Voteless Not Voiceless: Youth Speak Out for the Blue Planet

“Voteless” youth (ages 13-17) from across the U.S. shared their stories about environmental issues and solutions to inspire voters to cast 2020 ballots with the future of our blue planet in mind. Even though they can’t yet vote, young people can shift the hearts and minds of those who can. By raising our voices together, we can build a healthier and safer future for our families, friends, and communities, and for our blue planet.

Voteless Not Voiceless is a non-partisan project of Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we engage in activities that raise awareness of environmental issues that impact young people. We do not endorse, oppose, or campaign for specific candidates.

Youth Stories

Ashley P., 16, New Jersey

Schuyler J., 17, California

Demetri S., 16, Florida

Ryan L., 14, Massachusetts

As a runner, I’m in nature a lot. It’s sad to run through parks or by water and see trash littered in them. My hope is that we as a community can clean up the world by joining together—when people unite for a common cause, they can accomplish amazing things. Remember that having the right to vote is a great power, and you should use it to protect our planet. I’m only 14, so I can’t vote, but you can.

Jessica L., 15, California

I would always see the clear blue water shimmering with an almost fairy tale-like sparkle whenever we passed by the lake in our car. The first time we visited the lake, the mirage of beauty quickly faded. The waters had receded to half its original size and were an eddying brown; trash littered the shores. It may be too late for this lake and its ecosystem within, but it is not too late for us, as a community, to step up to global warming and harmful human activities to preserve the nature around us, such as these precious blue lakes. The first step to a better world is choosing a leader who wishes to maintain the sanctity of our blue planet as much as we do. I am still young, so I can’t vote, but you can.

Tara P., 14, Maryland

Rose T., 16, Maryland

Maryland is among the states most vulnerable to climate change—rising sea levels, along with increased storm intensity, have devastating and far-reaching environmental and economic impacts on Chesapeake Bay and the quality of life for Marylanders. Everywhere, we face an increased risk of flooding and significant property damage as a result of more precipitation and other extreme weather events. I am scared for my future and the futures of my peers, but I am also hopeful. I am doing what I can to reduce my carbon footprint, but I must ask you to do what I cannot—vote. For a safer, better future and a healthy planet.

Sydney P., 16, New York

New York is surrounded by beautiful beaches with soft sand and bold waves. As climate change intensifies, water levels are rising which, in turn, erodes beaches and exacerbates coastal flooding. I grew up going to the beach to build sandcastles and splash around in the ocean. It is petrifying to think that my children will not have that same opportunity. I am pushing for voters to elect a candidate who stands against climate change and who is ready to put reforms in place to make a difference.

Grace S., 16, Texas

Among the countless stereotypes Texas has, many people believe we suffer from drought and desertification. In actuality, a prominent issue Texas encounters devastates waterways and vegetation. A stroll through my suburban neighborhood will display grocery bags clinging to creek banks, plastic shards intertwining roots, and bottles sprinkled throughout sidewalk grass. Research based on this visual demonstrates that Texas shockingly accumulates plastic 10 times the rate of other Gulf states.

Each individual’s environmental situation varies, but hope exists. Unfortunately, a key method to improve climate policies is through government legislators. Keeping this and my own state condition in mind, if I could vote, I would choose someone as passionate and aware of the climate crisis as I am; any candidate eager to improve the environmental state of Earth is eager to improve the state of her/his people. Remember this.

I cannot vote yet, but you most certainly can. Use it wisely.

Ariana P., 14, California


At the very core of our democracy is the fundamental right to vote for every citizen; everyone’s votes are equal. It is important to vote to express your individual opinion on issues that are important to you and the direction you would like our government to take. Global warming is real, and it is time to deal with it.

In 2020 the candidates have different ideas on the environment and carbon emissions.  Listen and learn about their positions, then make a decision. Voting allows for a peaceful way for everyone to express their opinion, transfer power, and change laws.

By voting, you are directly involved in the election process for your country’s, state’s, and city’s representation. Casting a vote helps support candidates who might think the same way as you on global warming and the environment. I cannot vote, but you can.

Kimberley D., 15, Florida

My family lives in an apartment, right in front of a marina. Boats come and go, and groups of families and friends radiate with joy as they travel to nearby sandbars. I’ve observed boat detailers tend to their boats so frequently that I know their schedules. I’ve seen graceful pods of dolphins, their fins barely grazing the surface of the water; energetic schools of fish; and majestic white-feathered birds that meet on a small island in the middle of the bay. I’ve seen curious children, pointing into the depths of the water; couples sitting on the boardwalk as the sun sets over the herbaceous trees; and brave families paddling to the island and back with only their strength. With these observations comes realizations. I’ve seen metallic, oily layers tainting the waters; discarded cups, once filled with alcohol, scattered along the boardwalk; and abandoned waters, where exuberant fish once swam. I’ve seen men blatantly avoiding the “NO FISHING” signs for their own self-interest; boat detailers carelessly dumping substances into the bay, their concerns elsewhere; and dozens with no regard for nature. Telling others to respect the environment is no longer enough—that is an inherent duty of ours as humans. Rather, I am now determined to encourage others to take action in reminding world leaders of our duty to Mother Earth in order to make true change possible.

Nousayba M., 15, Texas

Texas is one of many states that has been affected by climate change with a wide range of environmental impacts, including rising sea levels and increasing extreme weather, wildfires, and pressure on water resources. While the frequency of hurricanes is expected to stay the same or even decrease, their intensity is expected to increase significantly. And thanks to sea level rise, the risk of these storms has increased, especially along the Gulf Coast. It’s time the world sees how our planet is being affected; it’s time we all had a voice. I may not be able to vote, but you can and make that change.

Venus A., 14, Washington

All my life, I have lived near the coast. A long and calm stroll on the beach will display heaps of plastic wrappers and bags that wash away in the colossal waves. These plastics disintegrate into millions of microplastics and settle in the bellies of fish. Once caught, these fish enter our stomachs, filling us with thousands of harmful microplastics.

When I look at the streets in Seattle, I see cars frequently travel for commerce, emitting a trail of abhorrent exhaust. These extensive quantities of polluted air cause global warming, which induces rising sea levels that destroy homes on the coast, and a multitude of storms that take lives and destroy regions.

In the end, everything we do wrong comes back to hurt us. I can’t vote, but you can, so vote for someone who takes the environment as seriously as your lives.

Jessica W., 17, Massachusetts

Every day of past summers, I’d regularly take morning jogs, afternoon hikes, and beach strolls in the evenings. Since 2017, I’ve noticed my city’s great deterioration. When I walk by my elementary school, I’m baffled. The once unspotted playground is mantled by plastic bottles and scraps; the once nourishing soil of greenery is full of dead grass. Negligent behaviors occur at our beach and trail parks, too. Environmental conflicts expand with rising sea levels and abnormal climate reports. Although these impacts bring afflictions to civilians, I believe it’ll be conquered by unity and aspiration. And the first step is voting for leaders who have the same ambitions and endeavors to curtail climate crisis and nature-threatening actions. As close as I am to voting for a bluer planet, I’m just below that height requirement bar for a roller coaster ride. I can’t vote, but you can. Make a difference with it.

Jaloni T., 13, North Carolina

I started scuba diving at 10 years old—this is why the climate crisis is personal to me. Each time I dive, I learn more and more about the changes happening to the ocean life, like the discoloring of the coral reefs, which is caused by the loss of oxygen in the ocean… And that causes less ocean life for me to explore. I will see fewer whales, dolphins, octopuses, sand Tiger sharks, and other sea life.

I see more than just the climate crisis killing the ocean life: I am learning about over-exploitation of fish and oil drilling, as well as how marine animals mistake plastic and other trash as food, which is killing marine life.

The ocean, lakes, and seas are a big part of my future, and I need to get the word out that kids like me need everyone’s voices and hands to help.

Qamar S., 17, Indiana

Seven years old. I remember the sunshine that covered the dry sand and the seagulls that sang their songs with glee. I remember the clear, blue ocean that tickled my toes and made me jump when the piercing cold water touched my skin. Most of all, I remember the beauty. Simple, elegant, and beautiful. That was my beach.

Seventeen years old. I see a beach scattered with soiled litter, an ocean that has been washed out of all its blue and been replaced by a murky brown. The eerie silence from the lack of seagulls brings a new feeling in my stomach, and I realize now that this place is no normal beach; this place is a graveyard in disguise. This is not my beach.

Change is needed, and change is needed fast. I can’t vote, but you can.

Shan T., 15, Massachusetts

Recently, Hurricane Isaias wreaked havoc as it tore up the East Coast. After we lost power, we turned on our generator. Although the instructions on the generator explicitly stated that the fumes were toxic, we felt justified to release them for a flicker of light. Is flooding the air with poisonous gas fine if it’s not inside? That thought is what got us in this situation to begin with.

Hurricane Isaias killed at least 13. It’s the 9th of 24 projected hurricanes this year, making this the worst season since 2005. Five hurricanes are predicted to have windspeeds greater than 111 mph. Isaias peaked at 85 mph.

While hurricanes will occur anyways, as our planet grows weaker, they will be amplified. Just as communities recover from a storm, they’re battered with another. How much can we take? I can’t vote, but you can. Elect someone who cares about our beautiful planet.

Michael Y., 16, Florida

As a sophomore in high school, it can be hard to have your voice heard. Everyone is so focused on “fitting in” that many forget that we have to step out of our comfort zones to speak up for what’s right. This is the perfect time to speak up about pressing world issues. The most pressing, I believe, is global warming. It feels like each year in Florida, the summers keep getting hotter. This is caused by high car emissions and deforestation. Car emissions, especially close to the ocean, kill off phytoplankton, and deforestation cuts down trees; the main two living things that take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Now is the time to step up and make a difference in our world.

Hannah L., 16, Georgia

If I could vote, I’d vote for someone who will lead us into a more sustainable world, guided by unitary and exemplary standards. If I could vote, I’d vote for someone who will be empowered by and help find a solution to the problem that is the Dead Sea receding three feet per year, so my children can experience what I did there. If I could vote, I’d vote for a future that values the air I breathe over the short-term profits made by the systems polluting it. If I could vote, I’d vote for a candidate that understands that a world warming is a world dying at the hands of those who claim oblivion. There is no Planet B. I can’t vote to save the planet, but you can.

Julianne P., 15, California

It’s hard to watch from your car window and drive by miles of land all around you buried in trash. It’s even harder to enjoy the beach where filthy pollutants are bobbing up and down in the water. What have we done? We need to take action. We cannot act like we are the only ones living on this planet. Animals are dying. The ocean is dying. This planet is dying, although you might not want to acknowledge it. I have a future—we all do. And in this future, I wish to see a beautiful, clean planet. I may not be able to vote, but you can. So please, save our planet.

McKinley M., 15, Illinois

Many voting-age citizens dismiss the climate crisis as something that does not affect them, but for everyone unable to vote, this is far from the truth. I go to school in a town with a large refinery nearby, and I have seen firsthand the impact this has on the environment. Without effective climate policies for the world and for towns like mine, the climate situation will only deteriorate for future generations. I can’t vote for our future, but you can. On behalf of my entire generation, we implore you to vote like your child’s future is at risk, because it is.

Samantha J., 15, California

Preston F., 16, New York

Josie S., 17, Indiana

Veronica M., 16, New Jersey

Allie P., 13, New Jersey

Natalie C., 17, Pennsylvania

Trips through grocery store aisles, glances at our time-worn recycling bin, and strolls through littered trails, roadways, and parks reveal sign after sign of the irreversible damage that humans have inflicted upon the Earth.

Many, myself and my family included, are privileged enough to only witness the destruction that plastic and its various forms wreaks upon global ecosystems, rather than experience this destruction’s unintended consequences on human life. However, we are not privileged enough to spend more money on goods that produce less plastic waste.

The overabundance of plastic-heavy goods and inaccessibility of more sustainable goods have led to decades of harm on countless ecosystems worldwide… and will inevitably cause centuries of harm on human civilizations. This issue can be remedied by global leaders who care as much about the fish choking on plastic as the humans who will soon starve from these organisms’ extinctions. I can’t vote, but you can.

Charissa W., 14, Texas

Each day, there are signs of climate change, pollution, and environmental crises everywhere. Crumpled plastic bottles on the side of the road. News stories of rising sea levels. Dirty lakes and rivers. So why is the environment never acknowledged? Why is it always ignored, put away, moved to the back burner?

This world is something we all share, no matter where you live. It’s something we all have in common. We can’t afford to lose it. There is no second chance if we do. The environment shouldn’t always have to be placed second place behind other matters. We have reached a point where to stay silent and to ignore what is happening is the same as sealing our fate on this dangerous path. Everyone holds the power to shape this world, to make a change. I can’t vote, but you can. Use it to make a change.

Carissa D., 15, New Jersey

When I was in elementary school, we had a Halloween parade every year. It was a cherished celebration, something I always looked forward to. But for two years, there was no parade at all. A freak snowstorm pummeled my town in 2011, when I was in first grade; then Hurricane Sandy struck just one year later, killing at least 147 people in the Northeast and causing an estimated $70.2 billion in damages. These memories have shaped the person I’ve become—an activist fighting for change. I want to live in a world where there are no more “natural” disasters like Hurricane Sandy. A world where children can march in Halloween parades, instead of suffering through the impacts of the climate crisis. We can only build this world by electing leaders that will take necessary action to preserve our future once and for all. I can’t vote, but you can.

Yuvraj C., 14, New York

Anjali R., 17, California

Bright-eyed and curious with tiny hands for superhero fists and tangled tresses as my forlorn cape, I scoured the sand, ready to take on the world in my search for elegant gems of the beach: seashells. But my smile was quickly smeared off with disdain when a buried illusory rarity suddenly became relegated to a mere chunk of trash.

Marred Styrofoam. Dirty plastic. Broken glass that slit through my delicate fingers, followed by trickles of bright maroon streams rushing down into the grains of sand.

I was six.

When I was 11, they proceeded to build a glooming factory right across the street from my favorite beach. It towered with pride.

I wondered in what world have we been born in that the skies and oceans can’t meet, but our clouds can be stained with pollution.

But remember, together, we can make a change.

I can’t vote, but you can.

Camilla R., 13, Massachusetts

I can’t vote, but I can inspire you to make smart decisions. My generation and future generations want to be able to enjoy life and be able to live life without fear of our future. I cannot look up at the stars at night because there is too much pollution in the air. I have always dreamed of sitting outside with my sister and looking up at the stars with hot cocoa in my hand. Unfortunately for me and many other kids, that is not a reality. Future generations might not ever get to see wildlife and feel the joy that it brings; this makes me mad. However, this can all be possible if you choose a candidate that thinks ahead to the future instead of the present.

Abe S., 17, New Jersey

Drinking water that passes through worn-down lead pipes is a sad reality for millions of Americans today, and many leaders have done nothing to combat this issue. Specifically, Newark, NJ, a place that touches close to home, has one of the worst drinking water crises to date. Many homes and public establishments have tested above the federal action level of 15 ppb. Lead in water is associated with irreversible brain damage, impacts thousands of families, and continues to plague the city.

Local leaders have shown to be the epitome of ineptitude for many years. This is why we must elect environmentally conscious leaders who will make environmental protection a priority. I can’t vote, but you can. We cannot allow thousands of children to face the debilitating effects of unsafe water. We cannot continue to be complacent with the subpar efforts of our leaders. We need to use our voices to promote change.

Trinity L., 15, California

The sounds of sirens and frantic newscasters drown out all noise, but the overwhelming silence is louder. Acres are consumed by fire, fueled by global warming, but no one seems to acknowledge it. Heatwaves continue to decimate forests and oceans, but no one addresses it.

This year, in California, the August Complex Fire was a record-breaking fire that consumed over 471,000 acres. Meanwhile, fires near the Bay Area paint the sky red, a blaring symbol for the state of our planet. Close or far, you can see the red sky. I can see the red sky. Millions can see the red sky. But as climate change continues to hit our oceans and forests, those in power do not address this critical issue. They are silent. However, those who can vote can have a voice. I can’t vote, but you can. You can create change. You can make an impact.

Gabby R., 16, Massachusetts

I live in a coastal town and have seen the water levels rise so much. We have lost so much of our beach in such a short amount of time. It will be a matter of years at this point, and we won’t have Crane’s Beach anymore.

Emily V., 17. Florida

Recently, the Earth has witnessed an overwhelming increase in pollution, sea temperature, and health disparities. These changes have directly impacted underprivileged communities, encompassing an array of issues, such as lack of healthcare and immigration reform. Whether it is climate justice or sustainability, voting has the power to mitigate these concerns and pave the way for future solutions.

As a 17-year-old, I will be not able to vote this year. However, an important issue to me, especially in South Florida, is environmental justice. I believe a cornerstone in pursuing the correct actions to combat climate change is voting. And although the climate crisis may seem daunting and abstract at first, the people have the undeniable power to alter the planet’s current course of action and vote for a bluer, healthier environment. I can’t vote, but you can. Vote for a livable future.

Alisha D., 16, New Jersey

A poll showed that 57% of Americans are afraid of climate change. In New Jersey, the climate crisis looks like Hurricane Sandy to Newark’s water being poisoned to the air pollution due to fossil fuels. In December 2019, high schoolers, college students, and adults rallied to demand clean water, air, and energy for all. A huge step towards fighting the climate crisis is voting. The power is in the hands of those you give it to. I can’t vote, but you can. Vote for elected officials who want environmentally friendly policies to be passed, and to act on what citizens want towards helping create a more sustainable and habitable planet for all.

Clancy H., 13, Massachusetts

I love animals and nature in general, so to me it’s upsetting to hear about nature being destroyed by coal, gasses, and other forms of dirty energy, but even worse to see it happening in person. One of the worst things happening to this planet is the amount of coal we burn yearly, which is not only the dirtiest form of energy that we can use but also the fact that it is extremely commonly used. It’s sad to think about it, but coal has a carbon content of 78%, which is bad enough by itself, but in the U.S. alone, over one billion tons of coal is burned yearly. My hope is to reduce the amount of dirty energy around the world by working together and by using clean energy such as wind, solar, and water, among others. Doing this will help prevent future generations from living in a world with fewer animals and natural features to see, travel to, enjoy, and even learn from. I’m only 13, so I don’t have the power to vote, but even though I personally can’t, keep in mind that who we vote for will have an impact on our country as a whole.

Shane L., 13, Massachusetts

Year after year we break records for the hottest temperatures. Even though we’ve known for decades that rapid climate change is caused by the release of greenhouse gasses, in 2019, we emitted 50% more CO2 than in 2000. Personally, I love being in nature, from going on a hike to swimming in a lake. But if we don’t do something about our climate, future generations won’t share these same experiences. We will have to do many things to fix our world, and I believe it’s possible. Doing something as simple as installing solar panels or carpooling will have a massive effect if everyone does it. Another thing that has an effect on our climate is our leaders. We need to elect those who will actually make a difference. I can’t vote, but people who can need to make the right choices if we want to fix our world.

Colleen R., 16, New York

Dear everyone: Even though you cannot vote, it does not mean you have to be silent. We are the next generation, and we are going to make a difference. I don’t care if you’re one kid from a small town or a group from the big city, we can make a difference. We need to voice our opinions, wants, and needs. We will not be silenced. Although we can’t vote, we need to let our voices be heard in other ways: volunteer, sign petitions, go to protests, donate money, etc. We must use our voices because we are the future.

Jocelyn W., 15, Texas

If I could vote, I would vote for a better environment. There are so many different things that I would want to happen, like having a law where you have to go and do your part in the environment and not just say that you will and not do it. Another thing I would want to happen is to have some type of club or afterschool activity to have kids go out and spread the word that we need to change the way we live to make the world a better place for our marine life and for us. There a million little things that people can do, like if you see trash on the floor, throw it away. We have the power to make a difference in our community, but you have the power to make a difference to change the world if you vote.

Ayelet B., 16, Maryland

Growing up in Maryland, I always looked forward to the snowy winter. However, in the past few years we have barely had any snow, and the usual 4-6 inches on a regular winter day has became a light dusting barely covering the grass that melts with the afternoon sun. I have now seen the direct consequences of climate change, but I still have hope that we can work together. Do your part to make the world a safe place for your future. I can’t vote, but you can.

Virina B., 16, New Jersey

As a person who resides in New Jersey, I fear that the environmental future of the state might not be as bright as we hope. We are facing major issues, including poor air quality, water pollution, soil pollution, sewer system overflows, and much more. With all these problems, we need to elect a leader who will make our environment much cleaner by caring about our seas, decreasing carbon emissions, deforestation, our national parks, and more. Age shouldn’t be a reason to stop fighting or caring about the environment and picking the right leader for it. I can’t vote, but you can.

Jae Yeon L., 16, New Jersey

Permafrost is melting. Sea levels are rising. Animals are becoming extinct. There is a change in our weather patterns. Climate change is real.

Things that should not be happening are happening, and humans are the reason why. We have caused climate change, but there is still hope for us to reverse it. This is no hoax or scam; climate change is our reality now. With limited time left to save our earth, we have to make rapid decisions that will benefit us in the long run. I can’t vote, but you can. So vote for the ones who care about the environment and want change. Make a change for those who cannot.

Emma P., 16, Georgia

It truly starts with the little things that will guide us in the direction of a greener, more sustainable earth. From simply recycling the plastic bottle from the school lunch room, or lowering our house temperature by 3 degrees, we can establish a more enjoyable earth for generations to come. Traveling to the Galapagos Islands in the winter of 2016, I experienced our environmental crisis first-hand. Birds, turtles, and sea lions chewing on plastic bags, stuck between wrappers, and nibbling on cans and bottles proved the depth of the issue. Will we respond openly, learning from our past mistakes to fit a carbon- and waste-free future, or will we deny these issues, preaching that we are not causing the problem? I cannot vote, but you can; therefore, it is upon you to change the future.

Ayanna S., 15, New Jersey

An environmental issue that I find concerning is light pollution. Living right outside of a big city, light pollution obstructs our view of the night sky. This poses difficulties for stargazers, astronomers, and local nocturnal species, as well as wastes energy. I hope that in the future, large cities will become better at managing their light pollution and thus improving things for affected groups while saving energy. I can’t vote, but you can.

Beth J., 15, Illinois

This world has many environmental issues right now such as deforestation, air pollution, global warming, water pollution, ocean acidification, displacement/extinction of wildlife, and natural resource depletion. I believe that we can all make this world better by working with others. Also, we can all implement recycling habits in our daily lives. It is one of the most effective ways to help lessen landfill waste, conserve natural resources, save habitats, reduce pollution, cut down on energy consumption, and slow down global warming. Pick someone who will help us make those things happen. Work with others to make the world a better place. I can’t vote, but you can!

Ruby Z., 13, New York

Although I have not been impacted directly by the climate crisis, I know that if I wait to fight the crisis until it affects me, it will already be too late. I am in this fight because it means justice. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Without fighting for climate justice, no other form of justice will be achieved. Every form of justice must be worked towards simultaneously in order to achieve them. This year, it is more important than EVER for people to vote—especially young people. Vote to re-write the past. Vote to create a present. Vote to ensure a livable future. I can’t vote, but you can!

Aracely G., 13, Nebraska

Animals are the reason I care about the environment. In the fifth grade, one of my teachers talked about the different ways people damage the environment—one of the main reasons was pollution. She then went on about the oceans and how at one point there’s going to be more pollution than fish. In other parts of the world, trees that serve as habitat for animals are being cut down. Birds along with other wildlife are being negatively affected by habitat loss. I can’t vote, but you can. Help stop this problem by voting for people who will protect the environment.

Ka'Niya P., 14, Alabama

If could vote, I would vote to change society for the better. I would think about the long-term effects of who I vote for, not just the now. The people who are voting have to realize that they are voting for someone who is in charge for the next four years, not just for today or tomorrow. Parents should think about how is this going to affect their children. I can’t vote, but I will use my voice to help people make the best decision for this country.

Amber V., 15, California

Climate change has taken a lot from my home state of California. The warmer temperatures have caused a lot of fires and taken so much from us. So what can we do about it? First, you can speak up and tell others about climate change. You can reduce your water waste; consider taking less time in the shower. You can take public transportation or carpool. This can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you use. You can avoid using plastic when possible. If you research, you will see there are more ways to help prevent climate change. I may not be able to vote yet, but you can. You can vote to save the future, so please go out and vote.

Kai K., 15, California

I move back and forth between Japan and the US. My communities’ environmental issue is pollution, both by air and sea. There have been cases where the air pollution gets so bad that people can get asthma, bronchitis, and many types of lung cancers. On the shores as well, some factories are still being caught dumping things into the ocean, making the ocean more brown than blue in certain areas. I would vote for whichever candidate were to provide and explain their plan on fixing and helping to remove these issues; I’d also look for which one would genuinely want to help America and the world as a whole, and not just looking to get into office. I’m only 15 and still can’t vote, but to anyone who sees this and is 18 and over, please vote!

Grace B., 17, California

I love to surf, but I don’t love to see trash on the beach or in the ocean. It is so disheartening to think about the environmental harm that we are causing and the impacts it will have in the future. One way to come together as a community is to take better care of our beaches because ocean pollution is a serious problem. A good place to start is to reduce or eliminate use of single-use plastics as a way to protect sea life. I hope that future generations will be able to experience the ocean just as I have been so lucky to do. I can’t vote, but you can.

Tara M., 16, New Jersey

I have always enjoyed learning about animals and wildlife throughout my life, specifically in books and movies. One of my favorite movies is “Rio,” a story about a spix macaw named Blu in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. It has been several years since I watched the movie, but I recently found out that the spix macaw, along with several other bird species, have been declared extinct in the wild. Discovering the unfortunate news was an alarming and upsetting realization that this is the reality for numerous species in the wild. The issue of animal extinction due to reasons like deforestation and climate change aren’t addressed and spoken about nearly as much as they should, and as I grow older, I notice more and more animals classified as endangered. I can’t vote, but you can. You can make a revolutionary impact to help ensure the safety of animals in wildlife.

KatieAnn N., 15, California

You are in the sixth grade when you first learn about climate change. A fire is lit inside of you, and there is this passion that drives you. They say you are too young to do anything, so you wait. Only, how long can you wait?

You dig your feet into sand, only to be met with detritus. You watch as the ocean’s blue shifts to black. When you walk to school, you watch plastic bags tumble across the road like tumbleweeds. Trash has accumulated on the side of roads, overtaking the vegetation. You tell yourself you’re still too young to change anything.

You grow up and realize that leaders have the power to change things; you realize that voting is the only way you can make a difference. You’re still too young, but this time you’re not going to idly sit by. “I can’t vote, but you can.”

Luciana R., 13, Florida

I have grown up around the country, moving between very different climates. I have gotten to meet a variety of problems face-to-face, from the heat waves and 120+ degree days of Arizona to the hurricanes and extreme weather events in Florida. I hope to go around the country again and see growth instead of destruction. I want to see the empty desert spaces filled with sources of renewable energy, and the wetlands protected. I can’t vote to make my visions a reality, but you can.

Anjela A., 14, California

I have always been interested in helping the world. However, as I grew older, I grew aware of the deadly impacts climate change has on the environment around me—specifically, the fires roaming California. Ways to reduce climate change right from your home is by: #1. Speaking up about the problems going on in your community. #2. Don’t waste the food you buy. #3. Try to recycle clothing or thrift. Even though I am only 14 years old, I vote for a healthy and green world in the future. I don’t only want an “okayish” present and a non-existent future, but I want to fight for a better and a greener tomorrow, where we don’t have to worry about not having a world to live in.

Sophie S., 14, California

A common occurrence in most urbanized areas, the leaf blower, is much more than an annoyance hindering one’s precious hours of sleep. Emitting a plethora of toxic fumes including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons, leaf blowers are a hazard to the health of communities nationwide, including my own. Not only do they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, but to noise pollution, and they even threaten one’s health and safety with the dangerous particles being blown up into the air: for example pesticides, fecal matter, and fungi. To continue to use such devices for our own personal benefit would be a disservice to the planet. To change this I would vote for a future with politicians who take into account all the world’s climates politically and otherwise. Ones who envision a world that’s sustainable, maintainable, and, most importantly, clean. As a young voice I can’t vote, but you can.

Yasmine S., 13, Arkansas

It’s overwhelming to think about what humanity has done to our beautiful earth. To our home. Like millions of others across the world, I’m worried about how we will learn to adapt to the ominous future ahead of us. We can’t wait for others to fulfill our desires. We need leaders who take this disaster seriously, ones who don’t ignore it. And we don’t have much time. Research shows that by 2050, 150 million people’s homes will be almost completely submerged in water. These people live in mostly lower-income communities in the developing world. But people are taking action to save our planet and to keep our democracy. Big corporations are reducing their carbon footprints to zero, and inspirational activists have taken to the streets to protest, and have turned the heads of many politicians across the globe. Greta once said, “I want you to behave like our house is on fire. Because it is.” I can’t vote, but you can. We’re counting on you to bring us the future we deserve.

Stephanie A., 13, California