“I think what I relate myself to is an avocado… If you take the seed of the avocado you can grow it even at home and especially right now when there is a lockdown, I can also grow as a person even though I am just at home and not out there in my natural habitat,” says Aelita Khushnutdinova with a big smile on her face.
Aelita is only 19 years old but she is already fighting for the future of her generation. She has always been interested in ecology because of the bad air quality in Almaty — her hometown in Kazakhstan.
“In my own city there are companies that just decrease the air quality and instead of being held accountable, they just pay off the fines and continue to do whatever they are doing,” she says disappointed.
After an exchange year in the U.S. her passion to make a change turned into a mission.
“What really got me started was when I was in the U.S. and we had a trip to a landfill and a recycling center. I learnt so much from that experience.”
When she came back home, Aelita started to look for possibilities to help the environment herself. She knew that a radical change would be nearly impossible, so she embarked on a long journey to become zero waste consumer. She met the support of her family who followed her steps.
“It took quite some time but eventually me and my mom stopped using plastic bags. … Even my grandma also asks us what kind of things we can recycle, … my friends ask me about different sustainable habits or vegan food that they can try.”
The secret to influencing people around us is to show them what our future will look like if we do not act today, Aelita thinks. The next step of her journey to an eco-friendlier life was transitioning from carnivore diet to a vegan one. She admits she has always disliked zoos but while researching on sustainability she also found out what happens to animals in farms.
“It was really hard for me to stop once and for all… Then few weeks into slowly reducing my consumption I didn’t feel the need to eat any meat and I became vegetarian.”
The reason she became vegetarian is because of the planet but the reason she became vegan is because of the animals, she adds. After learning that with more people turning vegan less people on the planet will be hungry, Aelita chose not to contribute to the animal industry anymore.
“…A lot of the grains used to feed animals can feed people in regions with scarce amounts of food,” she exclaims.
Helping the planet requires some effort, but Aelita does not get easily discouraged. She finds her inspiration in seeing a lot of people who are speaking out and pushing for changes in the laws and it makes her feel proud that by changing her small daily habits she can be a part of the movement to save our planet.