Photo from Aian Binlayo.

At 17 years old, Aian Binlayo is one of the youngest environmentalists to be recognized in the Top 25. “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. The “Kill Your Bill Challenge”, of which he is the co-founder and head coordinator, is in its final stages of planning. The challenge is an energy efficiency program that reaches across the 145 Southern Ontario schools in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. Recently elected as a student trustee of the school board, his latest project involves a board-wide ban on disposable water bottle sales, for which he and others will be submitting a policy draft in the fall.

His environmental work through his area’s schools doesn’t end there. He is 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 Cycling Union 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. While there, he helped to establish a recycling program in a small town. In the summer of 2012, he hopes to travel to the Arctic with the “Students on Ice” program to study the effects of climate change.

He also writes about the environment as a Junior Journalist with the Toronto Star, and is 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.”