Youth Pave the Way for a Greener Future

Young Environmentalists in California Use their Voices for Positive Change

The past few years have led California with weather whiplash from heat waves, mega droughts and state-wide wildfires. California continues to see the destructive effects of climate change increase each year, and many young people look to the future with uncertainty.

A recent study found that nearly 60% of young people feel worried or extremely worried about climate change. In this same study, over half of respondents shared having fear for their future and hesitancy when thinking of major life decisions like having children.

Thankfully, young people are speaking up about the environmental injustice that is happening across the globe and are paving the way for change in our communities.

Here is a list of a few California-based young environmental activists to keep your eye on and support as we work together to improve the environment and quality of life in urban communities in California and beyond.

Nalleli Cobo, 21

Los Angeles, California

Co-founder of People not Pozos, which aims to secure safe and healthy neighborhoods, and the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, which focuses on environmental racism in the community.

“I dream of a world where all urban oil drilling is read about in history books. A world with 100% clean renewable energy, where people can breathe the air outside without getting sick, and open their faucet and drink the water because it’s clean. That’s the world I’m fighting to achieve, a better and safer one for all of us.” 

Jackson Hinkle, 21

San Clemente, California

Water Ambassador, founder and current president of Team Zissou, an environmental club, and leading the “Plastic Free SC” campaign, which promotes the usage of reusable water bottles.

“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 him that he needed to take a stand and work towards building a healthier and more sustainable future.”

Aniya Butler, 15

Oakland, California 

A spoken word poet, published author, and youth organizer with Youth Vs. Apocalypse (YVA). Aniya uses her poetry and organizing, to demand immediate and radical action to dismantle the foundational systems of oppression that are responsible for the climate crisis.

“I learned that climate justice is not just about fighting for our planet, but also about dismantling the oppressive systems that allowed the climate crisis to happen in the first place.” 

Isha Clarke, 17

Oakland, CA

Co-Founder & Consultant at Youth Vs. Apocalypse (YVA) feels it is essential to pair environmental activism with environmental justice to create a just and equitable world, while maintaining a livable climate.

“I’ve since learned that climate change is the result of foundational systems of white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy. We are in a state of climate crisis because communities of color, indigenous people, poor people, and many others have been deemed disposable. Climate justice is about dismantling these systems of oppression in every way that they exist- whether that be through environmental racism, police brutality, or concentration camps at the border.”

Kevin J. Patel, 18

Los Angeles, California 

Founder of OneUpAction International, an organization that supports and empowers marginalized youth by providing them with the resources they need to be changemakers.

“Climate activism has always been associated with the white middle class demographic and not that of people of color or indigenous peoples. We don’t want to be tokenized. Within this movement people tend to forget that those who are in power have a sense of privilege and or are white, The way we narrate the movement must evolve to be more inclusive of black, indigenous and people of color activists/advocates.”

All of these young people embody the values and mission of California Greenworks. Check each of them out and see ways to support their work.

Support our work at California Greenworks to improve the quality of life in urban communities in Southern California through environmental education, urban revitalization, and green economics advocacy with your donation today.