Alex Borghese: From Climate Awareness to Sustainability Ambassador
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Alex Borghese: From Climate Awareness to Sustainability Ambassador

The Climate Leaders Fellowship is a teen enrichment program that leads high school students in researching the effects of climate change in their own communities and finding ways to combat the problem locally. Some of the fellows in the program have gone on to become sustainability ambassadors, such as Alex Borghese.

The virtual volunteering program is offered in a collaboration between the Stanford University Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Join the next Climate Leaders Fellowship cohort.

Read Alex’s impact story below!

From Gaining Awareness to Becoming a Sustainability Ambassador

Alexander Borghese
Age 17

​​My name is Alex. I am 17 years old and currently a junior attending a high school in a suburb of Philadelphia. During the COVID pandemic freshman year, I joined some students from California to help create Smart Recycling Now.

I soon realized that awareness over climate change and the environment was lacking in my own community when compared to my friends’ communities in California. I had made educational videos for Smart Recycling Now, and I now wanted to create an educational platform which would educate my local community about plastic pollution.

Planet Ocean Project: Educating Local Communities

I joined Climate Leaders Fellowship during my sophomore year and with the support of CLF, I created my website, Planet Ocean Project, which has educational essays of my own as well as links to professional environmental sites and news organizations.

The website explains why plastic pollution is the crisis it is today, from its manufacturing to its entry into the oceans and how this pollution affects both marine and human life. I have partnered with local schools and my local township and as this project grows, I plan on having links with local businesses which are interested in promoting educational awareness about the environment and climate change.

Becoming a Sustainability Ambassador

My township recently created a sustainability program, and I became a sustainability ambassador. As an ambassador, I am using my website as an educational resource for local schools, businesses and communities. I am educating kids at the lower school level and am currently planning a plastic recycling project to help support our local Riverbend Environmental Education Center.

With this website, I hope to be a point person to help create local projects and inform other students about community activities and local sustainability policies. The goal of this website is to try to educate and unite younger students in sustainability activities and raise awareness about the environment and climate change.

Partnering for Change

I was motivated by a local business which had an incredible summer display about plastic ocean pollution, and it was this display that inspired me to do something for my community. I initially wanted to do a project with our local aquarium but decided first to establish a website.

I realized that I could use this website to help educate our students and community on why our local township has focused on sustainability and in particular, why the township has banned plastic bags and in future, single use plastic utensils.

There is a need to educate the community on why such bans are critical in addressing the current plastic pollution crisis. Current partnerships include my local township, Riverbend Environmental Education Center and that local business, Pucci Manuli, whose plastic ocean pollution window display inspired me in the first place.

With this website, we are all working to create a new community event, a plastic challenge project, which will collect and recycle plastic to create benches for Riverbend.

Climate Leaders Fellowship helped me develop and structure my goals with this project and gave me the confidence to push ahead and create something of substance. This is just the beginning and I hope to keep working with the Climate Leaders Fellowship for my future goals.

Tips on being a sustainability ambassador from Alex:

  1. Identify a local environmental issue that needs more awareness: Alex realized that climate change awareness was lacking in his own community compared to his friend.
  2. Create educational materials or platforms to address the issue: Alex created his website, Planet Ocean Project, which has educational essays and links to professional environmental sites and news organizations.
  3. Partner with local schools, businesses, and community organizations: Nobody can do it alone. Alex partnered with local schools, local businesses and his town.
  4. Use visual and engaging content to raise awareness: Alex made educational videos for Smart Recycling Now
  5. Participate in programs like the Climate Leaders Fellowship for support and guidance: Shameless plug here. But we kinda have to, right?
  6. Become an ambassador or advocate to lead local initiatives: Alex became a sustainability ambassador in his township’s sustainability program.
  7. Plan and execute projects that have tangible community benefits: Alex is planning a plastic recycling project to help support the local Riverbend Environmental Education Center.
  8. Use online tools platforms to spread positive information and gather support: Alex’s website is a prime example.
  9. Stay motivated by local examples and displays of environmental activism: Alex was motivated by Pucci Manuli’s plastic ocean pollution window display, which inspired him to take action in his community. You can be the inspiration for the next group!!
About the Author

Kayla Anzalone

Kayla joined Rustic Pathways in 2020 as the Director of Special Projects. She has nearly a decade of experience in communications and marketing. At Rustic Pathways, Kayla is dedicated to helping high school students discover their passion for exploring the world through summer travel programs. She drives impactful initiatives to empower students through meaningful travel experiences worldwide. Based in San Jose, California, Kayla loves the outdoors, live music and travel.