Each year, the SASSA in the Classroom program has the opportunity to engage K-12 students with hand-on activities that illustrate socially and scientifically complex ideas. During the 2018-2019 school year, student Audrey Kormann participated in two of our modules through our classroom program, one which illustrated the environmental and logistical effects of flooding and another which simulated the challenges people face when natural disasters strike. Inspired by these activities, and wanting to do something to combat climate change, she created earth.hacks, an Instagram account dedicated to showing people how to make small changes to help the environment. We had a chance to talk with her a little more about her initiative.
What motivated you to start your Instagram account, earth.hacks? How did you come up with the initial idea?
“I was motivated to start this account last year in my science class when we did a ‘20 Time’ project. For this project we had 20 minutes a day to work on whatever topic you want. During this time, I had been researching a ton about the environment and all the bad things happening to our earth. I really wanted to inspire other people and give them EASY ways to make the earth a cleaner place for all of us. I know a lot of teenagers don’t care a lot or know a lot about the environment because they have so many other things they’re juggling in their life like homework, sports, and clubs. This is why I wanted to use Instagram as a platform to spread the word [check out earth.hacks here]. Many people my age constantly are checking their Instagram feed. I wanted to make videos that caught their attention and weren’t super long. This is when I had the idea for handwriting fun and colorful videos on a whiteboard. They are super enjoyable for me to make, and many of my followers enjoy watching them! I hope this account will continue to gain viewers and inspire many people to make an easy, but impactful change in their everyday life. There may be a bit of remodeling and some surprises coming to my account in the future, so stay tuned!”
Tell us about your hashtag #startwithastraw? Why was this meaningful to you?
“I made up the hashtag “#startwithastraw” last Earth Day. I was trying to think of something super easy people could commit to. Plastic straws had been getting a lot of attention in the media. I was seeing sad pictures of turtles with straws stuck up their noses. I learned about many alternatives to single use straws and how easy it would be to bring a bamboo, metal, or glass straw with you to restaurants or in your bag. So for Earth Day I did a special earth.hacks video giving facts about the effects of plastic straws on wildlife, and I encouraged people to post pictures of them using straw alternatives using my hashtag. My friends and I even did a presentation about the effects of plastic to our science class. We decided to pass out metal straws to everyone at the end. We thought sometimes people hear about the solutions, but they don’t act on them. We wanted to provide them with the resources to accomplish the things we were telling them. Their faces when they received the straws made me feel so amazing. Many of them said they were going to use it all the time. That small act empowered me and made me feel like my work was doing something. This is also why I’m going to be starting a business in the near future selling beeswax wraps. I want people to have the resources to act on the things I tell them to do on my account. People don’t want to take much time out of their lives to think about this stuff. If they already have the supplies, they won’t have to think about doing them. It will become a habit.”
What has been the response to your ideas? Are people changing their lifestyles?
“I see many people being influenced by my videos, or just by me using a product I mentioned in one of my earth.hacks videos. For example, I will wrap a sandwich in a reusable Ziplock bag or beeswax wrap and people will tell me how cool it is or where they can buy them. It makes me smile knowing people are noticing the choices I’m making. Other things people have noticed are my glass jars I pack my lunch in and my biodegradable phone case. I’ve also convinced many people to eat a more plant based diet! It’s crazy how much your voice has the power to make a change in the community. I encourage everyone to try some of my earth hacks and just by you doing those things in other people’s presence, you will rub off on them. The biggest threat to the climate crisis is people thinking that someone else will solve the problem. We all need to work together and know EVERYONE can make a difference. Some things I’ve done this year is I’ve started a Green Club at my school, I’ve gone vegan, I’ve been to a climate strike, and I went to my old school and taught the kids about climate change. There are countless actions to be taken, and we all have the power to do something. You got this! You can inspire others too!”
Thank you, Audrey! Your initiative is really inspiring and creative! We look forward to seeing new videos soon!