Benjamin Hoppe, an 18-year-old entrepreneur, environmentalist, and dog lover, dedicates his life to staying true to his passion in order to better the planet. As we see the debate of climate change arising now, more than ever, Hoppe believes that “as a human being, we all have the responsibility to do our part; we have the responsibility to pass down the planet to future generations.” Though climate change and its effects are daunting, Hoppe devotes his steadfast approach to fighting climate change to everyday sustainable practices – ones we can all engage in.

“We have the responsibility to pass down the planet to future generations.”

Hoppe wasn’t always this passionate about fighting the fight for our planet — just a few years ago, he adopted an interest in the subject as he started seeing more and more media attention focused on climate change. Noticing this attention based on broad solutions and approaches to sustainable living, such as clean energy and low waste living, he searched for specifics, wanting to dive deep into minute details. After doing some research, he dropped everything and said, “I better do something.” Hoppe started brainstorming and realized how much waste is produced on the daily, especially with unnecessary printing and packaging. To minimize this point at issue, he’s currently working on a startup company with the mission to eliminate unnecessary printing, and translate physical copies of data and valuable information to completely digitized sources. What this company will do, says Hoppe, will “in practicality, make the consumer’s life easier. What we’ll do with this digital information is help save time and money.” Hoppe also explains that in order for startup companies to be successful, they must look at the bigger picture, for Hoppe’s company, it’s “ getting rid of the physical aspect of said data and value: way more for way less.”

Dedicated to the enterprise of sustainability, Hoppe understands that “sustainable business practices just make sense — in a lot of fields, it’s worth the investment.” Not only are many businesses switching over to cleaner, more renewable and sustainable methods, consumers are demanding it. The most sizable changes are made when consumers collectively understand and speak on the importance of products that are sustainably produced. Hoppe calls this, “talking with your wallets,” as your dollar is what encourages, or discourages, businesses from operating in a certain way. Over time, more sustainable practices save the consumer’s money, as well as said business’ money: just incorporating 40 megawatts of solar projects in the Sichuan province in 2015, about one-sixth of the total wattage of proposed solar projects, was stated to eliminate over 200 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. With another newly purchased grid in California, “Apple could save ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ by agreeing to buy the fixed electricity rates,” states Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives.

Though these are big investments that Hoppe recognizes as important, and fulfilling in the end, he stresses the importance of the little things. As everyday actions go, simple steps make the biggest difference. Turn off the water and lights when you’re not using them, try to take more public transit, invest in higher quality products that last longer, invest in more ethically and sustainable products, reduce meat consumption in order to reduce your own ecological footprint, cut down on water usage, and reduce air and water pollution, bring reusable cups and containers when you get coffee or take food out. Though these are simple actions, these are the ones that will shift out social, economic, political, and literal climate. Every action, every person, and every intention matters.

Aside from dedication to sustainability, being a young entrepreneur is a feat in itself. Hoppe recognizes that he, “faces a lot of challenges.” He hears, “you’re too young, go to school,” a lot in his professional career, but knows that experience is everything — and there will always be those who will doubt you, “it’s just a matter of finding those who’ll take you seriously.” Hoppe describes it as terrifying, but at the same time, it excites him — which is exactly how staying true to your passion should entice you. Though finding your passion is difficult, staying consistent with what you love is important, says Hoppe. “If you find something you love, and it involves school go to school, do that. If not, spend all your money on experience. Your drive and mentality is everything.” In order to stay consistent and productive, Hoppe is sure that he doesn’t waste an ounce of daylight. When Hoppe isn’t working, he’s doing something to better himself or others by listening to podcasts, reading, walking his dog, writing speeches, and understanding the importance of “taking a step back and breathing,” before you get back to work.

Though Hoppe is a dedicated individual with a mission to change the world, he only describes himself as a messenger: “No matter where I am in life, I’m just the messenger. When you look at it, no matter what happens, I’m just educating people — it’s the individual’s job to change their life, and therefore, the world. I’m in the backseat, they’re the ones driving.”

 “It’s the individual’s job to change their life, and therefore, the world. I’m in the backseat, they’re the ones driving.”

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