Five Indian and four Indian American youth are among 17 winners of 2023 International Young Eco-Hero Award honored for their creative initiatives to tackle the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
Four Indian American winners honored by San Francisco based Action For Nature (AFN) are: Satvika Iyer from California, Rahul Vijayan and Anushka Godambe from Texas and Nitya Jakka from Illinois.
The five eco-warriors from India are: Eiha Dixit from Meerut, Manya Harsha from Bengaluru, Nirvaan Somany and Mannat Kaur from New Delhi and Karnav Rastogi from Mumbai.
The International Young Eco-Hero Awards honors global youth ages 8 to 16 whose work has had a significant impact on raising awareness of environmental issues and finding innovative solutions to tough environmental problems.
“From bustling metropolises to remote villages, these young luminaries are sparking a green revolution that knows no bounds,” said Beryl Kay, president of Action for Nature.
“Their ingenious projects are tangible, impactful solutions that are leaving indelible marks on their communities and the world.”
Since 2023, Action For Nature has recognized 339 Eco-Heroes from 27 countries and 32 US states.
The winners will present their work at a virtual event anchored in San Francisco on August 26 at 10 am PST live via Zoom Webinar.
Here are the winners:
First Place in (8-12 Year-old Category) Eiha Dixit – Age 9 – Meerut, India.
Since the age of four, Eiha has been growing saplings to protect the environment. Through the Green Eiha Smile Foundation, she and a group of volunteers have planted over 20,000 saplings, creating mini forests, parks, and green belts in her Indian city, providing shade and cleaner air.
Eiha also established a plant bank at her home, using plants donated by people who can no longer care for them. These plants are used to obtain cuttings and seeds, and other people may take these plants free of charge.
Second Place (8-12 Year-old Category) Manya Harsha – Age 12 – Bangalore, India.
Manya, a 12-year-old poet and writer, has embarked on a mission to raise awareness about environmental issues and climate action.
Through her books, blog, and YouTube channel, The Little Environmentalist, she aims to inspire youth to take action and become environmentally conscious.
Manya engages in various activities such as walkathons, planting saplings, distributing seed balls, and organizing clean-up drives to make a positive impact on the environment.
With over 5,000 sustainable bags distributed, 3,500 saplings planted, and 3,000 seed bombs thrown, she continues to work tirelessly to create a better future for the coming generations and to protect the earth for all.
Second Place (13-16 Year-old Category): Nirvaan Somani – Age 16 – New Delhi, India
Nirvaan founded Project Jeans to tackle the environmental impact of the fashion industry, specifically the waste caused by discarded denim, while also addressing the needs of the underprivileged.
He repurposes used jeans into washable and insulating sleeping bags for the homeless, reducing landfill waste and providing better protection from harsh weather conditions.
With 6,000 pairs of jeans collected and 800 sleeping bags distributed to date, Nirvaan’s initiative has made a positive impact on both the environment and the lives of those in need.
He has implemented H.O.P.E. in several schools, has collected 4,700 donated clothing articles and has provided free uniforms to more than 550 families.
READ: 3 Indian Americans earn honorable mentions, Indian teen places 2nd at Action For Nature awards (October 14, 2015)
Third Place (13-16 Year-old Category): Satvika Iyer – Age 15 – Milpitas, California, United States.
Satvika’s project aims to create a healthy and sustainable food system in schools by advocating for more plant-based nutrition and better waste management.
She successfully worked with various organizations and her school district to introduce a permanent plant-based menu with meat-free alternatives and salad bars.
Additionally, she lobbied Congress to include provisions promoting plant-based meals in the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act.
Satvika’s efforts have made a significant impact on school nutrition – her high school has already served more than 5,000 plant-based meals – and she plans to continue her work by helping other school districts implement sustainable food systems.
Third Place (13-16 Year-old Category): Mannat Kaur – Age 15 – New Delhi, India.
Mannat’s project aims to address water scarcity and carbon emissions associated with freshwater supply and wastewater treatment. Mannat has designed a system to collect, filter, and reuse greywater from households for non-potable purposes, thus conserving precious drinking water.
The impact of her invention goes beyond individual households, and could potentially save thousands of liters of fresh water daily and reduce operational and infrastructure costs for the city’s sewage treatment.
Karnav Rastogi – Age 13 – Mumbai, India
Karnav is committed to raising awareness about and taking action to reduce plastic waste and combat climate change. He wrote two books, “Kartik, Daddy & Plastic: A journey about beating plastic pollution” and “Kartik, Mixie & Monster: A journey about ocean pollution,” to educate young people about the impact of plastic pollution and climate change, providing solutions to tackle these issues.
To date, he has distributed 5,000 copies of his book, and has inspired countless young people to become champions of change.
Rahul Vijayan – Age 16 – Pearland, Texas, United States
Rahul founded Farm to Tray to improve access to fresh, green organic produce in schools in Houston and beyond by introducing on-site hydroponic farming, an efficient water-based gardening technique that works well in urban environments.
Rahul educates elementary and middle school students in his school district about sustainable gardening, and also provides them with microgreen kits for hands-on plant-growing experiences. Following its success in Texas, the project has already expanded to schools in California and New York.
Nitya Jakka – Age 16 – Naperville, Illinois, United States
Nitya, a passionate social and environmental activist, developed Terraclu, a website and sensor system that addresses the issue of food waste through better climate-controlled transportation and storage.
Terraclu predicts ethylene output levels of crops and recommends optimal temperature and humidity levels to ensure they are delivered at ideal ripeness while optimizing energy use. Nitya aims to move beyond the development phase and to bring Terraclu to market next year.
Anushka Godambe – Age 16 – Austin, Texas, United States
Anushka founded Plants in Classrooms to foster a love of gardening in K-12 students by teaching them to care for a classroom plant through practice, patience, and teamwork, as they grow a love for horticulture.
The 1,000 plants spread across Austin’s Eanes Independent School District are in traditional classrooms, administration and counseling offices, cafeterias, and school libraries.
Anushka aims to extend Plants in Classrooms to other neighboring school districts in the coming year.