She might be young, but 17-year-old Amanda Fellinge has big ideas for a more sustainable future. That’s why Amanda is this year’s youth winner for the Boeing and Trust for Public Land (TPL) Environmental Leadership Award. The award recognizes environmental volunteers in Arizona, California, Oregon, and/or Washington who have made positive impacts in their communities. The goal of the award is to honor people who work to create more environmentally resilient and equitable communities.
Amanda is from Bellevue, Washington. She designed and implemented a two-month-long series of virtual workshops and challenges to educate people about ways to be more environmentally minded. Her program is free and accessible to all.
As our youth winner, Amanda receives a $2,500 cash award for an environmental nonprofit of her choice.
We caught up with Amanda to learn more about the passion behind her project.
- What did you think when you learned you were selected as this year’s youth winner for the Boeing Environmental Leadership Award?
I was very surprised when I heard the news and excited that my project is having a greater impact than I ever expected. I was honored that the Girl Scouts of Western Washington nominated me. It’s wonderful to continue finding new ways to share my passion for helping our communities make collective changes.
- Why did you decide to create your virtual workshops?
I knew I wanted to create a program to make sustainable living and climate change information less daunting and more accessible. My idea for the virtual workshops was inspired by some virtual events I attended about recycling in my city, and I decided to create my own series of education events with a broader set of topics. I focused on material waste, renewable energy and energy consumption, food systems, and climate advocacy in a way that people could take something away from the events no matter where they lived. In support of the workshops, I also created challenges people could complete independently to practice forming sustainable living habits in each of the four categories, and a resource packet for each topic to make the information more accessible.
- What is the one thing you wanted people to take away from your workshops?
The biggest thing I wanted people to take away from my workshops is that living sustainably doesn’t have to be hard and that many people taking small actions have a greater impact than a few people taking large actions.
- When you look to the future, are there other things you’d like to accomplish when it comes to sustainability?
My goal for the future is to keep raising awareness about climate change and to reduce the overwhelm of “fixing” our planet enough to where people start taking action. When I head to college next year I plan to study chemistry and earth sciences so I can continue learning and finding new ways to help people make positive changes.
- Have you decided which nonprofit will get your $2,500 donation?
I’ve decided to give the donation to Our Children’s Trust, an environmental nonprofit working with youth plaintiffs on global legal efforts to hold governments accountable for their role in the climate crisis. I worked with one of the environmental litigators during my project and through other volunteer opportunities, and learning about how they are advocating for climate change through legal systems and giving a voice to young people is inspiring.
- Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would love to share a few easy action tips from each topic:
- Materials: Put a reusable bag/mug/bottle somewhere you will always have it
- Energy: Wash your laundry with cold water and hang dry your clothes
- Food: Create a “to-eat” bin in your fridge or pantry for nearly expired foods
- Advocacy: Research a specific climate change related topic via a documentary, book, or video.
You can learn more about Amanda’s ecofriendly challenges here: https://ecofriendlychallenges.com/advocacy/advocacy-tips-resources/