AS A NATIVE OF WASHINGTON, Santoshi Pisupati was used to a temperate climate and vast forests of lush evergreens. So, moving to South India when she was 6 was a bit of a shock. She wasn’t prepared for the outdoors she encountered.
“There were no trees in my neighborhood,” recalls Pisupati, now 15. “It was always hot, always smoky, you could never go out without a mask. It struck a nerve.”
That juxtaposition drove Pisupati to share what she knew about the environment, hoping that would inspire Indian youth to help build a more sustainable world. After her three-year experience in India, she was excited to continue pursuing her interest in the environment when she got back to Seattle.
Now a high school sophomore, Pisupati is co-leader of her school district’s Sustainability Ambassadors chapter. The nonprofit organization empowers youth to lead campaigns that encourage peers, parents and policy-makers to advance sustain- able practices. Among their projects, these students are leading a county-wide, solar neighborhood challenge in partnership with a Black-owned solar installation company that offers discounts to participants.
Pisupati and other area ambassadors are also mobilizing to call on the Lake Washington School District and its families to switch their search engines to Ecosia, a Berlin-based search engine that uses a portion of its profits to plant trees. So far, the company claims to have planted 110 million trees worldwide. That international focus resonates with Pisupati.
“When I was in India, it was very rare to see a forest. To find one, you had to go on vacation,” she says. “If you search for anything on Ecosia, you’re helping the environment.”
In addition to her love for travel and the environment, Pisupati has developed a passion for space. And that makes a lot of sense to her mother, who imagines all three of those interests melding into a fascinating future.
“The next level would be outer space,” says Sirisha Pisupati. “Some- day, maybe we’ll even make our journey to another planet. There will be sustainability needs there, too.”