Meet the environmentalists who are fighting for a more sustainable future

The climate crisis is a global issue affecting pretty much all living things on Earth. 

These five environmentalists are coming up with creative ways to do their part to protect our oceans, combat pollution and make sustainable living accessible.

Taylor Lane

Lane is a California industrial designer who invented the “ciggy board.” The surfboard made of cigarettes is more than a novel idea, however. Roughly 1.7 billion pounds are found in lakes, oceans and beaches around the world every year.

Lane made a project out of collecting cigarettes from the beach and transforming into an official Cigarette Surfboard.

“We take this negative thing that came from the beach and then you turn it into a positive thing that’s back at the beach. The board, it’s not a solution to the problem,” Lane told In The Know. “It’s to show that this is something that we should talk about and then it becomes, ‘What can we do?’”

Ethan Novek

Novek is the 21-year-old chemist and founder of Innovator Energy, which aims to improve the global standard of living by decreasing the use of resources and pollution. 

“I envision a world where everyone has a high standard of living,” Novek said. “But I also envision a world where there’s no more primary resource extraction. There’s no more emissions and there’s no more waste.” 

The McMullen siblings

Samuel and Lydia McMullen are a brother and sister duo making zero waste living look easy. The siblings have only produced 20 pounds of waste in four years — compare that to the average American who produces 4.51 pounds each day.

“We were in China, actually, researching air pollution together,” Lydia told In The Know. “And we started to kind of think about where this air pollution was coming from and a big part of it is coming from production.” 

Samuel and Lydia decided to challenge themselves to accumulate as little trash as possible by making changes like using less packaging and single-use items. 

Saba Gray

Gray is the CEO and founder of BioGlitz, a company that makes biodegradable, compostable glitter. Most glitter is made of microplastics that damage the environment and harm our water reserves

“Glitter is powerful, it draws people in, it sparks conversation,” Gray said. “I thought if it’s connecting us this beautifully as humans but it’s hurting the environment, then it’s not helping anyone at all.” 

Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern

Teicher and Halpern are co-founders of Coral Vita, which they started to stop coral reef depletion. The company grows its own corals and transports them to vulnerable reefs. 

“We just launched the world’s first commercial land-based coral farm to restore dying reefs,” Teicher told In The Know. “Coral reefs are one of the cornerstone ecosystems that makes the ocean work.” 

Teicher and Helpern founded the company while attending grad school at Yale. 

“When I think about what the future can be. I envision a healthy planet, a prosperous society, mind-blowing beautiful wondrous ocean life,” Teicher said. “And that’s actually the future I still have faith in.” 

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