THE VIEW FROM WASHINGTON : U.S. teenager with ties to Mauritius campaigns against plastic pollution

Hannah Testa, whose mother is a native of Quatre Bornes, has become a well-known advocate in the United States against plastic pollution and for animal rights, speaking at conferences, filming videos, receiving awards and appearing on CNN.
This would be a big accomplishment for anyone, but it’s exceptional in her case because she’s only 14 years old.
Hannah began her activism at a young age, when she began to question why so few Americans seemed to care about the health of the planet. She wondered why they didn’t use reusable shopping bags, and why animals weren’t treated with kindness and respect. Her parents, Farida (Lollmohamed) and Chris, always encouraged her to treat others – both people and animals – the way she’d like them to treat her, and teaching her that one’s daily actions have a impact on the environment. They reminded her that one person’s activism could have a big impact for change.
She began raising money for various animal causes, speaking at protests and rallies and collecting petitions to send to politicians. Then she saw a documentary called Plastic Paradise that documented the amount of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean, and she realized that one of the earth’s biggest problems is with plastic pollution. She had found her true cause.
Since then, educating others about the dangers of disposing plastic into the oceans and elsewhere has become her passion, consuming just about all of her thoughts and free time.
“By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish by weight  in the our oceans,” she said. “More than 600 animal species are endangered or killed by plastic pollution and the sea creatures such as fish and shrimp are eating small pieces of plastic, which affects our food chain in ways we may not truly appreciate.”
She started researching, partnered with several environmental organizations, used eco-friendly lunch boxes, recycled whenever possible, and started a non-profit organization, Hannah4Change, that focuses on plastic pollution awareness. She uses social media, her website, Instagram and Facebook to get the word out, has posted educational videos on YouTube, attended conferences across the United States, and joined forces with American actors who share her passion against plastics.
Hannah also networked with a local senator in Georgia to win passage of the state’s Plastic Pollution Awareness Day on Feb. 15, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. The goal is to encourage people to stop using plastic products such as bottles, straws and bags that are used once and then thrown away.
Hannah says she hasn’t yet visited Mauritius, where many relatives live, but “I’d love to and hope to go soon.” Her mother, Farida, was born in Quatre Bornes and raised in London, where she met Chris Testa, an American. They settled in the United States, where Hannah was born, and now live outside Atlanta, Ga. Hannah has a little brother, Adam, age 6.
“I dream is to visit Mauritius, and when I go I don’t want it marred by plastic pollution,” she said. “Mauritius has taken a great step in banning plastic bags. I understand this change has been largely successful as a result of an educational campaign to make people aware of the effect of plastic bags on wildlife and the ocean. Once citizens are educated, policy changes, such as banning plastic water bottles or encouraging recycling would be a great next step.”
Hannah encourages young Mauritians to get involved in environmental causes that interest them.
 “Anyone, at any age and any location, can make positive changes in the world,” she said. “We need to start with ourselves so once you get educated on the issues, you can make changes in your own habits. Then start making others aware. Start with friends and family and then branch out to schools and community groups. And don’t forget the power of the internet.”
More about Hannah’s initiatives can be found at:

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