Young people across Los Angeles are taking action today to address climate change and build a better future for their communities. Below you can find out about the work they are doing and learn how you can make a difference. 

Trash, Recycling, and Composting Improvement Program

High school senior Delaney Michaelson implemented a trash, recycling, and composting program at her high school. She partnered with the trash dispensary Athens, reorganized the bins, and photoshopped signs for each receptacle. Working with her school administration, she coordinated all-school meetings to educate the community on how to properly sort their trash to create the most effective system for campus. Her school repurposed the preexisting bins by painting the border of each universal color (black, blue, and green), so individuals can see from afar where bins are located. More information.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Address and identify a problem.
  2. Create a board of students and faculty to create a plan and address the solution.
  3. Identify whether your school already has separate trash, recycling, and composting bins.
  4. Research information on the benefits of implementing all three programs for your specific school.
  5. Find your trash provider. 
  6. Survey the student population and ask for their feedback on the potential change.
  7. Set up a meeting to provide school administrators with a comprehensive report and show student support. Always conclude the report with the environmental benefits through an economic and life-saving lens. 
  8. Develop an educational curriculum to educate students on how to properly sort trash, recycling, and composting with these presentations.
  9. Follow through to ensure the implementation is complete. 
  10. Send a survey to the student population to get feedback on the new system.

Creating a Circular Economy at School

Every year at Marlborough School, the administration and students create a book share and shop and swap for students to donate items for youth to reuse the next school year. During Earth Week, students and faculty donate clothes their families do not wear and get one point per item. With the collected points, students can take as many items as they want and pay for the rest if they run out of points. The shop and swap occurs for half a school day and the entire community participates. The book swap occurs on the last day of school when each student brings all of their class books. On folding tables, each grade gets one table to organize all of the books by subject and grade. The students can come and take the books they need for the upcoming school year. This program saves money and is good for the environment as fewer books are being bought. The program guarantees a circular economy as all books and other materials not purchased are donated to a local charity that the school works with closely. 

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Address and identify a problem.
  2. Create a board of students and faculty willing to create a plan and initiate the solution.
  3. Survey the student population and ask for their feedback on the potential change.
  4. Provide school administrators with a comprehensive report that shows student support. Always conclude the report with the environmental benefits through an economic and life-saving lens.
    • Materials: Folding tables and clothing rack for all donated products to be displayed.
  5. Choose a day to open the event and allow for a week in advance to collect materials from students. 
  6. Create advertisements to spread around campus to ensure the event is known and attended. 
  7. After the event, donate the rest of the materials to a local charity that the school works with to build on the established relationship. 
  8. Send a survey to the student population to get feedback for the next year. 

Professional Clothing Drive

Briana Carbajal, college junior and Director of the Bunche Committee, partnered with the Good Clothes, Good People Organization, a clothing donation and distribution center on the UCLA campus to create a professional clothing drive event for the Alumni Scholars Club (ASC). 

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Many incoming students lack professional attire and when it comes to making first impressions, the way you present yourself for a job interview says a lot about you. To alleviate the financial pressures on students paying for a new wardrobe, Briana created a drive for the members of ASC, a club that hosts important networking opportunities that often requires business casual attire. In collecting donations for the drive, she sent out a beacon for help to their Facebook alumni pages.

From those social media posts, the Committee received hundreds of articles of clothing. They ordered clothing racks and hangers and sorted through the pile to make sure everything was appropriate for the event. Finally, when everything was set up, students were invited to collect outfits that they felt best fit their style. The result was that students were highly grateful for the opportunity to receive free clothes at a convenient location. The Committee was able to make sure the clothes were reused by those who needed them rather than going to a landfill. 

One issue was that the donations tended to be on the smaller size or were women’s apparel, limiting the inclusivity of this event. Addressing that might require a longer donation collection period or more active recruitment of men’s apparel and larger sizes. On the positive side, many people were able to benefit from the clothing options provided and used them in their daily professional lives. 
 

Addressing Food Waste at School

The Youth Activism Club (YAC) at Alliance Environmental Science and Technology High School took on the issue of food waste on campus. In one of the weekly meetings for YAC, the conversation of food waste and its negative impacts on the environment was raised. This club wanted to figure out a solution to an issue that many schools face throughout the district. Every year the United States spends over $220 billion growing, transporting, and processing 70 million tons of food that ends up going to waste. LA Unified throws away an average of one ton of food per school every week. You might be asking yourself if one school can solve this issue. When multiple schools start implementing a food recovery program on their campuses, we can address this issue together.

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Many incoming students lack professional attire and when it comes to making first impressions, the way you present yourself for a job interview says a lot about you. To alleviate the financial pressures on students paying for a new wardrobe, Briana created a drive for the members of ASC, a club that hosts important networking opportunities that often requires business casual attire. In collecting donations for the drive, she sent out a beacon for help to their Facebook alumni pages.

From those social media posts, the Committee received hundreds of articles of clothing. They ordered clothing racks and hangers and sorted through the pile to make sure everything was appropriate for the event. Finally, when everything was set up, students were invited to collect outfits that they felt best fit their style. The result was that students were highly grateful for the opportunity to receive free clothes at a convenient location. The Committee was able to make sure the clothes were reused by those who needed them rather than going to a landfill. 

One issue was that the donations tended to be on the smaller size or were women’s apparel, limiting the inclusivity of this event. Addressing that might require a longer donation collection period or more active recruitment of men’s apparel and larger sizes. On the positive side, many people were able to benefit from the clothing options provided and used them in their daily professional lives. 

Step By Step Guide

  1. Identify a team interested in developing a shared table.
  2. Create a shared table proposal for school administrator approval including information on where the table is set up, types of food accepted, individuals manning the table, organizations that will receive the food, and the benefits of the program.
  3. Advertise and educate the community on the benefits so everyone participates. 

Setting Up Recycling Bins at School

Recycling, if done correctly, is one of the easiest ways to take steps in making any public space more sustainable. John Marshall High School had only trash bins, and that meant that all used paper, plastic bottles, cans, cardboard, etc. were being thrown in the trash. Two Juniors at the school decided to work on adding recycling bins to the campus.

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Their club, Sunrise (a climate justice club affiliated with Sunrise Movement), contacted LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner, asking him how to purchase recycling bins for the campus. They emailed several times and met to discuss the implementation of recycling at the school. He told them that all LAUSD schools will receive four large bins and small bins in every classroom free of charge from Republic, the recycling company. So, they contacted Republic and met with their school Plant Manager, a representative from Republic, as well as a representative from Mr. Beutner’s office, and together they finalized the plan. The next step was deciding on the location of the bins, when Republic would collect the trash, and how the Plant Manager and janitorial staff would regulate recycling. Finally, to ensure that students are recycling properly the Sunrise club launched a recycling campaign at school to educate the students. Getting feedback from students and faculty is critical to ensuring success in any project. 

Step By Step Guide

  1. Reach out to the school principal about getting recycling bins. If they are able to provide you with them, you will be ready to start implementing them at your school and you can skip step 3.
  2. If the principal is unable to provide you recycling bins, reach out to the school district superintendent (this may take sending many emails). Always read about the district policies on recycling, because many districts are required to give recycling bins if you ask. Here is information about campus recycling from LAUSD. 
  3. Now that you have your recycling bins, you need to make sure implementation at your school is successful. Start by educating yourself and everyone working on this project.
  4. Now it is time to educate your peers about recycling. You can create posters, give an assembly, have a club meeting about it, create lesson plans to give to teachers so they can educate their students or use social media. 

Creation of a Climate-Focused Non-Profit

Members of the 2019-2020 Mayor’s Youth Council for Climate Action along with other activists founded the youth international nonprofit One Up Action (OUA). This youth-led nonprofit supports marginalized youth combating the climate crisis by providing them with resources to make their scientific climate solutions a reality and take direct action in their communities. To achieve their goals, they use a two-pronged approach: (1) mobilize youth in hyper-local climate actions, and (2) distribute micro-grants to young POC working on science and/or technological solutions. OUA's core values lie in the strength of the community, serving the greater good, inclusion, and equity for all. To execute these values, they focus on providing underserved neighborhoods with resources, funding, and support to start their own chapters. The chapters are encouraged to implement projects to increase sustainability/conservation.

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The key to initiating a youth nonprofit is mobilizing a team of dedicated individuals ready to commit time and make compromises. Visions come together through a collection of voices and perspectives from across the region. Building a team and establishing a solid foundation through messaging, outreach, structure, and goals creates a path to success and gives the team a clear understanding of the organization’s trajectory. 

One Up Action is a perfect example of how to run an organization based on equity and inclusion. If you want to start an organization, contact delaney@oneupaction.org or visit oneupation.org to learn more about becoming a leader and implementing change. 

Step By Step Guide

  1. Identify a problem.
  2. Create a board of students and mentors willing to create a plan and initiate the solution.
  3. Work with individuals who have developed nonprofits and other organizations to receive advice throughout the process. 
  4. Create a clear outline and mission that distinguishes the group from other nonprofits. 
  5. Fill out the required materials to establish the group as a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4). 
  6. Promote your group through social media and the development of a website to ensure the greater community uses your platform and resources.