Teen planet protector is an ‘Enviro-Hero’

    Blake Parkinson is “over the moon” at his award. Submitted

     Blake Parkinson said he was “a little bored” at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, the Grade 8 student picked up a camera and started chatting about his passion: protecting the environment. 

    Two years later, Parkinson hosts live discussions on social media, a podcast about sustainability and even a digital magazine. And, he’s been recognized for his work.

     Parkinson was recently awarded a youth Enviro-Hero award from the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, after being nominated by Kirsten Sixt of the Lake Kashagawigamog Organization. “I was like ‘woah!’ I was over the moon with joy,” Parkinson said. The HHLT said Parkinson’s education initiatives and fundraisers show dedication to environmental education. 

    He’s organized shoreline cleanups and a save beluga whales campaign at his school, as well as a World Wildlife Fund swim fundraiser at his family’s cottage on Black Lake. “It really started with my family and then I said you know what I want to encourage more people to be environmentally friendly,” he said. 

    On his Planet Protectors Instagram page and website, Parkinson tells viewers how to make recyclable Christmas ornaments, shares news about animal protection on the podcast and has even started a digital magazine that summarizes international efforts such as the United Nation’s sustainable development goals. 

    “My main goal is to encourage people to live more sustainably and think more about the environment in their everyday lives,” he said. 

    Parkinson faces the camera with a confident smile. “You might not have thought about this, but sunscreen actually does have a negative impact on lakes,” he said, framed by tall trees lining the shores of Lake Kashagawigamog.

     It’s from an episode of Blake on the Lake, a series of environmental tips and tricks Parkinson delivers through The LKOs YouTube channel. “When we do really small things it is a big change,” he said, chatting about Planet Protectors’ daily sustainability prompts and tips. Some ideas Parkinson gives out are simple, such as unplugging electronics when not in use or using paper straws. 

    “It’s those small things you can do,” he said. “Saving the planet doesn’t need to cost money.” He encouraged Highlanders to approach tough environmental issues such as the proposed shoreline preservation bylaw with an eye to the past and future.

     “Approach [issues] slowly, give it time. You also need to think more on the environmental side: how are animals going to be affected, how are ecosystems going to be affected?” he said. Parkinson said his dream job is to work for the U.N. on climate action. 

    With scientists worldwide calling for urgent action to mitigate rising temperatures, he said change is possible. “I see hope, I see a world that is in our hands. We have to mold it the best it can be,” he said. “We don’t have that much time to do it, we need to act as fast as possible.” Parkinson and the other Enviro-Heroes will be recognized at an awards ceremony at a later date.

     Planet Protectors’ website: planetprotectorsch.wixsite.com/ planetprotectorsca Follow Planet Protectors on Instagram @ planetprotectors_ca