Today I sat down with a good friend and mentor Hannah Testa to learn more about her work advocating for environmental regulation and social change!
Hannah Testa is a 19-year-old sustainability advocate, international speaker, author, politico, and founder of Hannah4Change, a non-profit dedicated to fighting issues that impact the planet. Hannah has received numerous honors and awards, including Teen Vogue 21 Under 21, the Young Superhero for Earth Award by Captain Planet, the Action for Nature International Young Eco-Hero Award, the Gloria Barron Prize, and many others.
Her work has been featured in several books, magazines, and publications. She is a published author, a TEDx speaker, board member, advisor, youth ambassador for several organizations, and a mentor to several young activists, like me! You’ll find a lot more information on her website, www.hannah4change.org
Sarah: What inspired you to start advocating for environmental issues?
Hannah: My mother always taught me to treat others how I would want to be treated. That includes other people, animals, and our earth. From an early age, I realized that our daily actions have an impact on the environment. I started Hannah4Change when I was 10 years old with a Facebook page, so if I was doing a fundraiser or drive and collecting supplies and I wanted to spread the word, the people in my community could get involved. Then I got involved in my community and with other organizations. I joined their board or I would volunteer. Not only did I find an amazing tribe of people and have the best time with my new friends, my new family, but they also helped me create my organization, Hannah4Change, an organization focused on educating people on global issues and what individuals can do.
Sarah: What are some challenges you have faced in your activism and how have you overcome them?
Hannah: Sometimes adults don’t take me seriously because of my age, especially when I meet with politicians and big business leaders. They don’t expect much from me but hopefully walking out, they realize they’re wrong and that young people do have a voice and can make an impact. The more I persevere, the more I get my voice out there. That’s one of the most important things to remember.
Sarah: You’ve done so many incredible things but what is one highlight that stands out from the work you have done?
Hannah: It has always been a dream of mine to write a book, but (ironically) I thought I was too young for that to be possible. At 17, I was able to write and publish my book “Taking on the Plastics Crisis” to educate and inspire on plastic pollution and youth activism.
Sarah: How has your outlook on activism changed over the years? Has your perspective changed with time regarding how to make an impact?
Hannah: I started my activism with the main focus to educate. Once you arm people with knowledge, we can make changes individually. But now, we are at a point where most people are aware of the issues occurring, and now we need to direct our attention to advocate for change at a higher level (like policy change).
Sarah: What are you looking forward to in 2022? Do you have any goals for the upcoming year?
Hannah: I am looking forward to new growth. I know a lot of people, including myself, who felt burnt out during 2021 and have spent time developing new projects. Now new projects are launching and more people are being energized to get out of their burnout.
Sarah: What advice do you have for other young people who want to make a difference on issues they are passionate about?
Hannah: A message for young people is to never give up. If you dream it and believe it, you’re already halfway there. Build a community to support you and take that first step.