Student advocates for environmental preservation


Paola Laborda

Longtime advocate for “Our Planet”, Sam Sharf expresses his mission to fight for the environment. Sharf has previously campaigned for politicians with environmentally conscious platforms, including governor candidate Andrew Gillum in 2018. 

Ava Nelson, Staff Writer

Q: What is the most pressing environmental issue you are aware of? 

A: Well, I think it’s the global degradation of our environment by massive corporations that exploit our resources to make massive profits, like the gas companies and the oil companies, those are the same thing, like deforestation, like the fact that our ocean is going to have more plastic than fish in, like, 2050 if it keeps going on this pace. And the fact that people try to blame it on people- saying it’s overpopulation or it’s you know-you need to use reusable water bottles and eat less meat-and those are all good things to do, but in reality it’s not the people that are causing most of it. It’s the corporations. 

Q: What have you personally done in order to preserve the environment? 

A: Well, me personally I have, I use a reusable water bottle try to pick up trash whenever I see litter anywhere…somewhere like at the beach or somewhere in the environment. I also became vegetarian for like two months, which is like partially this reason but also morally and it’s – I feel like it’s more efficient. I also campaigned for Andrew Gillum for governor and he had really good environmental plans for Florida, and sadly he lost but you know someone will come by again with his platform. 

Q: Is there anything that he did or any organizations that he introduced you to or any organizations that you found on your own that people could get involved with in order to help the environment? 

A: I don’t think he really introduced any organizations, but he had plans to, like to ban offshore oil drilling in Florida-oil drilling in general is bad-but I mean they were going to push it further out so if there is an oil spill it wouldn’t affect the coastline as much. He also wanted to change our economy to more like a green economy which is what people are trying to do nowadays where invest all our-it’s called the ‘Green New Deal’-like invest all of our energy resources into renewable energy instead of our fossil fuels. And yeah, stuff like that. 

Q: What change do you personally hope to inspire or see in the world, or at least in America right now? 

A: America right now…I think everything’s become so haptic in the political field and in general, in that area, that people don’t really want to engage in it anymore, because of how, like I said, how haptic it is. But if everyone were to, at least not everyone, but if most people were to engage and you know, do a little bit of reading or you know listening to something. Every opinion matters so if people were to just become slightly a little bit more informed that could change the outcomes of elections and more people involved in protesting and stuff like that. 

Q: Around when would you say you started to get involved in politics and especially in environmental politics? 

A: Well, I got started in politics in general, I guess, on the Scholars II field trip back after the Parkland shooting last year in February and got to give a speech to the Florida Senate hearing. And after that, I got involved and kept getting involved. Environmental stuff, I’ve always kind of known-or at least in high school and as I got older-I paid attention and knew what was going on, but I guess I didn’t really realize how serious it was until about a year or two ago in regards to our climate. It’s not even how serious it is-most people-the problem is most people think that there’s nothing we can do about it, they that it’s inevitable, but in reality there are actual people who are destroying our planet. They have names and addresses and are actual human beings and we can get them to stop. And it’s up to us to save us and it’s not like it’s an inevitable problem. That’s what most people need to realize. 

Q: What would you overall consider one of your biggest accomplishments in achieving your political goals or once again environmental politics? 

A: I would say, I don’t know how much I personally accomplished, I guess I could say that it could be all the people who I interact with, how I start conversations with them and how much people have learned, like from me bringing it up all the time, like people now or in my circle start to care a little more. I guess that’s an accomplishment, because of all the people I’ve influenced. 

Q: Do you have a personal goal you have set or an overall mission? 

A: I signed up to work on the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign, that is a long-term goal because he wants to enact the green new deal which could change our country’s pace and the environmental fight, and he’s the most environmentally conscience candidate-or he will be when he announces it. That’s like a long term push, and I feel like if he gets elected he will take the steps necessary in the US to combat the rising climate change, the threat of climate change. All we can really do is get more people involved, so I’d like to get more kids to know what’s going on and to realize we can fix things, and that the problems are not inevitable. However, that is whether it’s through protests or rallies or events or whatever, Kids just need to see they can be better than this.  

Q: Where do you see your environmental interests taking you in the future, or even just political interests? 

A: I don’t really have an ambitious political future ahead. I want to study, you know, potentially study astrophysics or you know philosophy or psychology, understanding human and humanity’s place in the universe, I guess. But maybe in the future I could potentially get into politics when I’m older, like you know after my career is over. But, that doesn’t really answer the question, so I guess in college and a little after I could start an organization to care about the environment, and like just get involved in protesting and stuff like that. 

Q: What message do you hope to pass on to people overall and even right now? 

A: I’ve said this a lot but my message is: the problems that are going on right now aren’t inevitable. The people causing the degradation of our planet are real people, and they have names and addresses and everything, just like you and me, and they can be stopped. You know we can save our planet, it’s not an inevitable problem if we fight it and combat it, and save it.

Q: What would you say are the main challenges you’re going to face before you get people to realize this? 

A: Well-a lot of people-America hasn’t had a significant change in decades so people have become very, like, afraid of change, so not everyone is willing to listen to alternatives, or at least understand better alternatives to the fact. In order to get people to be more open minded or get people to have more positive thoughts, we have to keep getting people aware of what’s going on-you know informed-and then that should change things in the long-term.