Children and teenagers must not stay “happily ignorant” of the world around them anymore

Ralyn Satidtanasarn known by the nickname of Lilly is a very young integral ecology activist from Thailand who has been fighting against the use of plastic for years. With concern for the present but with hope for the future, Lilly talks about the important role that children, youth and adults have in the moment of climate and social crisis we live in.

How and when did your commitment to the environment, sustainability and the fight against plastic start?

It started with a concern that I, as a young child back then, felt for the environment. I have always had a commitment to the environment, I believe as citizens of the world we all have a responsibility for sustainability. I was taught that our planet is our greatest gift so when I began to see all the pollution and destruction we as humans were causing our home I was heartbroken. However, as a 8-year-old child I tried to do what was right, to reduce plastics in my own home and telling my classmates to be mindful as well as my family. Unfortunately, there is only so much individual activism can do, so I decided to tackle the problem at the root, at the corporate and governmental levels. I started writing letters to the prime minister of Thailand and emailing large corporations with the help of my mother. As a young child my concerns were not always taken seriously, so, through hard effort and persistence, I managed to slowly make the change I wanted to see in the world. After many years and many meetings and presentations with both the ministry of natural resources and large retailing companies, we worked to push forward in finding and implementing a sustainable solution.

Finally, at the beginning of 2020, there was a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags in 70+ major retailers. This was one of my successes.

I learned that environmental issues will affect everyone, so therefore everyone has a responsibility to contribute to change, to work together to help our world and not against each other. 

Why should a teenager, taken by the beauty of his young age, commit himself to climate change instead of having fun?

I believe all children and teenagers should focus on their education and nurturing themselves instead of worrying about mass world issues. However, in this day and age teenagers and children do not have the luxury of staying happily ignorant of the world around them anymore. We have been forced to solve the problems of adults in fear that we may not have a clean sustainable future.

What do you think are the main responsibilities of adults?

The main responsibility of adults is to leave a better world for their children and descendants. To solve current issues such as climate change, pollution and inequality instead of simply talking about them. 

How did you approach the great EoF community and what do you think it can produce?

I was grateful to be approached by this wonderful community of changemakers. I believe this community has a great potential to help create a spread of solutions throughout Europe. I believe the EOF community is a great way to open up the conversation of the impact youth can make on the climate. 

You will be in Assisi and you will probably see the Pope: what will you tell him and would you like to tell him?

I would first thank him for the lessons and kindness he has shared throughout the years of him being in this prestigious position. 

I would also thank him for raising awareness about the current issues of the world and for showing so much support for youth like me to raise our voices and be heard by great people, such as him, who can help us make a difference.