Take a Step

Shruti is a Path to Positive Communities Climate Ambassador and the recent winner of ecoAmerica’s #EveryoneEveryDay photo contest.

Headshot of Shruti Agrawal

Shruti is a Path to Positive Communities Climate Ambassador and the recent winner of ecoAmerica’s #EveryoneEveryDay photo contest.

My name is Shruti Agrawal and I am a sophomore at Ardrey Kell High School. As the founder of New Normal, an environmental organization dedicated to bringing healthier habits to students and families, I have been actively involved with climate work for the past four years and am always looking for new avenues to grow and partner with other organizations.

I’m sure you’ve heard the quote “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” right? This quote was said on July 21, 1969, and over 50 years later, we still remember the famous words of Neil Armstrong. Why? Because he took the first step — in other words, an initiative. 

Did you know that Neil Armstrong was a civilian and his next in command was a veteran from the Air Force? He took a leap of faith into the unknown and took the first step on the moon. His willpower was strong and his actions were extraordinary, but his training was ordinary. So why don’t we change history and take a step the same way Neil Armstrong did? 

Let’s dive in. My name is Shruti Agrawal and I’m a sophomore at Ardrey Kell High School. I am an environmental activist and the founder of an eco-friendly organization, New Normal. 

Shruti Agrawal speaking on stage at the Sustain Charlotte event with a microphone in handBy using the concept of gamification, New Normal gets students, but really everyone, to consciously think about their actions by participating in easy, daily challenges that should be done every day for a week. Gamification is the concept of using online rewards and points to motivate the consumer to continue using the product. Although the points don’t necessarily have any significance, they keep the user motivated and happy. The challenges that they participate in are super simple. They include taking shorter showers, using reusable straws, or even turning off the lights when leaving a room. There are currently 24 challenges on the website which all have a different purpose but require less than 5 minutes every day to perform. Since 2019, we have rewarded over 600 volunteer hours and have had about 75 members take part in the challenges. So, I’m not saying to go home and immediately start buying solar panels and begin selling your car. I’m saying to go home and turn off the lights when you leave a room, and take reusable bags the next time you go to the grocery store. 

One of the biggest drawbacks of climate action is that we don’t often see personal gain. While it’s true that the effects will be seen in the future, the precautions can affect each individual now. By manipulating the problem into a solution, we can make climate activism a fun part of our daily lives. 

In this day and age, exercising seems to be a separate part of our lives. Going to the gym is completely different from standing up and being active throughout the day. By taking a step outside to the grocery store, or taking public transportation, chances are that you will be able to walk outside more and enjoy the fresh air. Even skipping a trip to the gym and running a lap around the neighborhood would be reducing carbon emissions! Throughout the pandemic, it has been abundantly evident that taking breaks and being active are extremely important. Therefore, by taking that step, we are not only helping the Earth, we are helping our physical as well as mental health. 

So, I would like to conclude by saying, take a step. Start a movement that people will remember 50 years later because YOU will make it possible to live on Earth 50 years later. 

What are we waiting for? Let’s take a step because if every one of us takes one small step, we’ll end up on the moon. 

Website link: newnormalx.com

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ecoAmerica builds institutional leadership, public support, and political resolve for climate solutions in the United States. We help national mainstream organizations elevate their climate leadership, providing them strategy, tools and resources to: demonstrate visible climate leadership, empower climate literacy, engage all constituents, and build collective action and advocacy. We help our partners transform into national climate leaders who inspire others on solutions. ecoAmerica.org

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