Nine Year-Old Wins Award For Work In Sustainable Packaging

An elementary student from North Carolina was recently awarded a $2,500 prize for his environmental action campaign involving sustainable packaging.

Second grade student Cole Rasenberger was asked to write a government official on behalf of an endangered species for a class project.

Instead, he decided to take action on behalf of an entire ecosystem that was very close to his heart: the threatened forests of the United States.

Rasenberger contacted and exchanged several emails with representatives of the Dogwood Alliance, an organization dedicated to protecting Southern forests, before they realized he was only nine years old!

Through the Alliance, Rasenberger learned that many of North Carolina’s coastal forests are owned by large paper packaging mills, and are being destroyed to make paper for fast-food restaurants.

After hearing this distressing news, Rasenberger decided to personally convince the McDonald’s CEO use less packaging and more recycled paper at the chain’s fast-food restaurants.

Rasenberger hand-drew four postcards representing different forest habitats for his campaign. But he knew that wouldn’t be enough.

Betting that many voices would speak louder than just his own, Rasenberger printed 2,250 postcards – enough for his entire school. He wrote a speech explaining his research and project, and over the course of three days, led a team of 24 students as they stormed all 51 classrooms to present the speech and get the postcards signed.

Very soon after sending the cards, Rasenberger heard back from McDonald’s, which informed him that they would soon be switching their bags to 100 percent recycled paper.

“I have learned that children do have a voice in the world and can make changes, Rasenberger said.

For his inspriational efforts, Rasenberger was awarded the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, an award that honors outstanding young leaders who have made a significant, positive difference to people and our planet.

Check out the other young eco-heroes here!

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Val Away G.
Val G.4 years ago

Wow, amazing accomplishment!!!
Bravo Cole!!!

jill bukovnik
jill Campbell4 years ago

Well, Cole puts us all to shame.


jill bukovnik
jill Campbell4 years ago

Well, Cole puts us all to shame.


Zoe V.
Zoe V.4 years ago

Really, businesses should be "eco-friendly" from the start, but better late than never.

Clara Bielecki
Clara Bielecki4 years ago

Good work Cole, I'm very proud of you and what you and your friends have done.
To Gale, This is not a criticism of you just a reminder that kids are not through growing and need adult input to know good from bad, right from wrong. You praise a toddler for using his potty chair. That makes him understand the potty is the place, not his rompers. Same thing with doing good deeds. Besides, we send our thanks and good wishes to adults who do good.It's the thing to do. If everybody did the right thing all the time, we wouldn't need to congratulate them but we are not all good people.

Sheri P.
Sheri P.4 years ago

Congrats Cole and good for McDonald's. I still hate McDonald's and won't give them any of my hard earned money but I'm impressed that they made a change in the right direction as opposed to KFC who didn't...

Angela J.
Angela J.4 years ago

Great job!

Fenny D.
Fenny D.4 years ago

Children are great :) they just need a right motivation and encouragement from their surrounds.

Gale Johansen
Gale Johansen4 years ago

It is wonderful that Cole took this action and the result is great but I find it just a bit patronizing and a great example of ageism that the article expresses such surprise that he is nine. Children should be respected as the individuals they are. Just as with people of all ages some will lead in offering new approaches and solutions but it is neither because of their age or in spite of it. Cole did something to make a positive change in our world, my hope is that he will continue to work for such positive change no matter what age he may be.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman5 years ago