Ella Grace, age 11, is Helping to SAVE the Environment

Ella Grace, age 11, is Helping to SAVE the Environment

I read a story about a girl named Ella Grace, age 11, from Ajax, Ontario and I was instantly inspired and wanted to share it with you. Ella and her friend Cash Daniels, age 11, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, are helping to save the environment and clean up our ocean’s in a big way. Ella and Cash created ‘The Cleanup Kids’ initiative which aims to educate children about the environment and inspire them to help protect it. 

For their efforts, Ella and Cash have been awarded the 2021 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. They were chosen for the award because of their tremendous initiatives to help save the environment and what they are doing to inspire others to pitch in. 

I had the opportunity to interview Ella, please read our conversation below. Thanks for checking it out!

Q: Ella, first off I commend you for your work in helping to save the environment. When did you become interested in the environment and how did you get started?

A: Thank you! Protecting the environment has always been something that I have just known I wanted to do. As long as I can remember I have been amazed by the ocean and all of it’s creatures. As I started to learn about the threats to our wildlife I decided I wanted to help protect them as much as I could. I started doing shoreline cleanups, and speaking out against plastic pollution anywhere and everywhere I could. That naturally just progressed into the work I am doing now.

Q: I’ve read that you are passionate about reducing plastic pollution in oceans. What do we need to do in North America and across the world to help?

A: It’s true! Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to the planet. Cleaning up plastic from our waterways or shorelines is great, because it will help protect animals that could ingest or become entangled in the plastic, but truthfully it doesn’t address the main problem. The biggest thing we can do in North America, or anywhere, is STOP using plastic. Make an extra effort to buy things in glass, or paper or aluminium. These are all materials that can be endlessly recycled, where as plastic, IF it is actually recycled (which less than 10% of plastic actually is) can only be recycled a couple times before it isn’t able to be remade into other products again. If we stop buying the plastic, we eliminate an entire step of having to clean it out of our waterways, or having to worry about where it goes.

Q: Monofilament receptacles are places for fishermen to properly dispose of fishing line. Why is this so important for marine life and how can anyone reading this article help you? 

A:  Monofilament receptacles are containers that are placed along the shoreline in areas where fishing is popular. The idea is that instead of the fishing line blowing away and ending up in the water where animals can and do get trapped in it, it is tucked safely into the receptacle where it is then collected and disposed of in a safe way. Anyone who is reading this article and goes fishing can take extra care to make sure their fishing line doesn’t blow away. If anyone is interested in sponsoring a receptacle to be placed along a waterway they can also send us an email to hello@thecleanupkids.org

Q: What is the ‘Ocean Heroes Bootcamp’ and how did it help your journey?

A:  Ocean Heroes Bootcamp is a program for kids that is run by Lonely Whale and Captain Planet Foundation. At the bootcamp, kids from all over the world come together to discuss our ideas on how we as youth can help protect the oceans, and inspire other people to want to do the same. Ocean Heroes Bootcamp really helped me because I was able to meet other kids who were like me. It made me realize that there are lots of other kids who care about the planet too.

Q: You regularly create conservation videos and speak at schools about your environmental mission. What do you say to kids (and adults) to inspire them to pitch-in to your cause?

A: The thing that I say most often to other kids and adults is “You are never too old, or too young to get involved. Every little bit of action adds up to make big changes” I really believe that people want to help, but just honestly don’t know where to start. It is overwhelming. I always suggest trying one new thing. Maybe decide your family is going to give up plastic bags, or straws, or single use water bottles. Once that becomes a habit and you do it without even thinking about it, add another thing. You would be surprised how one little action will get noticed and inspire others to join in!

Q: If you could sit down with the World’s leaders to discuss saving the environment, what would you say?

A: Oh boy!! That would be my dream. I would have a very stern talk with them. I would tell them that they need to stop with the talk about “doing more”, and ACTUALLY DO MORE! Talking about banning single use plastics, or lowering carbon emissions, or increasing green energy doesn’t create any ACTUAL change. My generation is the generation that is going to suffer the consequences of the lack of action taken by the current world leaders. The whole point is to try and stop this crisis before we reach a point that we are past being able to stop it. Sadly, that point isn’t far off. The next 10 years are said to be the most important in terms of deciding what our future, and the lives of future generations will look like. That is a big responsibility, and I would tell them that if they aren’t up to the job, stand aside for someone who is!

Q: You have already done so much for the environment and you are only 11! What is next for Ella? What type of environmental goals do you have for the future?

A: I don’t feel like I have done so much, I feel like I care a lot, and for me taking care of the environment is a small price to pay for living on this beautiful planet. The next projects I have coming up are all based around the current Climate Crisis. I am involved in a really amazing film that is going to show the whole picture of what is happening to our coral reefs, and why EVERY single person on earth is affected by this, regardless of if you live near an ocean or not. This film will show the devastation of coral bleaching due to climate change, but it will also give hope that if the world pays attention that there are ways to stop this in its tracks. I will be learning something called Coral Gardening with one of the World’s top coral scientists, Dr. Kirby. I can’t wait! For the future my goals are to be an active voice in creating real change towards the way we look at our planet. I hope I can be a part of the movement that shows people that our planet isn’t an ever renewing resource if we don’t take care of it.  I think I would like to go into underwater filmmaking. The impact that nature and environmental shows have had on me has been huge. I hope I can do that for the next generation so they realize how important activism is, and how truly ANYONE can do it!

Q: What can we start doing today in our own homes to help save the environment? 

A: The single biggest thing anyone and everyone can start doing in their home today is to reduce the amount of meat they eat. I know it isn’t what people want to hear, but it is the truth. By increasing the amount of plant based foods you eat you are able to make a massive impact on the amount of carbon emissions you are personally contributing. I think a lot of people get put off because they think it is all or nothing. It doesn't have to be. Again, start small. Maybe that means picking one or two nights a week that your family doesn’t eat meat. You will be surprised how easy it is to substitute meat for plants.  If anyone wants some suggestions on amazing plant based recipes and cooks to follow, just send us an email or message on instagram!

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