Monday 08 November 2021

Sustainable Environment Citizen Of The Year

Year 8 student Hansikaa combines her life as a student with a passion for the environment and a drive to take action and bring about change in her local community and beyond. Hansikaa has spearheaded many projects from advocating and inspiring the school community about the importance of Earth Hour and National Water Week to creating a litter clean-up group and promoting the banning of helium balloons and palm oil. Recently her hard work was recognised when she was awarded the prestigious Sustainable Environment Citizen of the year 2021 Award by the Whittlesea Council.

The award came as no surprise to her science teacher Mrs Yeats. “It is of no surprise to me that Hansikaa has achieved this most prestigious award. Her passion and dedication to local environmental causes has been a source of inspiration to her peers and teachers alike. She is a reflective and collaborative learner, with a strong moral compass, that challenges concepts in my science class frequently. What I strive for all in all my students,” she said.

We are delighted that Hansikaa was able to take time out from her busy schedule to answer some questions, giving us an insight into how she became interested in environmental issues, some of the work she has been involved in and her advice for other young people who want to become involved.

When did you first become interested in the environment?

I first became interested in the environment in Year 2 after going to a local lake and seeing all the rubbish. I wondered where all the rubbish had come from and my research made me scared for my future, so I decided to take some action to save it.

Can you tell me about some of the initiatives you have started and been involved with?

In 2018, I started a campaign to ban the use of helium balloons on council grounds, acquiring more than 450 signatures. I recently found out that the council took my proposal one step further and has banned the use of all balloons on their grounds. In this past year, I have started a congress partnered with Ozgreen, which aimed to empower young people to create solutions for environmental problems.

What did it feel like to receive the Sustainable Environment Citizen of the year 2021 Award?

When I heard that I had received the award, I was momentarily surprised, but then was ecstatic that I had gotten it. I didn’t expect to receive the award, because there were eight other, older, well-deserving contestants.

Who are your biggest influences?

My biggest influences are my brother and mother because of the endless support and guidance that they give me.

Who do you admire and look up to?

I look up to Emma Watson. As well as acting as the fictional character Hermione, she is a woman’s rights goodwill ambassador and an advocator for the environment. Using her popularity not only make a profit but to spread the word that what we do to the Earth is permanent. She launched a sustainable clothing line, and only wears sustainable clothing in public. After fans heard about Emma Watson’s choice of clothing, there was a trend in sustainable fashion.

What do you think is the single most important issue facing the world today?

I think that the single most important issue facing the world today is climate change. I believe that we cannot wait to come up with a solution, it is not a thing we can just hand off to future generations, “its your problem now.” The threat we face is real, and it is harmful.

What advice would you give a young person wanting to do something to help the environment but not knowing where to start?

I would say that no contribution is too small. The environment is too big a place for one person to ‘fix’ it. It is the small things when together that really makes a difference. So choose something that you are passionate about, and care deeply for, and no matter how big or small, the environment will thank you.

What advice would you give to the world’s leaders in Glasgow at COP26 who are currently grappling with how to reduce the number of harmful greenhouse gasses produced by 2050 and increase renewable types of energy like wind, solar and wave power?

I would advise them that their decisions aren’t just affecting them, every decision they make, affects the world, not just today, but forever.