Anjali Narayanan

United States of America

Anjali Narayanan

Anjali Narayanan is a student at Travis High School in Richmond, Texas, and is the Founder of climate action non-profit, Recycle FAN.

In middle school, she was selected for the JASON’s Argonaut program which sparked her interest in environmental action, heightening her sense of urgency in making change – especially at grassroots level – and sparking action among young people.

When Anjali started high school, she discovered that there was no recycling program resulting in hundreds of pounds of paper going to dumpsters. Similarly, there were no clubs enabling high schoolers to have an environmental impact in their communities. She acted swiftly and created the club Recycle FAN (RFAN). She initiated neighborhood cleanups, upcycling projects, and began educating the community, bridging the gap between youth and government officials for green change. Initially demotivated as it was extremely difficult to recruit student volunteers and no freshman had ever successfully started a new club, Anjali persisted and grew her club through social media to over 100 members just at Travis High School, all during the pandemic.

Anjali decided to expand the club into a network with other chapters created in local area schools. Recycle FAN is now a registered non-profit with 30 chapters in 7 states boasting more than 500 members. Chapters in Recycle FAN are also growing internationally including one Canadian chapter and one in the Philippines. Anjali is continuing to work on acquiring global chapters to foster ideas exchanges and conversation about addressing the climate crisis at a global level instead of the local approach many nations are subject to.

Successes include cleaning up over 500 lbs of waste from community areas and donating over 150lbs of clothes to Goodwill and a local Women’s Shelter. They have turned over 500 plastic water bottles into bird feeders, key chains, and planters and 100 single use plastic bags were upcycled by crocheting them into reusable bags.

Along with cleanup and community donations, RFAN have also reached and educated more than 7000 people through school visits, social media campaigns and talking to local businesses. Currently, their campaigns are focused on local-area restaurants and coffee shops and how, for example, they can better reuse their used coffee grounds and compost their waste on a local farm. Additionally, Anjali is working on building an autonomous robot to make composting convenient, and to allow the scaling up of urban composting and community gardens.

In order to further spread eco-awareness, Anjali also developed an app that increases individual engagement and promotes action at the grassroots level. The app not only promotes Recycle FAN events, but also showcases events organized by other green organizations. This app also works to build an educational base of green content through interactive short videos and infographics. It is working on partnerships with brands such as Lululemon, Starbucks, and Roblox for gamification/rewards.

Anjali makes a mark on her student community not only by spreading awareness about the environment with direct action, but she also runs a student mentorship program and offers public speaking coaching.