By Purva Bommireddy
Activist Purva Bommireddy on how being born into a world of broken promises and inaction on the environment has led her and her generation to challenge norms, demand change, and ultimately shape history.
I have loved the environment for my entire life. My first memories are among nature, from climbing trees to spending time at a butterfly conservatory. I was very aware of the wonders of nature since a very young age, and it opened my eyes to the intricate beauty of biodiversity. It was at the age of 11 that I knew that I needed to take action, as I scoured magazines, online articles, and books to discover that humans were destroying the harmony of life on Earth. From deforestation and air pollution to single-use plastics and coral bleaching, words swarmed around in my head, making me miserable that there was not much action being taken to combat these issues. Environmentalists were being seen as an exclusive group to the rest of society and it was frustrating to see that caring about the planet was not the norm. In essence, very few people seemed to be aware of the immense, interconnected issues that our world was facing.
. . . it was frustrating to see that caring about the planet was not the norm.
That realization was a turning point for me, and I knew that I had to take action. I started in the place almost all of us have access to: the internet. I searched for ways to get involved and make a difference, and immersed myself in small campaigns. It didn’t seem huge, but it felt like my voice mattered. Today, I lead Bye Bye Plastic Bags New Jersey and have become part of a global movement to ban single-use plastic bags and more importantly, spread awareness about environmental issues. We organize events and presentations, work on state-wide and local campaigns to fight plastic pollution, and empower youth to be changemakers. I still have so many ideas, thoughts, and plans waiting to be put into action, and hope to engage more young people in activism. Getting involved in environmental advocacy has been the most rewarding and fulfilling decision of my life. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.
Getting involved in environmental advocacy has been the most rewarding and fulfilling decision of my life.
Many people outside of our generation see activism as a choice. However, for young people, being born into a world filled with false hopes and inaction means that activism has become a necessity. Being surrounded by youth activists who are encouraging me, uplifting one another, and sharing their unique but powerful ideas has been incredibly empowering.
I’m always learning and growing from other youth . . .
I’m always learning and growing from other youth, and their stories continue to inspire me. Being born in this generation, I’m proud to see that we aren’t accepting the state of the world that has been passed down to us. We are trailblazers that are shifting norms, shaping history, and demanding the change we need to see.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Purva Bommireddy is a 16-year-old high school junior with a passion for the intersection of engineering, activism, and creativity. She is the founder and leader of Bye Bye Plastic Bags New Jersey, a non-profit organization aiming to elevate the youth voice for action against single-use plastic bags. She is also Co-coordinator for the New Jersey Student Sustainability Coalition’s Plastics Campaign and is an active Greenpeace USA volunteer. When Purva is not immersed in environmental advocacy, she is writing poetry, singing, curled up with a book, or innovating for a sustainable future.