When Sharona Shnayder was 18, she saw a video on Instagram of Greta Thunberg speaking out for action on climate change. It was then that she realized how compromised the world’s climate was, and the emergency of the issue. In that moment, the spark of passion for environmentalism struck within her.
Shnayder, now 20, has spent the past two years as an advocate for environmental sustainability. She lobbies in the Oregon Capitol for environmental policy, works with Senior Advocates for Generational Equity to make the voting process easier for young voters and is a sustainability liaison for Portland Gear.
On top of all of that, the recent Portland State graduate has created an organization called Tuesdays for Trash (@tuesdaysfortrash ) with her friend, Wanda McNealy, dedicated to cleaning up the Portland area as well as education and community outreach.
It started out in May as a casual trash pickup around the PSU campus. During their cleanup they realized they didn’t want it to be a one time thing. Thus, Tuesdays for Trash was born, and has evolved beyond just keeping the community clean. They pick up after protests, provide resources for education, and create events to help people become more involved with environmentalism.
“Tuesdays for Trash is also a great way for us to move into deeper topics and use it as an umbrella for a variety of conversations, like how climate change is pervasive throughout our society and can be linked to racial justice, social justice, etc” Shnayder says.
The organization is symbolic of her activism as a whole. Her mission is not just to keep her community clean, but to educate everyone on how many social problems go hand-in-hand. Whether it’s how the hunger crisis in Yemen is partially attributed to climate change, or how the homelessness crisis connects to the Black Lives Matter movement. “You have to take a look at the different areas of society,” Shnayder says.
For her, it’s about leaving behind a legacy of activism. She says, “I think our hope is for everyone to feel like they have a community with Tuesdays for Trash, and to be able to reach out to us for information and feel uplifted as well”