#BecauseOfYouth Spotlight: Alexi Lindeman

#BecauseOfYouth Spotlight: Alexi Lindeman

The #BecauseofYouth Spotlight series highlights young environmentalists in MCE’s service area who are leading the fight against climate change.

Alexi is a senior at Heritage High School in Brentwood and chairperson of Sustainable Leaders in Action (SLIA), an organization of high school and college students promoting a cleaner and more sustainable future. Read on to learn how Alexi is making a difference as a local leader in the fight against climate change.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a senior at Heritage High School, and next year I’ll be attending Stanford University to pursue a major in Environmental Engineering. I enjoy hiking at Contra Loma, building things with scrap material, and folding origami.

Why did you decide to join the fight for a more sustainable future?

I have always had a general care and fascination for nature, and my “fight” began in 8th grade when I learned about plastic pollution. I remember watching the film A Plastic Ocean and being horrified by how much plastic was everywhere, from populated shorelines to remote islands. As I learned more, I became more frustrated and shocked by how we treat our planet. How can we mistreat our only home, neglecting it until climate change, pollution, and resource scarcity are immediate threats? I was infuriated because those who are most responsible usually suffer the least repercussions. I was ashamed to be part of the problem and felt insignificant and powerless to solve it. And so, I developed a burning desire to do something, anything.

What types of initiatives have you worked on with SLIA?

I contributed primarily by writing the newsletter and joining its initiatives. I organized the first Climate Careers Chat, an interactive panel to educate students about career paths in this field. A favorite initiative was Operation Green: Mission Possible, a three-week summer program teaching elementary students the importance of sustainability and how to practice it. It’s important not only to practice sustainable habits but also to engage our community and teach others.

My latest involvement has been with the No-Drilling Contra Costa Movement, where we are successfully gathering grassroot support for the ban of oil and gas drilling in our cities and county. We began organizing in September 2021. Since then, Antioch has banned drilling, and Brentwood has placed a moratorium on it while working on a permanent ban. We have also gathered 3,400 signatures for a petition to support a county ban. It’s really empowering to see how dedicated people can change a community.

What changes do we need to make to address the climate crisis?

To avoid reaching 450 ppm of CO2, we need to completely transition to clean energy as soon as possible. I also envision a future with less energy-intensive food sources by reducing food waste, localizing production, and eating more plant-based food and lab-grown meat. Eating a plant-based diet is a great way to reduce our environmental footprint. The agriculture sector is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters, and certainly the most land- and water-intensive. As our population increases, land and water resources decrease. We need to develop a more sustainable lifestyle.

Why is it important for youth to use their voices to create change?

It’s their future they’re fighting for. People listen to the voices of the youth. Young people can make their voices heard and put pressure on people in leadership to listen.

What advice would you share with someone who thinks that they can’t make a difference in the fight against climate change?

You can make a difference, no matter the size. I know it can seem overwhelming, but just take it one step at a time. For example, take shorter showers, avoid eating meat, join a local organization, and, most importantly, keep learning. Encourage your friends and family to follow suit. Find something you’re passionate about and don’t stop. Anyone can make an impact. Also, don’t forget to take time to take care of yourself so that you can continue to make a difference.

What’s next for you?

I recently worked on the No-Drilling Contra Costa Movement and mobilized youth and adults to publicly comment on Contra Costa’s proposed general plan. Over the summer, I’ll be stepping down as SLIA chair but plan on being there as a member. As I begin my higher education at Stanford in the fall, I’m excited to engage in the endless opportunities that await. I can’t wait to work toward an Environmental Engineering degree and design systems supporting the transition to a sustainable future.

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