Eco-Educator Sarah Leads A Cadre Of 800 Youth In Uttar Pradesh
By Udaye Kumar for Save the Children
Sarah,20, is a Youth Leader and an Eco- Influencer who is working diligently as a change maker not just in Uttar Pradesh or in India, but across the world. As an Eco-Influencer, Sarah uses her platform effectively to endorse those brands and products which are eco-friendly and have a low carbon footprint. She also endorses eco-events and leverages Instagram reels and graphics to promote eco-actions. Currently, Sarah and her team are working on a project titled ‘Eco-Educator’ where they teach youth and school children about climate change. She is leading a team of 800+ on-ground volunteers in more than 20 cities of Uttar Pradesh, they work twice a week as change makers in their respective cities in the area of climate change, education, and social welfare.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
For me, perfect happiness is when I’m satisfied with the responsibilities I have as an activist, a team leader, a daughter, a scholar, and as a citizen. Hoping for a better planet and safer future generations gives me optimism, satisfaction, and happiness. These personally affect me a lot and give me joy more than any shiny, lavish, or materialistic place or thing in this entire world.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is when I see, the increasing number of people dying because of climate change, air pollution, poverty, hunger, and several health issues which either can’t be cured or can’t be afforded by a person living in an underprivileged section. When I see that people are not concerned, they think that this is not their job, it really affects me.
Which living person do you admire the most?
My mother, my father, and the people with whom I’m surrounded, not to mention their names but the only reason for me to admire them is they are committed to their goals, adamant about bringing a change, and optimistic about positive outcomes of their actions in their future, unlike most of the people having negative thoughts with criticism, though it should be considered too yes I don’t admire and tolerate such negative qualities of any.
Who is your favorite writer? Who is your favorite fictional hero?
My favorite writer is Mahatma Gandhi.
What is your most treasured possession?
Treasured possession is the knowledge, the experiences I’ve been through yet exploring in my life, and the memories with loved ones. Most of my material things can be lost or stolen but the memories, experiences, and knowledge will be there forever.
What do you value most in your friends?
I value their truthfulness, loyalty, and dedication towards the work in their aims and goals.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
There are plenty of them, but one of the most important things I guess is my impatient behavior so that I can be a little more patient about the things coming my way.
What inspired you to start your change-making journey?
Starting my change-making journey was a roller coaster ride, I never wondered before that I’ll ever step into activism or leadership, I’ve always aimed to be a good doctor and serve my nation, but one fine day on Twitter I was accused of being a Muslim and raising voice for the issues happening in my very own country, this triggered me to start this journey and to break the stereotypes as the crisis is for all not for any specific region.
Tell us more about the work you have done to transform change within your community.
My team and I work not just here in Uttar Pradesh, or the country but worldwide.
I am an Eco-influencer and Eco-Educator/Promoter. Being an Eco- influencer is rare at this time, influencers promote brands, events, and products of different categories, but I choose to endorse only eco-friendly products, zero-carbon footprint brands, Eco- events, and actions through content creation via Instagram reels and graphics.
As an Eco- Educator, I’m working on a project where my team and I are educating the youths and school students about climate change, from where we can find some new leaders coming up fighting for the change. We try our best to promote these leaders and make them lead from the forefront in their regions because the person who is leading, him/her needs to get a good amount of support physically and digitally as well.
Till now, I have a team of about 800+ on-ground active volunteers (consisting of college and school-going students) in about 20 cities of UP so far who are working almost twice a week in their cities to lead a change for different causes to be it climate change, education or any other social welfare related initiatives.
How did you become passionate about climate change?
I used to read articles and news about climate change affecting humans all over the world. Seeing how climate change affected them all irrespective of their financial status, gender, or their age and knew no boundaries, no limits, was horrifying, depressing, and alarming.
I came across Greta Thunberg, a young girl from Sweden who at a young age used to bunk school to protest in front of her country’s parliament because she knew if we don’t put a stop to climate change, the earth won’t survive, and neither would we. We, as humans, are the ones to blame and we are the ones who can bring a positive change. I was inspired by this young girl to do something for the planet because if she can, why can’t I?
I joined Fridays For Future and learned a lot from amazing people along the way gradually working my way up to leading various teams in organizations and movements that are working for climate change. My passion, and my drive, grew stronger when I found people who wanted to do something for the planet, they felt the seriousness, and the responsibility to demand justice for the planet.
Why do you think climate change is an important crisis that everyone should care about?
Everyone talks and promotes things related to movies, that trending reel, or just how hard life is, but very few talk about climate change and how it’s affecting all of us. Whatever action we all are taking individually today, right at this moment, be it driving our car to our friend’s house who lives nearby or buying that cool denim jacket that probably used up thousands of liters of water, every action contributes a bit more to worsening the crisis even more.
With the ever-increasing temperatures in summer, the brutal heatwaves, and the monstrous erratic rainfalls as well as the burning of fossil fuels with the ever-increasing use of vehicles, there seems to be no stopping climate change and the effects are, visibly, affecting those the most who have the least to contribute. There is no Planet B and saving it needs the efforts of all of us. Cause if not now then when, if not us then who?
If you have to sign an agreement with the United Nations related to climate change, what should that agreement contain for it to bring positive change?
If I would have to sign an agreement at the United Nations, the agreement should contain plans to provide funding to startups in India that are working on ideas to tackle air pollution and climate change but don’t have the funds or support to make their products and innovations available to a larger audience.
The agreement should contain strong agendas to curb the global rising of temperature well below 1.5 degrees Celsius by bringing sustainable development at the industry and country levels and promoting afforestation. The expertise of the United Nations should be provided to bring major changes at the policy level and to spread awareness among the general population to be responsible and be a part of the movement to fight against climate change.
If you are appointed the Environment Minister of India, what changes would you bring to India’s policies to have fast pace change in curbing global warming?
It’s surely going to be a huge responsibility. The very first decision I’m going to take would be to phase out projects that require cutting down the forest in the name of ‘development’. There is always a way to devise an ecologically sound development plan and that would require the opinions and views of experts, scientists, and young people in the process. Subsidizing e- vehicles to make them affordable for people of all income groups and their use will be promoted as well. Carrying out mass afforestation in all the states of India where the youngsters would play a major role. Organizations along with people of all age groups would be invited to take active participation as well.
Could you mention any specific points and ways by which could drastically stop the melting of glaciers, especially in the Arctic?
The melting of glaciers is a much more deep-rooted and bigger problem that is a direct result of the rising temperature across the globe. From vehicular emissions to greenhouse gases released by industries and deforestation for habitation, every action is leading to even more warming of the atmosphere which in turn is thawing the ice on the poles of Planet Earth. To stop this, we all need to step in and curb our carbon footprint, switch to electronic vehicles, and curb electricity consumption as much as we can.
As an Eco-Influencer and Eco-Educator, Sarah has amassed 11.6 thousand followers on Instagram and 2.1 thousand followers on Twitter. She continues to leverage her social media handles and platforms to instill hope in the young generation through seminars, cleanups, and collaborating with several organizations including the UP Government. Being a climate activist, youth leader, and change maker, Sarah has embodied the definition of ‘Generation Hope’ in letter and spirit by inspiring people who have become hopeless to do something about climate change.