Profiles in Regeneration: Shiv, 16, US
The world isn’t a perfect place. It never has been, and it never will be. [But that]shouldn’t discourage you from pushing for change.
Young people all around the world are working to build a regenerative future. At 16, Shiv Goel is one of those people. He is the founder of Green Consumer Project, a website that helps consumers find sustainable products and in turn, change the way they consume and shop.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Shiv Goel: I’m feeling great, thank you for asking! I feel extremely blessed and fortunate to be selected as part of the Regenerative List alongside 99 other incredible leaders,.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
SG: My search history is actually pretty revealing. You’ll find a ton of research into eco-friendly brands, as I’ve been developing what is now the world’s most comprehensive list of environmentally friendly brands for almost two years now! You’ll also find out about my addiction to TED Talks and my obsession with hedgehogs.
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
SG: I’ve been learning a lot about art history and reading up on the unique stories behind various European impressionists. Book-wise, I am currently reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
SG: That is honestly a really difficult question for me to answer as I am 100% a people person and can’t live without the company of the people around me. If I had to pick just one, I would have to probably choose Al Gore. He’s been an inspiration of mine for years and is truly the original climate activist. His work paved the way for generations of environmentalists to come, and I really admire the initiatives he took to bring the climate crisis into the limelight, like organizing the first congressional hearing on global warming.
RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?
SG: I have never eaten beef in my entire life due to my religious values. Growing up, I was always confused as to why the people around me wore leather, a byproduct of cows, but refused to eat meat. So, a few years ago, I decided to cut leather out of my daily life completely. When I was researching non-leather alternatives to essentials like wallets and dress shoes, I began noticing the trend of these same companies showing commitments to sustainability. After digging more into sustainability, I was horrified to see the negative impact large corporations have on the environment. When I decided to switch to sustainable clothes, I realized just how difficult my commitment was. It was nearly impossible for me to find something I liked, let alone something within my budget between the countless sustainable brands and the mom-blogs advocating for their favorite eco-friendly purses. I was disappointed that this kind of information wasn’t readily available. So, I decided to create a place for conscious consumers like myself to go and find clothes they liked from brands they could feel comfortable supporting.
RF: In two years’ time, what would success with your project look like?
SG: In two years’ time, I would like to see our website fully developed, a team of volunteers in the dozens, and partnerships with major brands. Beyond just being the go-to website for conscious consumerism, I want to be a voice in the fashion industry that can truly make a difference. I want to meet with brands like Calvin Klein and Prada and tell them what they’re doing wrong, and I want to help them transition from using sweatshops and toxic dyes to being proponents of ethical working conditions and sustainable materials.
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which would you choose and why?
SG: As a climate activist, I may be biased, but I definitely do think that governments need to be proactive with their investments in our future. I would focus government funding on developing technology that can help regenerate our earth, such as carbon sequestration and clean energy alternatives. When I was 10 years old, I gave a mock TED Talk about the importance of clean energy and using water as an alternative fuel source for cars. I would love to see my dream become a reality!
RF: What is the best and worst thing about the education system in your country?
SG: I would say that the best thing about education in America is [our modernized curriculums] and the emphasis on teaching students a range of subjects beyond English and math. My state, New Jersey, recently became the first to mandate climate education in K-12 learning! The worst thing about our education system, however, piggybacks off the best. Despite the wide range of learning opportunities in America, many of those opportunities are concentrated in high-income and predominantly white communities. Low-income majority schools where most students are BIPOC are often underfunded and unable to provide the same access to a good education that others are.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2060?
SG: For a 16-year-old in 2060, I would tell them that the world isn’t a perfect place. It never has been, and it never will be. [But that]shouldn’t discourage you from pushing for change. If you have an idea that you think could change the world for the better, you have no choice but to pursue it. That is your civic duty as a resident of our planet. We don’t have the technology to move to Mars yet, but maybe you’ll be the person who makes it! Or maybe you’ll be the person to discover a second inhabitable planet, or maybe you’ll invent a new candy bar.
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
SG: The thing that frightens me most about the future is the possibility that we won’t succeed in our fight to save the planet. I always wonder—am I doing enough? What can I be doing better? How can I do more? Climate anxiety is an extremely common plague of the climate justice movement, and unfortunately, it is warranted. I am placated, however, by the people I have the pleasure of working with. Seeing other youth activists make a difference is unbelievably inspiring, and it truly gives me hope for our future and makes me believe that, one day, we will succeed in our efforts.
To learn more about Regenerative List finalist, Shiv Goel, click here.