Planeteer Feature: Toluwalase Proves that Every Action Counts

At just 16 years old, Toluwalase Abiona developed an interest in environmental issues and the importance of preserving the delicate balance of life within ocean ecosystems. Toluwalase studied Marine Biology at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Now age 25 she seeks to deepen her understanding of environmental issues and explore new avenues for environmental advocacy and action.

Toluwalase began her environmental journey by joining the Captain Planet Foundation’s Planeteer Alliance through which she had the opportunity to participate in the Tide Turners Plastic Policy Cohort. These programs were crucial for setting up the groundwork for her activism, “Through the Planeteer Alliance and Tide Turners program, I’ve had the opportunity to work on various projects aimed at addressing plastic pollution, promoting sustainable living, and advocating for environmental conservation.” One of the most important aspects for her was the community, “It has provided me with a platform to connect with like-minded individuals and collaborate on impactful environmental initiatives.”

It was from this passion and connection to her community that Toluwalase created the Zero Plastic Straw Community organization. In March 2023, she was recognized for her efforts as the organization’s founder and awarded The Wangari Maathai Legacy Prize Award. In March 2024, Toluwalse was awarded The Global Recycling Heroes Award for her extensive environmental work. As a dedicated environmentalist and founder of Zero Plastic Straw Community, Toluwalase was awarded for making significant strides in reducing plastic wastes by providing 6 recycling giant bins, and donating 50 eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws among school students and local communities. Through educational campaigns, cleanups and advocacy efforts, she has engaged over 5,000 individuals in recycling practices and the fight against plastic pollution.

Her impact spans even further past her community efforts, as Toluwalase is advocating for stronger policies on local and national levels. “Environmental policy plays a crucial role in shaping the way we interact with our natural surroundings. It provides a framework for sustainable development, regulates resource usage, and ensures the protection of biodiversity. By advocating for strong environmental policies, we can create a legal and regulatory environment that fosters responsible stewardship of our planet.”

Toluwalase looks forward to inspiring more youth to become active environmentalists in their communities. She is continuing her work as a leader within the Planeteer Alliance platform and is completing her Tide Turners Plastic Policy Training in June 2024. She’s also working with the Youth Climate Action Fellowship to educate and empower youth on climate change and is working with the Adopt a Gutter Initiative to clean up drainage systems in Lagos, Nigeria. In the future, Toluwalase hopes to play a pivotal role in shaping a more sustainable and equitable future for the planet through mentorship, education, and advocacy efforts.

Toluwalase hopes to remind young audiences, “…to start by exploring their passions and interests within the environmental field. Whether it’s through volunteering, participating in local initiatives, or pursuing educational opportunities, every action counts. Stay informed, connect with like-minded individuals, and never underestimate the power of your voice and actions to make a difference. Remember that environmentalism is not just a career or a hobby—it’s a commitment to protecting our planet and ensuring a better future for all.”