Youth Against Carbon

£2.5K bursaries awarded to two teens with ambitious plans to protect the planet

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 30 January 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Two teenage climate activists have secured grants to grow their planet-protecting eco-initiatives.
 
The two £2,500 bursaries have been awarded by insurer Zurich UK, following a competitive pitch process and as part of its Youth Against Carbon initiative.

Birdgirls’ nature camps

The first grant will be awarded to 18-year-old naturalist and conservationist Mya-Rose Craig, (known as Birdgirl), to develop her Black2Nature/Camp Avalon programme.

The aim of the programme is to help inner-city teens from deprived and visible minority ethnic (VME) backgrounds overcome barriers to accessing nature.

It does this by hosting nature camps that engage attendees by making nature relevant to them and through VME role models.

Participants are given the opportunity to get up close with wildlife and take part in activities such as birding, mothing and nature photography.
 
Zurich’s funding will be used to fund and run Black2Nature’s first camp for VME teens from deprived areas of London in the summer.

‘Many teens from deprived, VME communities have never visited the countryside or had the opportunity to connect with nature. I believe everyone should have equal access to nature and the many benefits its brings. That’s where our camps come in.

‘We get teens interested and inspired in nature by making it relevant to them and their lives. Over the next three years, I’m looking to increase the number of camps we run, with a target of organising 25 camps a year by 2025.

‘It’s ambitious, but with Zurich’s support I’m now already able to start plans for our first camp for London teens and will be seeking their expertise on securing additional funding streams to deliver on our goals.’

MYA-ROSE CRAIG (‘BIRDGIRL’)
Founder of Black2Nature

Loving Earth’s Oceans

 
The second bursary was awarded to 17-year-old eco-entrepreneur Lysander Bickham from London.

Lysander will use his grant to grow his eco-friendly home subscription service, Loving Earth’s Oceans (Leo’s Box), which provides consumers with monthly boxes containing natural and plastic-free household products.

The aim of Leo’s Box, currently the youngest-run B Corp in the UK, is to fight the war on waste and protect the planet by reducing single-use plastics and the use of toxic chemicals.

The business also plants a tree and makes a donation to Plastic Oceans for each box sold.
 
Lysander will use the grant to embark on an ambitious brand-building and consumer education campaign centred on demonstrating how simple product swaps can save the planet.

‘Over-consumption of plastic is having a devastating effect on our oceans and fragile ecosystems. I wanted to be part of the solution and set up Leo’s Box to bring use of plastics to a more sustainable level.

‘We’re seeing a growing desire and take-up of eco-products, but to bring about real change, need to make it easy and economical for consumers to make swaps. That’s what Leo’s Box sets out to do.

‘Zurich’s funding and mentoring will help me take the business to the next stage,, drive greater uptake of eco-products and ultimately help save the planet.’

LYSANDER BICKHAM
Founder of Leo’s Box

Youth Against Carbon Conference

Mya-Rose and Lysander will also benefit from one-to-one mentoring from Zurich’s experts on areas such as sourcing funding and business strategy.
 
Mya-Rose and Lysander were invited to apply for the bursaries, which were made available to all those who were panellists at Zurich’s first Youth Against Carbon Conference (YAC Con) in October.
The aim of the conference was to provide young people with a platform to get their voices heard in the climate discussion and highlight the essential role young people are playing in the fight to protect the planet. 

The six-strong, all-youth panel debated the most pressing environmental issues from the war on waste, conservation and fast fashion to climate change education and climate justice at the virtual conference.

‘It’s young people who are powering climate change action. Through YAC Con we wanted to not only get young voices and opinions heard, but also reward those who took part by giving them an opportunity to apply for a bursary to further progress their eco-initiatives. Mya-Rose and Lysander’s projects and growth plans really stood out to the judges. We’re excited to see where our funding and consultancy will take Black2Nature and Leo’s Box in the coming months.’

LAURA MCALPINE
Head of sustainability at Zurich

Following October’s conference, Zurich is now finalising a YAC Action Plan, outlining panellists’ recommendations on the action they believe government should take to combat the climate crisis.

Zurich intends to champion the plan within government to influence and inform future climate policy.

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