Hannah Testa, a 14-year-old student in the state of Georgia, has joined the ranks of other influential kids raising awareness of the plastic pollution problem. In fact, she’s managed to get the State of Georgia to declare February 15, 2017, Plastic Pollution Awareness Day. Here’s her story, in her own words.
People always ask me how I ended up getting February 15, 2017, declared as Plastic Pollution Awareness Day in the state of Georgia. After all, this is a major eco-event and I am just a 14-year-old teen. So here is my story.
When I was 4 I realized that the actions we take today can have an impact on our world. One day, after leaving a store, I said to my parents, “No one cares about our planet except for us”. I told my parents that no one brought their own reusable bags except for us. From a young age, I knew that protecting the Earth started with us. Around the age of 10, my parents started exposing me to issues that were affected the animals I love, and so I started to really raise my voice to help the Earth and its animals. I raised money and awareness for various animal causes (it was difficult to focus on just one cause) by speaking at protests and rallies, collecting thousands of petitions to send to politicians, leading fundraisers, and producing educational videos to spread awareness of animal issues.
Around this time, I realized that one of the biggest problems facing wildlife is one that we can control – plastic pollution. For me, it is difficult to see a problem and not do anything about it. Even though I am young, through education I felt I could get others to reduce their plastic consumption because I always believed in “Knowledge is Power”. If we all were truly aware of what is really going on, wouldn’t we all want to improve the situation?
Some of the shocking statistics are that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans, that 300 million tons of new plastic are produced globally each year and less than 10 percent of that is recycled, that over 5 trillion plastic particles pollute our oceans worldwide, that more than 600 animal species are endangered or killed by plastic pollution, and that sea creatures such as fish and shrimp are eating small pieces of plastic—affecting our food chain in ways we may not truly appreciate.
After learning all I could about plastic pollution, partnering with several environmental organizations, and presenting to thousands of adults and children about this topic, I ended up networking with a local senator. My mom always taught me to seize the opportunity, so I used that philosophy to simply request that we pursue an awareness day to educate the public about the effects of plastic pollution. Together, the senator and I wrote a resolution that will proclaim February 15, 2017, as Plastic Pollution Awareness Day in Georgia. And now I am publicizing this event to as many residents and businesses as possible, with the goal that at least on this day, we will all commit to avoiding single use, disposable plastic products such as plastic bottles, straws, and bags.
This event is receiving a lot of attention, not just from within Georgia, but all around the US and even beyond. I will be speaking on the Senate Floor that day as the Resolution is read and passed. I also have a lot of environmental groups joining me in solidarity that day, most will be present and some will support me virtually. I will even have artists present that make artwork and jewelry out of plastic debris found on beaches. This artwork will be shown at the State Capitol Building in Atlanta on the day of the event.
There is no doubt that you too can do what I have done. Fuel your passion to help animals and the environment by getting educated on the issues. Remember, “Knowledge is Power.”
Discuss the issues and share what you have learned.
Network. Leverage the internet and social media. If we children join together and use the power of our collective voices, we can force change. I hope you will join me to influence changes that help our wonderful planet.
Together, let’s change the world!
Visit http://www.hannah4change.org to learn how you can get involved.