Aian Binlayo finds himself among the best once again in this year’s Top 25, improving by one place his fifth-spot finish last year. At 18, he remains one of the youngest environmentalists to be recognized. “As a youth, I feel that the environment is a particularly pressing issue,” he explained. “It’s us who will really be inheriting the Earth, and it’s especially important that we act as true stewards right now.”
Through his persistence, Binlayo has found success in projects that may have seemed daunting to others in his position. He was the co-founder and head coordinator of the “Kill Your Bill Challenge.” The challenge is an energy efficiency program that reaches across the 145 Southern Ontario schools in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. Elected last year as a student trustee of the school board, he embarked on a project that involved a board-wide ban on disposable water bottle sales, for which he and others submitted a policy draft.
His environmental work through his area’s schools doesn’t end there. He was co-founder and head of his high school’s Green Club, as well as a founding and senior executive member of the High School Green Club Council, which connects green clubs and shadows Brampton’s city council. He has been a part of tree plantings, park clean-ups and clothing drives, and he led a successful effort to certify his high school as being environmentally friendly through the Ontario ecoSchools program.
During the summer of 2010, Binlayo worked for the Toronto Cyclists Union (now called Cycle Toronto) to promote cycling as an environmentally friendly transportation alternative. Binlayo took his passion for the environment abroad in the summer of 2011, when he went to Costa Rica to work with the sea turtle population.
He has also written about the environment as a Junior Journalist with the Toronto Star, and has served as an ecoMentor with Earth Day Canada.
Although he’s still young, he knows that big accomplishments like his are “just a matter of staying persistent and not giving up on what you’re trying to do.”