Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Running alongside a young, cheerful, orange tiger through a forest filled with colorful trees was a regular Friday morning for my 11-year-old self. No, this wasn’t real life nor was it a product of my imagination. This was my creative stage on Scratch, an intuitive coding tool that allowed me to create my own landscape. Although the possibilities of nature in the tech universe were endless, our reality wasn’t as pleasant as the scene I painted with my mouse. The environment was in desperate need of help.
As world citizens, we are no strangers to climate change, global warming, or other environmental catastrophes. Yet, these issues are not deemed important by our world leaders. Humans are on the verge of exhausting the Earth’s natural resources. We are destroying biospheres for the purposes of political and economic industrialization and urbanization without deliberating the consequences. When I began understanding the impact of my seemingly small daily actions— like throwing away waste materials that can be reused or recycled—I was baffled. I hadn’t truly accounted for the greater picture. I realized there must be a change, and sustainability was the key to this endless nightmare. Working towards this goal at a personal level helped me realize that individual action influences collective action.
Over the years, I’ve participated in a number of environmental initiatives, including cleanup campaigns at local beaches and parks; tree-planting drives; newspaper recycling drives; and Earth Hours—an hour when millions of people around the world turn off non-essential lights to raise awareness of the environmental issues we face and commit to a more sustainable lifestyle. In middle school, I joined the Emirates Environmental Group, a local group devoted to protecting the environment, and began advocating for the environment through art and various action programs. However, there was always more that I could do, more that I felt I, as an individual, could contribute to.
Code Green is an app that I developed to help instigate grassroots change in the community for a larger impact. The progressive web app, currently in its beta stage, is aimed at educating and promoting the theory and practicality of sustainability. Learning about current affairs and ways to reverse the detrimental effects on our environment can play a key role in building a better society. The app acts as a pocket content library where one can find the latest updates, tips, and a variety of perspectives on the issues we face today, giving users a one-of-a-kind platform for all things sustainability. “An initiative like this will no doubt expand what students know about sustainability and inspire action to help address these problems,” explained one initial user. Code Green helps nurture young minds and encourages them to create an environmentally sustainable future because change begins with us.
The rate at which we destroy the Earth is far more than the rate at which we compensate for the loss. We must further our GREEN GROWTH INDICATORS and make drastic changes if we want future generations to live without being forced to deal with the consequences of our mistakes. No individual can bend the carbon emissions curve alone. No writer, no wildland firefighter, no environmental lawyer can save the day. No single coral restoration program will heal the wounds inflicted on reefs around the world. We must fight this—together.
As Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan once said, “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.” Often more than not, all of us consider ourselves as passengers when it comes to climate change. But we are the steering crew of our future. It’s now or never. At this point, all of us must be doing something to provide for Mother Earth. The youth are society’s main catalyst for environmental change and the future of sustainability lies in our hands.
Sravya is a 17-year-old high school senior based in Dubai, UAE who is passionate about technology, design, and the environment. She is the Co-Chair of the Girl Up Arts Club, an official Club on Girl Up’s online Community platform, and is an active participant at Girl Up’s STEM Innovation Lab and STEM Bootcamps. She is working towards bridging the gender gap in STEM and has worked with Reinvented Magazine, Codenovate, Greenlight4Girls, among other organizations. Her app, Code Green, won 2nd place at Bee’ah’s Environmental Excellence School Award for Best Environmental Mobile Application in 2021 and she is currently working with Hershey’s Heartwarming Project to publish the app on the App Store. Sravya is also the founder of The Merakil Project – a Dubai-based community campaign that established the “Thank You Heroes” drive to give back to frontline workers during COVID-19.