12 years old. She is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. When Bria was 8, she started painting portraits of animals. She started a campaign called Faces of the Endangered to sell her paintings. She donates the money to organizations that care for threatened species. So far, Bria has painted more than 250 pictures and donated $36,000.
Bria has also designed two coloring books. They are sold at the Great Plains Zoo, in her hometown. Money from the sale of these books helps fund the protection of endangered species at the zoo.
What’s Bria’s advice for kids who want to make a difference? “No matter how old you are, you can change the world,” she says. “No idea is too small.”
HENK KRUGER—AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY
Twelve-year-old Hunter Mitchell, from South Africa, was 8 when he heard about a young rhinoceros. It had been abandoned by its mother. All alone, the animal was in danger. Hunter wanted to help. He started a campaign. It raised thousands of dollars. Hunter used the money to buy food for the rhino. He also helped create an enclosure where it could live in safety.
Rhinos are native to South Africa, but poaching has put them at risk. Hunter now travels around the country. He speaks to students and collects money for his fund, Raise the Baby Rhino with Hunter. He’s planning to expand his efforts. “My dream of saving one rhino has turned into a goal of saving all of our rhinos,” he told TFK.