Bright Future Scholarship Recipient
Spotlight: Maya Penn
Young entrepreneur, Maya Penn, keeps the environment top-of-mind throughout her many ventures.
Already a successful designer, illustrator, author, CEO and above all, environmentalist, Maya Penn has an impressive resume for anyone, especially for a 15-year-old. She started her own clothing company Maya’s Ideas at eight and gave her own TED Talk about her entrepreneurial spirit at 13.
Throughout each of her endeavours, Maya has made helping and protecting the planet a priority. With her clothing business, Maya makes sure all of her fabrics and dyes are environmentally friendly. With that same mind set, we teamed up with Maya to support our Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine. program. Drawing her inspirations from nature, Maya decorated custom bathroom recycling bins which she is raffling off to encourage everyone to recycle in the bathroom.
We awarded Maya a Bright Future Scholarship for all of her environmental activism and caught up with Maya to hear more about her passion for recycling and hopes for a more sustainable future.
Many people recycle in their kitchen, but what are some other important areas that you recycle at home?
There are a number of places that you can start recycling in your home. Your bathroom, garage or your home work space; anywhere you have plastics, paper or metals. Put a recycle bin in each room in your house that gets the most traffic (and trash!)
As a techie and an entrepreneur, which new innovations focused on supporting the environment are you excited about?
Scientist, Chris Chang, created a system of artificial photosynthesis that can collect carbon dioxide before it escapes into our atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. The captured CO2 can be converted into various chemical products, like liquid fuels and biodegradable plastics.
Where do you get your eco-friendly fabrics and why did you pick them for your clothes?
Some of it is donated, some of it is from estate sales, and I also get organic fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo and hemp.
I picked them for my clothing designs because I always want to incorporate eco-friendliness in anything I pursue--so why not my own business?
How do you combine your love of art with your environmental goals?
I have an animated series I’m working on called The Pollinators which is about the pollinators in our environment and why they’re important. I’ve also written and illustrated a children’s book called Lucy and Sammy Save The Environment which teaches kids to be good stewards to the planet, the book is also printed on recycled paper!
What are some ways you’ve seen small steps for the environment pay off in big ways?
I’ve seen so many local community projects, recycling programs, growing food, etc. that have made such an impact. If people have the drive to create a local movement for the environment, they should go for it! The smallest actions can lead to the biggest changes. There's a huge ripple effect.
What is your hope for a brighter future?
My hope is that more people will take steps to give back to the environment and also encourage youth to be more environmentally aware as well. If everyone took a step to Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine, we would definitely create a brighter future.
We’re constantly in awe of young people, like Maya, who are using their creativity and activism to change the world. Maya embodies the Unilever purpose of creating a more sustainable planet, and we know with the help of New Leaders, like Maya, we can create a brighter future together.