Fresh Leaf Forever

Cleaner Planet: How to build a more Sustainable World

February 15, 2023 Vai Kumar interviews Sarah Syed Season 3 Episode 1
Cleaner Planet: How to build a more Sustainable World
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Fresh Leaf Forever
Cleaner Planet: How to build a more Sustainable World
Feb 15, 2023 Season 3 Episode 1
Vai Kumar interviews Sarah Syed

In this opening episode of Season 3, eighteen year old Climate activist Sarah Syed emphasizes how small actions can lead to giant differences in preserving our planet and future.

Sarah talks about her journey and how she started taking an interest in the preservation of the climate. As a fourth grade project presenter in school, she learned that it wasn't just about global warming but so many other things like our food systems, fossil fuels and energy sustainability. Poverty is also a factor to contend with, she realized, and  how our actions have a long term effect on the planet.

Her journey began when she realized that humans weren't living in harmony with nature, leading to an equilibrium loss. She had to make small changes in her own life, such as using a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic one.

Our guest sees climate change as a gigantic puzzle piece. Need for renewable energy, tackling gender inequality and poverty, all contribute to climate change - as education could foster innovation to help solve and mitigate the issue. Sarah emphasizes the importance of taking action now in order to create a better future.

She believes that technology is not the only solution to addressing climate change and that in order to have a sustainable future, a balance of technology, community, businesses, government and individuals is necessary. Her passion for science and technology drove her to work on a project to create a biosorbant, or a sponge made from biomass, which can remove 98% of oil and heavy metals from water.

We also talk about -
- Why climate change is perceived just as global warming
- Need to cut deforestation
- Her involvement with "You are the change"
- How youth of today can participate and make a difference
- The different avenues that one can resort to and help resolve this crisis
-  How to get involved in climate movements
-  Mix of creating awareness and leadership, starting one's own climate journey.
-  Sarah using her passion area to drive change - technology: bio sorbants, IoT in   agriculture, AI based transparent rotating solar cell, 3D printable biodegradable coffee pod
-  Multi pronged approach : advocacy, innovation and incorporating personal life changes
- Need to address our food eco system


Like my guest rightly put it, "It's more about how our actions of today and tomorrow can lead to more hope."

Send us a Text Message.

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Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

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Show Notes Transcript

In this opening episode of Season 3, eighteen year old Climate activist Sarah Syed emphasizes how small actions can lead to giant differences in preserving our planet and future.

Sarah talks about her journey and how she started taking an interest in the preservation of the climate. As a fourth grade project presenter in school, she learned that it wasn't just about global warming but so many other things like our food systems, fossil fuels and energy sustainability. Poverty is also a factor to contend with, she realized, and  how our actions have a long term effect on the planet.

Her journey began when she realized that humans weren't living in harmony with nature, leading to an equilibrium loss. She had to make small changes in her own life, such as using a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic one.

Our guest sees climate change as a gigantic puzzle piece. Need for renewable energy, tackling gender inequality and poverty, all contribute to climate change - as education could foster innovation to help solve and mitigate the issue. Sarah emphasizes the importance of taking action now in order to create a better future.

She believes that technology is not the only solution to addressing climate change and that in order to have a sustainable future, a balance of technology, community, businesses, government and individuals is necessary. Her passion for science and technology drove her to work on a project to create a biosorbant, or a sponge made from biomass, which can remove 98% of oil and heavy metals from water.

We also talk about -
- Why climate change is perceived just as global warming
- Need to cut deforestation
- Her involvement with "You are the change"
- How youth of today can participate and make a difference
- The different avenues that one can resort to and help resolve this crisis
-  How to get involved in climate movements
-  Mix of creating awareness and leadership, starting one's own climate journey.
-  Sarah using her passion area to drive change - technology: bio sorbants, IoT in   agriculture, AI based transparent rotating solar cell, 3D printable biodegradable coffee pod
-  Multi pronged approach : advocacy, innovation and incorporating personal life changes
- Need to address our food eco system


Like my guest rightly put it, "It's more about how our actions of today and tomorrow can lead to more hope."

Send us a Text Message.

Buzzsprout Get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Enjoy PIOR Living products
Enjoy PIOR Living products at a 20% discount and free shipping on orders over $75 Code FLF20

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

0:00:09

A

Welcome to freshleaf Forever, a podcast that gives you fascinating insights week after week. Here's your host, Vai Kumar.

0:00:20

B

Hey, folks, welcome to another episode on podcast freshleaf Forever. I have here with us Sarah Syed. She is an 18 year old top 20 under 20 in the world top 2525 environmentalist in Canada, Climatech innovator and poet, fran Toronto. So she is a technology enthusiast who has witnessed the potential emerging tech has within the energy field to mitigate one of our most pressing issues climate change.

0:00:52

B

And I just couldn't be more proud of you, Sarah, the fact that you're so young and you're doing so much towards such a pressing issue for our world today, which is climate change. Welcome to the show and a wonderful New Year 2023 to you.

0:01:10

A

Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to participate in this conversation today.

0:01:15

B

All right, let's get rolling here. You have always gravitated towards nature, seems like, so why don't we start with your journey and when you think all this interest in our climate and the preservation of it all started for you.

0:01:30

A

I think everyone has this very pivotal moment in their life when they realize the gravity of climate change. And I think most of the time we go about in our daily lives thinking of climate change as global warming, so increasing temperatures, or maybe let's say the glacier is melting and the biodiversity loss. But really, climate change is this overall image and this overall picture of how our actions are contributing to the destruction of our planet, of sustainability, of biodiversity.

0:02:00

A

So for me, I was always the type of person who loved spending time outdoors like any young kid. I really enjoyed hiking, going on like bicycle rides with my family. And so essentially in grade four, our teacher asked us to do a presentation on a global problem. And I was tasked present about climate change. I went about doing research, reading the statistics, and I really discovered what climate change is. It's not just about this kind of like one term that we hear like global warming but really it's about so many other things like our food systems, like fossil fuels, even our energy.


0:02:43

A

Is it sustainable? Poverty really led me to discover that climate change is essentially our actions and the gravity that they can have on a long term scale. So that's really when I witnessed there's this huge equilibrium loss. We're no longer at a balance where we're taking more from nature and nature cannot restore it, when essentially we're supposed to be living in harmony with nature, not against it.


0:03:12

A

And so from there, when I was in grade four, I realized we are living in this dystopian like world. And from there I wanted to start to try seeing how I can make a change in my own life. And so it's like small things. So instead of using a plastic water bottle, using a reusable one and that's what started off kind of my journey in the climate space.


0:03:34

B

Wonderful. So why don't you share your educational background with listeners? Because you having spoken, whatever you did, I think everyone is going to start wondering, hey, how come I missed out on this eloquent speaker? Who is she? Where is she from? What is she doing? She seems so young.


0:03:53

A

So I recently graduated high school as of June 2022. And so right now I'm on a gap year. So I'm currently volunteering with the starfish Canada to provide climate workshops for kindergarten students all the way to grade twelve students. And I recently got an opportunity to participate in this gaptivist program, which is for students on a gap year at the David suzuki Foundation. And essentially this program will allow me to work on my own climate projects, whether that be in tech or let's say hosting other workshops.


0:04:31

A

And at the same time I'll also be able to help the David suki Foundation with their own projects as well in the climate space. So this year is mainly focused on a lot of tech projects, some that I'll be talking about later on, and as well focusing on my climate activism journey as well. And I hope to study in the fall of 2023. And so that's still kind of I think I'm still thinking about the plan, which university, which course, but I do want to definitely do something in the environmental field.


0:05:06

A

So either my major will be in that or I'll be minoring in environmental studies.


0:05:12

B

Oh, sweet house. Sweet. Congratulations on your high school graduation and for all that you're doing right now, be the change you wish to see a coat in your classroom inspired you to do more. I know you said, yeah, everyone thinks climate change is global warming, so why don't you kind of take us through like the need for everyone to act now?


0:05:33

A

Sarah yeah, so I like to sometimes describe climate change like a gigantic puzzle piece. Climate change is a bunch of these smaller problems that are connected together that create this very scary term. This could be, let's say, gender inequality. How gender inequality is currently contributing to climate change or so, for example, poverty or the lack of education. So with the lack of education, for example, then many other young people, especially girls, they will not have the opportunity to contribute their ideas or their innovation that could potentially help solve and mitigate climate change.

0:06:12

A

Climate change or really this, it's a global crisis that's impacting millions of people in the global south, as we have seen in 2022 with the floods in Pakistan that have killed over 1700 people, and along with that, over 7 million people were left displaced. And so it's really a problem that we're seeing the presidented sort of impact day by day, especially during the summers with the wildfires in Australia or also in Canada, in Vancouver, and even in.

0:06:46

B

California right there's so much going on.

0:06:49

A

Yes. In California. In the UK. And so estimately, I was reading a few days ago this report and it was written by the UN. And it said that wildfires are expected to increase by 50%, by 2100. We need to cut down on harmful human activities that are affecting climate change. So let's say phasing out fossil fuels and shifting to more cleaner energy, like renewable energy, for example. And so, by addressing climate change, essentially we can build this sustainable future.

0:07:26

A

Because right now we are at the edge of a cliff. It's how our actions today and tomorrow, how they will either shift gears and put us on the right track, or either we will continue down on the same track and no longer have a habitable planet for today's generations and even for future generations. And so it's really critical that we realize that it's really now or never. And if we don't act now, then we really aren't going to be having a planet to sustain anymore.


0:07:58

B

What do you think prompted you to sort of stem as an avenue with all the innovations and all the models that you're trying to come up? Where do you think we have gone wrong so far? And what made you resort to that route?


0:08:12

A

Sarah so I think one thing that we might need to shift in our ideology is that technology is going to solve it all. But the truth and the reality is that technology is not going to solve or mitigate entirely the climate crisis. It's really a mix or a balance of technology, community, businesses, government and as well individuals. So technology can help us to a certain extent. For example, if we are going to phase out fossil fuels, we need to shift 100% to renewable energy.


0:08:47

A

And technology can help that with developing better solar panels, with developing better wind turbines. And as we've recently read, we are now able to install wind turbines on oceans, for example, or like on different forms of water. So for example, let's say sea or lakes, depending. And so technology is really helping us get to a better sustainable place. But at the same time, it's also going to take on a federal level and on a more political level, a more better approach to regulating how much carbon emissions can be emitted by certain companies.


0:09:28

A

And it's also going to take businesses to become more sustainable. So even small things like instead of using fossil fuel based electricity, instead of maybe using renewable energy instead, like solar panels. And so it's really a balance of everything. But for me, I think why I decided to take a tech route is because I'm really passionate about science and technology. And I believe that you need to connect your passion to create more of a sustainable awareness or to become a change maker. Because one of the really nice things about connecting your passion to creating change is the fact that you also enjoy the process because you're doing something you like.


0:10:15

A

For me, that's technology. So I decided to take the stem route while also continuing my volunteering and advocacy because it was something that I found myself really enjoying to do. And so, for example, just about two years ago, I was working on this biosorbit, essentially, that can remove 98% of oil and heavy metals and different kind of organic compounds from water. For those who don't know what a biosorbant is, it's essentially kind of like a sponge made out of biomass. So in this case, I used pomegranate orange peels.


0:10:50

A

And when these peels, they go through thermal modification of polymeric compounds, essentially, which is this fancy term of basically trying to increase their ability to remove oil or different harmful substances from water. Then essentially we can create this sort of biosurbent or like this sponge that can remove all these harmful toxins from water. And what really led me, or prompted me to work on this project was I was reading an article and read about oil spills.


0:11:21

A

It's something that we see so many times in a year. Like every single time we go check oil spills on the news, we see it happens almost every single month in different places around the world. And the fact that there is no concrete sort of solution is really alarming because over millions of animals die each year because of it, because they develop hypothermia because of the oil. And so it's really important that technology can get us a part of the way.


0:11:54

A

But I think it's also important to look at natural ways as well. So, for example, planting more trees. Trees are a great way of decarbonisation. And so while there are other new forms of technology opportunities, for example, like carbon capture, which are these huge machines that can essentially move like millions of tons of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, I think that we can have that to aid us. But at the same time, trees can also restore biodiversity loss and at the same time, they can also act as a natural carbon reservoir as well.


0:12:35

A

So I think finding that balance between nature solutions and then also technology solutions is what we need in order to progress significantly.


0:12:46

B

I love that the fact that nature can nurture is something we all have to keep in our minds every single day and not just abuse our surroundings. Right? Instead, we just have to facilitate stuff that can help us look at the future more optimistically. And you are the founder of you are the Change and you even had an environmental team hackathon organized for someone that's just really new to this whole concept of what's going on, what we are doing wrong.


0:13:19

B

How do you even introduce this concept of climate change? How do you make them realize, hey, this is what is the very basic problem?


0:13:27

A

I think one of the best ways to start off by talking about climate change is to tell specifically individuals, let's say young people, so that they do not start to have a sense of eco anxiety, the fact that climate change is not your responsibility 100% to solve. It's a problem that we all need to pitch in.


0:13:52

B

And so it needs to be yeah, collective responsibility. Right. And then you don't want anyone to feel overwhelmed, especially like really young minds.


0:14:01

A

Yes, exactly. So it's a really intergenerational effort. It's going to take youth, it's going to take adults, it's going to take everyone around the world to pitch in and realize that our actions do have an impact and our positive actions can make a better difference sustainably. So I think one thing just to introduce sort of climate change and what I've been doing with the workshops that I've been hosting with the starfish Canada is to sort of ease into the subject. So start off by talking about something smaller, like pollution, how that's impacting our climate, and then talk about smaller solutions.


0:14:43

A

Trying to take a more token action approach is really important. So imagine if, like, everyone in the world said that my small actions don't matter. And then each of those people had one plastic water bottle. That would mean just by the end of the day, if they, let's say, decided to litter and not recycle, then that would mean we have 8 billion plastic water bottles already in our landfills oceans, or let's say community parks, for example.


0:15:11

A

And so it's really about putting the ideology that small actions do matter and that your action does matter, even if you're just one person. Because as I always say in my presentations, it's because right now, what our world needs is your actions times the 8 billion people on this planet. And so I think it's really yeah.


0:15:34

B

The fact that one small action can lead to ginormous results, it's a positive that young minds can see and interpret and therefore start doing right. Every small step is going to help our planet and their own future and the future of other generations to follow, right?


0:15:54

A

Yes, exactly. That's really well said. And so I think that really summarizes how you can sort of talk about climate change to, let's say, younger children and then as a student, let's say, grows older and they sort of develop this mindfulness for their climate actions. It can really lead them to sort of take their actions to the next level. So that could mean volunteering. That could also mean starting your own innovative projects. And so that doesn't need to always necessarily end in tech, but that can also end, let's say, starting a new program at your school.


0:16:32

A

And so I would say as you grow older, and especially for, let's say, someone of older age watching this, I would say try to look at what you're curious about in terms of the climate space. So let's say if you're really interested in ocean biology or let's say the wellness of our oceans. Then look at how maybe that could be an opportunity to start. Let's say maybe an ocean habitat restoration project at your school.


0:17:03

A

Or let's say a smaller organization with a group of friends who have the same interest. And that could mean something as small as doing a beach cleanup to something bigger, like hosting a conference to help other young people learn more about it. So I would say trying to pair your curiosity and your interest to how you can make a difference along with your passion is something really important, wonderful.


0:17:30

B

What about what you're doing via your organization? You are the change.


0:17:35

A

So with your change it's essentially kind of given the name youth can be the change. And that age is not a limitation. It's really your superpower because you're young and there are so many young people around the world today fighting for the same common goal. And so if we have all these youth coming together, striving for a sustainable future then really can lead to greater results because the power is in the number of the people. Essentially one thing that you are the change is focusing on is how we can mobilize students or youth passions and mindsets to create a sustainable future.


0:18:13

A

So we host different kind of opportunities for young people. So the hackathon is essentially a 24 hours to 48 hours competition that's in the tech space. So that project was mainly focused for people who have an interest in Stem or technology. And so we essentially hosted different climate workshops. We had mentoring opportunities. We also offered coding workshops for free as well so that young people could learn more about tech and see if it's something that they want to incorporate in the way that they want to become changemakers. And so essentially the groups of students or let's say, you know, individuals, they could design their own projects and our judges volunteer their time to look over those projects and then select the winners.


0:19:03

A

So kind of like a mini tech competition. You could say that's kind of in the tech aspect. But for 2023 we are hoping to host one on entrepreneurship. So how entrepreneurship can lead to becoming a changemaker in the sustainability space. And we are hoping to also organize over the summer a writing or creative writing contest to illustrate how poetry and short stories can also be a different sort of pathway and medium to also become a change maker.


0:19:34

A

Because I think at the end of the day, the purpose of sort of advocacy and as well, creative writing or tech is to find solutions, but also to at the same time empower others to know that they can make a difference and also spread awareness to the problem at hand so that more people can get involved in the whole climate movement and can also get involved in deciding or taking better actions as well.


0:20:04

B

How much help are you getting with you? Are The Change, are you just the sole brain and effort behind that organization? Or have you managed to get a team put together to help you in your efforts? How is that going, Sarah?


0:20:19

A

So it's kind of a lot of different, I guess I want to say avenues of help. So we've also partnered with different organizations to launch these different projects. And at the same time we do have a group of volunteers at you or The Change who have also helped in the process of organizing the hackathon. And so if you are interested in volunteering, I'm pretty sure that maybe vai can share the link to sign up for volunteering.


0:20:50

B

Absolutely.


0:20:51

A

Okay, thank you so much. And at the same time, we do also have our team of volunteers. We do partner with different organizations and we are looking into getting grants as well to fund different opportunities. So I would say to anyone who is interested in starting your own, let's say, youth led organization, definitely get a team of volunteers that can help you out. Because always as a team, it's always better.


0:21:17

A

You can learn from them, you can hear their perspectives and that can lead to a better overall project. And also partnering with different organizations is a great way to get more people to see your project and the event or initiative you're trying to start. And at the same time, you can also build a connection with different organizations that are working on a collective sort of goal. And so I would say those are the top three kind of help, but.


0:21:47

B

I didn't okay, but how do you introduce or how do you even let this concept of sustainability, or that word even gel or sink in when you just talk to people, do you just bring in aspects of preservation, conservation? How do you make sure that people understand what a sustainable future looks like around them and for the others on this planet?


0:22:15

A

I think everyone has their own definition of sustainability.


0:22:19

B

Just like climate change is perceived in so many different ways, right?


0:22:24

A

Yes, exactly. I think the best way to ask someone or to talk about sustainability is to ask them what they define sustainability as. For me personally, I think a sustainable future looks like a balanced equilibrium. So this basically means that we are living in harmony to nature. This means that we are not having extinction, for example of, let's say, many species because of human activities. This could also mean we are not harming biodiversity for our own benefit. For example.


0:23:00

A

So shark fin soup is a very common example of how sharks fins are taken and then at the same time that is just used to make soup, but then the rest of the shark and just thrown back into the water. And without its fins it essentially cannot swim, so it dies. And so I think it's really about realizing that there are so many things that we don't need to do. And what that means is trying to minimize our carbon footprint as much as possible.


0:23:31

A

For example, in Canada most of our electricity comes from hydroelectricity. But in the United States, according to different sources, renewable electricity for cars, sometimes it comes from, as well, fossil fuels. It's really important that in terms of having a sustainable future, we make sure that it's sustainable on all ends, from our ocean to our forests. So this means as well, cutting deforestation.


0:23:59

A

The Amazon rainforest, for example, is a place full of biodiversity. But the fact that most of the trees are being cut down to start cattle farming is really unfortunate. I think in order to classify our future as sustainable, we need to have sustainability as the core on every single aspect. So as mentioned, oceans, our forests, our own daily lives as well. So this as well could mean recycling, better composting minimizing our carbon footprint, our ecological footprint as well.


0:24:38

A

And so as well as how can sustainability be incorporated in businesses, in government offices, for example? So that's how I would classify sustainability, a more equilibrium, balance sort of future kind of how it used to be. Before we start introducing fossils.


0:24:59

B

Perfect. How can youth of today participate in any of these ventures? How are you or anyone else that's advocating for climate change leveraging resources needed to accomplish the goals that are common to this planet? It's not your goal or my goal.


0:25:17

A

Right.


0:25:18

B

I guess that kind of translates to what is also getting addressed as the most pressing issue. I mean, you highlighted several there.


0:25:26

A

So I think I would start off with saying that token actions are amazing and if that's what you're doing so far, keep doing it. But especially at a time like now, we also need to shift from token actions and focus on advocacy, but most importantly, solutions. So we can no longer live in a time of apathy. We need to turn this apathy into empathy. And instead of just leaving it on empathy, we need to now turn it into action. I would say for youth around the world, see how you can get involved in your own climate journey. So start your own climate journey in a way. And the best way to do that is to start volunteering. The biggest key goes back to honing your focus on a specific problem because you can't tackle all problems at once.


0:26:16

A

So I would say choosing a specific problem and then seeing an organization that you can join that is focusing on rectifying that problem. And then from there you can take your own steps to create your own sort of pathway. So this could mean starting your own organization that, let's say, maybe focuses on two or three of the connected problems or maybe starting an initiative in the organization that you're a part of.


0:26:43

A

Or this could mean organizing a climate strike. This could mean a lot of different things. That would be the first key, I would say. And the second key is for tying your passion to, let's say, becoming a change maker. So for me, that's technology and as well, poetry, because I really love writing poetry, so I've had the opportunity to write a lot of my poetry and have it published in youth books across Canada to spread awareness on climate change.


0:27:13

A

And so really, any effort that you put into making our planet more sustainable or more brighter is not just a waste of time. It really does have an impact, whether you see it or not. It's either inspiring someone to start their own journey or it's getting you to where you want to be in terms of your climate activism and where you want to reach the results.


0:27:43

B

Back in a moment with our guest on Fresh Leave Forever. And you are a speaker across the world advocating for climate change. And you mentioned when we even look at what climate change is, it involves several pieces to the puzzle, right? One of which you mentioned, yes, educating and empowering people more. So there's even the abandonedness to do something. And then you mentioned several other things. There poverty, gender inequality. How is all this contributing to whatever crises we are seeing?


0:28:24

A

So I think I'll divide this question to two. One about gender inequality and the other one more about how different problems are connected to climate change. And so gender inequality is really becoming a more prominent issue in the climate justice or climate space because of the fact that most of the people who are being impacted by the climate crisis are women. Often most of the time these women who are being impacted, they're not given the opportunity to have a seat at the table or have the opportunity to contribute their own solutions or their own ideas.


0:28:58

A

Just as an example, we have seen with poverty the lack of water. It's really the women's job in some households in the global south to travel, to get water for the family. And because of the water loss, because of global warming, we are seeing that 2 million hour are spent each year by women traveling to and from to collect water for their family.


0:29:25

B

Gosh, that's just such. It's unfathomable, right, sitting somewhere in a developed country as to what people on the other side of the globe are even going to.


0:29:35

A

Yes, it's really devastating to read these shocking news and to realize how fortunate we are, but also how unfortunate it is that these people are not included in the conversation. And so we're seeing a shift in that. We are seeing that more women are starting to be offered to see at the table major global conferences. And at the same time there are now reparations for those people and those families, as we have seen with the adoption of the Loss and Damage Fund by Cop at Cop 27.


0:30:09

A

And so one of the things that as well, going back to gender inequality and how it's contributing to climate change is also because of the fact that sometimes girls are pulled out of school to go collect water for their families. And this is a direct link to the lack of education for girls. And so right now, what we need is everyone's ideas and everyone's perspectives to come together to essentially mitigate climate change.


0:30:37

A

Because the more diverse perspectives we have, the more diverse ideas we will have to solve this problem. And so climate change isn't just a one way sort of kind of issue. It's a global term that's really connected to many different paths. And if you go down one path, you'll meet this one certain problem that will be connected to this other problem. And so really, if we think about it, if we do solve, or if we do mitigate climate change, a lot of these other problems can be fixed. When we think of the term sustainability, for example, we also need to think of it as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, because that's what sustainability is, as I mentioned before, sort of like this equilibrium.


0:31:21

A

So it means sustainability in terms of education, sustainability in terms of our climate or ocean, but also it means sustainable cities. So essentially the UN sdg. And that's kind of how I would put it in perspective to gender inequality and how it's contributing to climate change. It's really about what you will feel connected to. What problem will resonate deeply with you? For me, a problem that really resonated deeply with me is the lack of sometimes of education in the climate awareness space, which led me to develop you or the change.


0:31:56

A

And another problem that really resonated and.


0:31:58

B

Also these workshops, right?


0:32:00

A

Yes, exactly. And another problem that really resonated with me was ocean pollution. So that's what led me to work on the biosurban, as mentioned. And so those were two main problems that I wanted to focus on. And that doesn't exactly need to apply to, let's say, you. It can be something else that you're interested in focusing on. And so I would say my biggest advice is if you don't know where to start, do the research, see what interests you the most, what problem you resonate with. And from there, see how you can, let's say, join an organization, how your own daily actions can solve this problem.


0:32:39

A

And then if you're really ambitious and you want to take it another step, see how, let's say you can design your own solution, whether that be an organization and innovation, let's say, adding your voice to sort of the topic. So a lot of the time in a few programs in Toronto, there are the opportunities for youth to go in and share their own ideas and their own perspectives and that are included in the final written report.


0:33:11

A

So let's say doing that to help. You as well, get your message out there, but also share your own perspectives.


0:33:20

B

So you have highlighted loud and clear the need to volunteer and also several of the forums that one can be involved in. So we can focus on specific problem areas that you highlighted there as well. And I think that can certainly get more and more influence going when it comes to a conversation around us. Right. And I'll be sure to include the link for people to participate in your efforts to volunteer with you.


0:33:50

B

That way, if no one knows a starting point, at least, I think there's something to go off of. I'm just hoping several of the organizations around the world, even youth efforts, you guys follow a connected approach, correct? There must be some conglomeration of efforts somewhere.


0:34:09

A

Yes, exactly. I think it's about teamwork, even though, let's say, my organization is an organization, let's say based in Toronto, but really, there are so many other organizations around the world who are fighting for a common goal. And I think that's really the beauty of teamwork is the fact that now we are seeing, I want to say, inspiration of youth around the world. So I was also really inspired by many other young people who are in the climate space.


0:34:38

A

I think that when you start sort of this initiative or you're involved with an initiative, other young people will see that, and then they will be inspired to do something similar. And that's really so important. But also, one of the really key things about joining these organizations or developing your own organization or being involved in the climate movement is the fact that you start to recognize that there is hope.


0:35:05

A

It's more about how our actions of today and tomorrow can lead to more hope. I think that we have reached significant milestones in 2022. So the adoption of the Loss and Damage Fund and so essentially what that is, is the G 20 countries actually represent about 75% of the global emissions, the global greenhouse gas emissions, essentially, at Cop 27. What the adoption of the Lost Damage Fund essentially did was to signify that there are developing countries or underdeveloped countries that are currently facing major impacts of the climate crisis.


0:35:51

A

So, going back on an example, pakistan has seen over $30 billion in damages from severe flooding in 2022, as we've read in the news. But significantly, actually, they emit less than 1% of the global emissions. We see that the G 20 countries are the ones who are emitting a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, but it's the fact that these countries who are not really emitting that much are the ones that are suffering because they are stationed in the global south as well.


0:36:26

A

And so I think what's really important is the fact that we are seeing change being taken. We are seeing action being taken, but it's not enough action just yet. In terms of nature. We have the 30 by 30 agreement at Cop 15, which is basically 30% protection of all our resources and the protection restoration of our land in terms of nature. And C needs to be done by 2030. And this is an incredible moment to restore all the harm that has been done in terms of biodiversity loss and nature loss, for example.


0:37:09

A

But this is also a time to realize that there is still more action that needs to be taken. And so one of the key highlights of being involved in these groups is that you get a sense of, I guess I want to call it fulfillment, that you're doing your part, you're trying to strive for a better sustainable future. And you're also advocating to ensure that the people in the power, the people who are contributing the most emissions, are also realizing that the need to act is now. And you're sort of pressuring them to have an impact.


0:37:49

B

Yeah, it's basically a role of creating awareness and then kind of more leadership outcomes, focusing on sustainability because that's what we need to do as youth and adults and just so we can have a better planet for the future. And what about all of your technology stuff, Sarah? Your project removing oil, heavy metals and organic compounds from water using your orange and pomegranate peels and all of that.


0:38:21

B

You have an aibased transparent rotating solar cell initiator IoT in agriculture to reduce water consumption, 3d printed biodegradable coffee pod. And then you're also focusing on the future of food and the room for growth there. So why don't you talk about all of your technology initiatives? I think we have finally come to your passion area where you are focusing your energy and contributing to this planet to address climate change, of course.


0:38:52

A

So I really am passionate about technology, most specifically in the nanotech material science and the AI space. And so a lot of those projects are actually projects that I'm working on right now. So, for example, the AI based rotating solar panel. And really what led me to work on this project was the fact that most solar panels today only have an efficiency of 22%. Yeah, and so really, I think that with nanotechnology, especially like graphene quantum dots or perovskites, we can increase this efficiency significantly.


0:39:27

A

So that's something that I'm working on. And as well, in terms of the biodegradable coffee pods, I actually worked in grade nine on a project to design a bidegradable plastic made from sort of again, peels, so banana peels and potato peels. And the key in making any biodegradable plastic is having this higher starch extraction rate. Essentially, what ended up happening was in this project I was able to design a small little prototype.


0:39:56

A

And so right now, what I'm trying to do is design a proposal to take this small prototype to a much larger opportunity, which is the 3d printing space, because the 3d printing space is only growing and it can really provide a lot of different opportunities. So one thing that I was really interested in is designing biodegradable coffee pods. Because sometimes when we go make coffee in our beautiful coffee machines, the coffee pods are not biodegradable. So they're made out of plastic.


0:40:30

A

And sometimes as well, that plastic, even though it is recyclable. A fun fact that I recently learned after doing a lot of research was that some stations, let's say wherever you're from, for example, in Toronto, some recycling plants in Toronto, they don't actually recycle that number of plastic. So let's say it's number five.


0:40:50

B

Yeah, I mean, a lot of times we end up throwing it with a regular garbage, right? I mean, like more as a rush aspect or convenience aspect or lack of a recycling mechanism or whatever that may be.


0:41:04

A

And so what's really important is to make sure that with this project, I want it to be biodegradable, so that this way there is no sort of eco negative impact. And so that's a project where I'm trying to design also like a 3d printable PLA, because PLA is a type of plastic as well. And if we can design a biodegradable 3d printable plastic, then this means that a lot of our items that we use every day can be made using a biodegradable plastic.


0:41:40

A

So that's one of the projects that I'm working on. And I'm also really interested in the future of food. So cellular agriculture, aquaponic farming, and all of that really interesting tech space in terms of our food system. So that's something that I'm learning more about, trying to see how I can incorporate my own ideas as well.


0:42:01

B

In that space right there, you have given people food for thought, a lot of people listening to focus on those areas relating to how we grow our food and what we do. How do you think the way we eat? How is it influencing whatever our planet is facing?


0:42:19

A

Sarah so, as I mentioned before, I'm really interested in this space right now. So I actually wrote an article on our current food systems for an organization that I volunteer for, green School's Green Future. And so, really shockingly, a lot of people don't sometimes spend a lot of time thinking about the food systems. But really, our food systems are a critical aspect of climate change. I want to share a few statistics that really were eye opening for me when I was writing this article.


0:42:52

A

And so one of the statistics that really led me to realize that we need to exponentially sort of see a shift in our food systems to eat a more sustainable way is the fact that meat and dairy production actually account for 83% of all agricultural land use. And as well, they're responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, which also include methane. And the really bad thing about methane is the fact that it's 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.


0:43:29

A

So this means that it can have a more significant impact in terms of our warming global temperatures and trapping heat in our atmosphere. So another really interesting fact about our current food systems, and this was really surprising to me, was the fact that for every 100% we give in, let's say to a cow, we give to a cow, we get back only 30%. So this is highly inefficient and it's one of the reasons why we also have a really inefficient food system.


0:44:03

A

There have been a few milestones that we have accomplished in order to tackle this problem, which have been the technology of cellular agriculture. But there is also the rise of non gmo organic produce and products. And as well aquaponic farming, which is also on the rise as well. Which is really great, because these new forms of technology are allowing people to lead a more sustainable lifestyle in terms of our food and the way that we consume food.

0:44:34

A

But at the same time, a lot of the times, sometimes it's unspoken about how pesticides are actually being used in other products or other produce. And so right now, when it comes to these new ways of technology, let's say aquaponic farming, pesticides are not being used. And that's a huge improvement because of the fact that sometimes these pesticides, they can land in different reservoirs, underground reservoirs of water, or sometimes they can seep into lakes or rivers. And this can have a detrimental impact on the biodiversity, let's say the fish living there.

0:45:15

A

That would be kind of more from a tech perspective, but from a more, I would say, personal approach. And let's say if you want to lead a better sustainable lifestyle through your food systems, sometimes trying to have a balanced diet or including more plant based options are solutions to have a more sustainable diet. But also something that is really significant that I think should be brought up a lot of the time is the fact that we do produce food waste.

0:45:46

A

And so what this means that most of the time food is sent over to landfills and it decomposes, which produces methane. And according to one article that I read, about 7% of greenhouse, sorry, of methane emissions actually comes from alone just our food waste that is produced globally. And so really, the solution to this is to buy what you need only and not really fall into the trap of consumerism, but to also include composting as a part of, let's say, your cooking journey.

0:46:24

A

So any scraps left can be put into a compost bin and that can be used to create a more nutrient rich soil, which can also help grow better organic food in the short term future as well. And so that's kind of what really led me to start using or start to look at how we can use food scraps to incorporate in our technology. Because pomegranate orange peels, they're often just thrown away almost, I think a million of these pomegranate orange peels are thrown each year.

0:46:59

A

But for me, I really like to see how we can take something that we consider as a throwaway item and see how we can upcycle it to create something that can be of value and can really help restore and design.

0:47:13

B

A different solution, reuse, regenerate, and just make the most of it. Right. Your role as a climate change activist innovator, but also a poet, you mentioned that as well. How do you have time to do so much? And what have you found to be the key to succeeding without facing a burnout type of situation?

0:47:36

A

Sarah so I think I want to say right off the bat that I don't think anyone goes into the climate space knowing that they are sort of going to become a climate activist. That was something that just sort of happened when I kind of got that. And so I think what you have to realize at first is that you should be doing this because you truly do care and that you want to have an impact. And really, that's how I started. I realized that I want to have an impact. I want to design solutions, but I also want to volunteer and be a part of that youth led movement. But I also want to incorporate my passions with this.

0:48:19

A

And so that's essentially what led me to this whole journey. And then one day, I was asked to speak at this conference, and I was labeled as a climate activist. So I was like, okay, well, that's interesting. I just want to say that right off the bat, because I think that going into this sort of journey, it's really about how you as an individual can have a difference and how you can be a changemaker.

0:48:47

A

Because at the end of the day, I think we all want to reflect back on the previous, like, five years, ten years, 20 years, and see the internal growth that we've had, but also the growth that we've been able to reflect on this planet and how we've been able to transform it into a better place.

0:49:06

B

And if you were to focus on the future outlook for us and say, hey, here is my plea to you, listeners, very minimally focus on these two or three things to start with. What would those be fair?

0:49:23

A

I want to circle back on your previous question, just to answer this question as well, because I think I do have, I think, two or three main points just to kind of conclude. Sure, okay, thank you so much. So the first would be in terms of finding the time and the balance. I think it's about having an agenda set up the best you can and really making sure that you're not kind of taking more on your plate than you can actually eat. I think that's maybe a term. And so managing your own schedule is something really important because I think everyone knows how much they can do and it really varies.

0:50:04

A

And I think that's one of the things that as an individual, you have to look at. But something that has really helped me tackle a lot of projects at once is the fact that you need to also set time each day to yourself. A lot of the time people think it's about, I'm going to work hard this entire month and I'm going to take a break next week. It shouldn't be like that because that way you will face burn.

0:50:27

A

And so it's about taking a break in between. But also another really important thing is consistency. And this leads to my second point, which is having a growth mindset. So consistency and persistence is really important, but there is a huge difference. You should continue to persevere it towards that goal, but at the same time you should be consistent. So let's say doing 1% each day versus 30% in one day and then leaving it for an entire week.

0:50:56

A

This could be, let's say, an example from my life. The projects that I've worked on. It was about doing a little bit each day, breaking it down. The first day I'm going to do research. The second day I'm going to try building prototype. One day two, I'm going to see how I can improve it. Something like that. And so it's really about going into the project or whatever work you're going into with a growth mindset and realizing that you can make a difference.

0:51:26

A

But it's not going to be easy right off the bat. It's going to take time. One of the best ways that I like to motivate myself, because I think self motivation is so important, is saying differentiating between success and failure. And so for me, success is really how willing I am to not get the result I'm looking for. And so let's say if you're innovating, you're developing your own organization. And let's say your first project or your first event, you had only 30 people sign up when you expected, let's say 50 you're in your organization.

0:52:01

A

So it's going to take time to get to where you want to be. But it's about persistence and networking teamwork. And then from there you can obviously get to where you want to be. And as I mentioned, I think previously, in a lot of different events with my projects, I reached out to a lot of people who have helped me. I networked, I asked help from my teacher. And so it's really about seeing how you can learn and improve, because you as an individual is not going to have all the answers.

0:52:35

A

But that doesn't need to limit you. You don't need to be the expert in the room to have an impact. It's really about how can I strive to learn more so I can have an impact and at the same time learn from other people who are the experts in that field, for example.

0:52:52

B

Sure. And what about the couple of things? Or say top three things you'll tell people to do minimally on a daily basis. Say I wake up, breathe, I brush my teeth, I get about my business. What is it that I should be focusing on to make for a better planet?

0:53:11

A

That actually leads into my third point. So it's great. That's our question, I think sort of the top three things I would say is to kind of look at big summaries, to do the research, choose a problem that you're really interested in looking even at. The UN sdgs is a really good place to start because they really break up what sustainability should mean at the end of the day, of what sustainability could look like in our future.

0:53:42

A

The second thing I would say is try incorporating your passion in whatever you would like to do. Join an organization if you don't know where to start yet, but really try to take another step beyond token actions. And third, do not get discouraged. Sometimes it can be really discouraging when we, let's say, see for example, promise is not being fulfilled by those who are in power. But I think about the fact that we need to continue persevering, because if not us, then really, who is going to make a difference on this planet? And so we really need to make sure that we are sort of collectively coming together, even though maybe not literally, since some of us are in different places around the world, at least metaphorically, and let's say through the youth organizations that we are seeing that we are sort of coming together, working towards this common goal. And so last bit of advice would be do not lose hope.

0:54:46

A

Really. We do have hope, but we can't just have hope. We need to accompany that hope with action. And so the best way to do that is to see how you can incorporate in your own life action, which will lead to hope.

0:55:00

B

Exactly. And that's very beautifully said, Sarah, but that's great from an advocacy standpoint. But like you said, what one can do in their own lives, would that mean, hey, grow your own vegetables? Would that mean eat more plants? Would that mean recycle more, focus on composting more? Or would it mean educating people more about it? What is it that one should do in their own daily life? Just so you know, at least at the very granular level, somebody can take small steps that will make big changes or that will contribute towards big changes.

0:55:37

A

So I think you really summarized it pretty well. There are many things people can do. It's really a huge list if you want to think about it. But I think you have to see what's feasible for you. So, for example, Toronto, or just in Canada in general is a very cold place. We do have snow at times.

0:56:00

B

Let'S.

0:56:00

A

Say having a garden, let's say growing your own vegetables may not exactly be feasible in wintertime unless you can afford a greenhouse. And so I think you have to look at what you can do from a personal standpoint and not really take a look at it from, let's say you can most definitely take inspiration from other people, but also see how that inspiration can reflect on your own life. So let's say if you are living in somewhere where there's a much more warmer climate, then maybe an opportunity could be to start your own garden, where you can grow your own produce.


0:56:36

A

But let's say for someone who lives in a more winter based climate, let's say over the winter there's a lot of snowfall, then maybe over the summer having a garden, but then throughout the winter, trying to do something else to try to minimize your impact. This could mean if you need to go to grocery shops, maybe trying to walk there instead of using a car, or let's say if you are going to use the car, then maybe try doing all the shopping at once and not keep going multiple times.

0:57:10

B

So make fewer stops than you normally would, because obviously in the wintertime, no one would prefer to walk, I guess at least combined trips, right? So that contributes to loss of environmental impasse.


0:57:26

A

This could also mean carpooling or maybe using public transit, if possible. It can mean a lot of different things, but it's really up to you how you want to do it. And then instead of just maybe leaving it to your own personal individual life, maybe try taking that change to your workplace. So maybe try to inspire your coworkers to use, let's say, a recyclable coffee cup, or to bring their own coffee.

0:57:54

B

Cup or a stainless steel water bottle.

0:57:58

A

And so I think it's really about sort of that encouragement and that awareness that needs to be brought towards this conversation. And also, I think since we're talking about workplaces, businesses as well, can provide an incentive. So, for example, specifically, toronto. Now you have to pay for, let's say, if you want a bag for your groceries, or let's say if you want a plastic bag. And so this really is pushing people to carry their own reusable bags with them whenever they go shopping for grocery items, because then this way they have their own reusable bag. And we're limiting as well plastic waste and waste in general.

0:58:44

A

And this way people are essentially reusing the same bag over and over to help in that shopping process. So there's a lot of things essentially I think it's about seeing what you can do. And if you don't know what you can do, I think googling Google has all the answers sometimes. And so really googling, how you can have an impact or small changes that you can make as an individual is something really important.

0:59:12

B

Fantastic. Yeah, it's been a few years at least. Sitting here in the Western world, we all say we are big into innovating this, innovating that, but then during my trips back to India several times I've noticed that there are no plastic bags. You either bring your own bag or you pay for a cloth bag and then the more you are required to pay, you start to remember and bring your own, right? So I think definitely things have changed and it's trending better and it's about time that the Western world starts to realize and all of us here need to do our part to preserving, protecting, conserving our climate and the planet.

0:59:54

B

So such a fascinating conversation, Sarah. I'll be sure to include the link so people can take advantage of your work and contribute with you. If there is anything else you would like to add here as part of your contact information, feel free to do so.

1:00:10

A

Okay, thank you so much. I will send my LinkedIn to vi as well, so if you're interested to reach out with any questions, please feel free to do that. And my website is also included on my LinkedIn page. So if you would like to take a look at the organizations that I'm a part of and maybe join a few as well, or maybe get inspiration on what type of organization that you would like to join as well, you are more than welcome to do so and that would pretty much be it.

1:00:41

B

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today, Sarah, and you have a wonderful new year and best in all your efforts. And just let's hope every one of us can join you in your journey and start our own journey in preserving this climate and our planet. Thank you so much. Sure listeners, as always. Follow the Podcast read the podcast subscribe from your podcast app of choice for free and leave a review and follow me on Instagram at YP Kumar for all things digital media and lifestyle.

1:01:21

B

Until next time with yet another interesting guest and yet another interesting topic. It's me Vai saying so long and wishes for a wonderful 2023.