If you want to feel hopeful about the future, spend a few minutes chatting with Annika Laughlin, Coronado High School graduate, class of 2020.
Laughlin’s journey began as a budding environmentalist living by the ocean. She wanted to care for the beauty around her. It wasn’t until her junior year when she enrolled in Karoly Tippet’s AP Environmental Science class that she found her passion in sustainability. She began educating herself and expanding her knowledge about sustainability. She read as much as she could and found inspiration in TED Talks and YouTube videos. She is a fan of Lauren Singer and her Package Free Shop.
Two years ago, while searching Pinterest for sustainable items, she came across direction to sew your own vegetable mesh bags. She bought some material and began making vegetable bags for family and friends. She now sells her vegetable bags so others may also avoid plastics.
Living a sustainable lifestyle is important to Laughlin. She shops from the PackageFreeStore and thrift stores or good quality clothing stores that use sustainable practices. She stays away from prepackaged produce and uses her own reusable bags to buy loose produce. She washes her clothes in Guppy Bags to filter micro-plastic pollution and uses dryer wool balls with a dab of essential oil in lieu of dryer sheets. She only eats plant-based foods because she recognizes the meat industry is a climate change contributor.
Laughlin was thinking of starting her own sustainability club with her friends when she heard about the new Emerald Keepers Club at the high school and decided to join. She served as a club officer and helped Emerald Keepers with their Late Start Thursday programs at the Coronado Public Library for elementary students until COVID-19 hit. Following graduation, Laughlin had planned to take a gap year to travel and immerse herself in service learning in Costa Rica, but the pandemic precluded her from following her gap-year dream. Now a student at Mesa Community College, Laughlin is looking at sustainability programs at Cal Poly, SDSU, and Colorado State.
When asked if she had advice for the people who want to become more sustainable, she said, “Just start. Educate yourself. Netflix and YouTube are great resources. Watch “Life on our Planet,” “Game Changers,” and “Down to Earth.” Reconnect with nature, put away your phone and take a walk on the beach or hike in the mountains. Feel the sun on your face and look up and see the clouds or mountaintops so you have a better appreciation for the Earth. Then you will want to care for it more.”
Listening to Laughlin’s enthusiasm for saving our planet through personal responsibility warms my heart. It makes me feel more confident that we may very well emerge from this pandemic a little kinder with empathy for our neighbors, with an extended hand for those in needs, and a shared desire to reduce carbon emissions and plastics.
Congratulations, Annika Laughlin, our Emerald Keeper of the Month. To purchase Laughlin’s reusable vegetable bags, email her at email@example.com.