The Need to Go Green

Sainath Manikandan is using all the tools at his disposal to create urgent awareness about changes humans must make to save the environment.

GEMS United Indian School, Abu Dhabi (UIS) pupil Sainath Manikandan assumes various roles. He is an innovator, outstanding student, passionate social campaigner, Abacus graduate, holds a brown belt in karate, is a Junior Emergency Response Lead Member, keyboard player, and a budding artist. He is also an active environmentalist, working tirelessly to spread awareness about the need to protect, conserve and preserve the Earth’s resources.

He is a Drop It Youth Ambassador, an initiative that aims to raise awareness about single-use plastic pollution and encourages individuals and organises to rethink their everyday choices.

The Grade 6 student’s mission is to raise awareness of environmental issues by encouraging his family, school, and the wider community to reduce and remove all single-use plastics from their everyday life, and he has already managed to persuade many students to rethink their use of plastics.

Sainath has leveraged available technology to support his drive for a cleaner planet and has created a robot—Marine Robot Cleaner — designed to collect floating waste and debris from water surfaces to better protect marine species and the environment. The young inventor has developed the idea to include an app — Plastic Cleaner App — that will control his robot remotely on the high seas without requiring manpower. A few organisations have shown interest in developing his creation at a larger scale and talks are underway.

Not one to rely on technology, he is involved in various cleanup campaigns organised by Day4Dubai, EWS — WWF, Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi and many more. At present, he is running a campaign called PEPC and collecting recyclables such as paper, electronic waste, plastic water bottles and cans. He is trying to spread the message that we can swap our existing practices for green, sustainable solutions using technology.

George Mathew, Principal of GEMS United Indian School says most of Sainath’s projects connect to finding solutions to real life problems. He adds that as part of the campaign to celebrate World Environment Day and World Oceans Day, Sainath has picked up the plastic pollution concern and has vigorously campaigned across the school community driving awareness and prevention of plastic use in daily life. “This sensitivity has caught up with most students in our school and made Sainath a champion for the cause. His passion for environment preservation has spread across the school community and also caught up with the community at large!” he says.

In 2018 the young activist won the prestigious Diana Award — given to young people who have the power to change the world — for being eco-conscious.