Mississauga student wins environmental award after over 10,000 hours of volunteer work

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Published November 15, 2022 at 11:11 am

aryan gautam
Aryan Gautam, 16, has done more than 10,000 volunteer hours for environmental causes.

A Mississauga student is so committed to spreading awareness on climate change, he has done thousands of hours of volunteer work toward the cause.

Aryan Gautam, a 16-year-old Erindale Secondary School won the Telus Planet Protector award for his work as the youngest member of several councils including, Ontario Nature Youth Council and the Youth Director of Mississauga Climate Action.

He has committed over 10,000 volunteer hours spreading awareness about climate change, philanthropy and environmentalism.

Gautam says he first became interested in climate change issues when he was only six years old.

“I remember watching news stories on TV/the internet talk about climate change, specifically about the ongoing increase in global average temperature we’re experiencing and thought to myself that this is something that could be fixed on an individual level with a little bit of effort,” Gautam tells insauga.com.

I began going out every day to pick up litter and garbage within my community and even brought along a few friends to help. As I did this, the beauty of the environment and its meaning to the future generation dawned on me. I decided from an early age that I would dedicate all of my free time to the environment.”

When he was nine years old, Guatam visited India where his family is originally from.

“(I) was shocked to see the number of people being forced to live with poor air quality and high levels of pollution,” he says. “It was at that moment I realized I wanted to tackle climate change on a global scale. I simply could not let climate change destroy lives in the future.”

Gautam founded Save the Planet – Open Doors, a non-profit organization that focuses on sustainability and educational projects, in 2015. It was federally incorporated in 2019 and works with non-governmental organizations (NGO) worldwide to accomplish mutual initiatives, he says.

Save the Planet – Open Doors organizes park and city cleanups, donates to humanitarian organizations and distributes hot meals to the underprivileged.

The most recent initiative is called Project Killbit, which is their own coded cryptocurrency, a better alternative to the negative environmental impact of other cryptocurrency like bitcoin that require large amounts of energy.

They also launched Project Butternut Restoration which will plant hundreds of endangered, Canadian-native butternut trees.

“By collaborating with regional Indigenous communities and my high school, we have created a garden with these butternut trees to encourage environmental activities, inspire volunteers, protect these trees, and contribute to the mental health of students in school,” says Gautum.

Gautam also joined the Ontario Nature Youth Council two and a half years ago. The council’s mission to protect wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Guatam delivered education presentations and seminars, and held an advisory position for several media and project-based platforms.

And he was elected as the Youth Director of Mississauga Climate Action (MCA) two years ago, after my long voluntary partnership with the organization.

Friendly Future Maker award winners receive a prize pack worth $7,000, including $5,000 to help fund their initiatives or to invest in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), a $1,000 Telus gift card, and a $1,000 donation to a registered charity of their choice.

He says winning the award is incredible.

“The Friendly Future Maker Awards are all about recognizing and celebrating Canadian youth who are creating long-lasting change in their communities, and ultimately helping make our world a better place. This recognition, I believe, is a direct reflection of our passion and community impact, and will also encourage us to continue paying it forward for a friendlier tomorrow.”

Gautam chose AIM for SEVA Canada, an organization that makes education and healthcare accessible to children, especially in countries where it is needed the most.

In the future, Gautam plans to continue working to improve the environment, serve the community, and study at university to achieve his goals.

“I hope to widen my impact and increase its magnitude, as my dreams would only be fully achieved once I positively influence the whole world by bringing communities together to work towards our mutual environmental and humanitarian goals,” he says.

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