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Profile: Jae Yoon

My name is Jae Yoon and I want to create change so that future generations can experience the beautiful nature around us. As a passionate student, I enjoy the outdoors, meeting new people, and inspiring and being inspired by others. In my downtime, I enjoy hanging out with friends, playing golf, and working out. As I like to spend the majority of my time outdoors, environmental issues have a deeper meaning to me. From hiking the mountains to kayaking down the river, I am able to strengthen my passion and use it for any projects or workshops.

After witnessing the aftermath of a hurricane, I felt the urge to create my own impact and do what was necessary for my community. My concerns for the harmful effects of plastics inspired me to create my own project known as BetterBagSolution. I was first published in the news as a “young supporter” after delivering a speech to the Greenville City Council about the issues of plastic pollution. Following this passion, I later collaborated with the ECU’s Sustainability Manager, and North Carolina’s chapter of “ByeByePlasticBags”. Together, we engaged 800 students during World Water Day, organized a rally on the courthouse steps, and gathered supporters from eastern North Carolina. As a Korean-American, my family is actively involved with the Korean Association of Greenville Area (KAGA). At a charity event, I distributed 100 reusable bags donated from Harris Teeter so members can use them as portable lunch bags. Recently, the owners of multiple restaurants agreed to implement steps towards becoming a plastic-free venue by handing out reworked reusable bags alongside take-out orders. Currently, I am working with major sponsors such as Sierra Club to design a collaborative reusable bag campaign to expand my impacts to surrounding regions. As I was making this change, I realized that I can not be the only one who pushes change within my community. This leads me to pinpoint certain aspects of my project such as political advocacy and public awareness. By engaging the citizens of Greenville, we were able to create a bigger drive for change.

Philippe Cousteau Jr. is an individual that works on climate change that truly inspires me. As he is an active SCUBA diver and oceanographer, he has continued on his father's legacy of a true environmental advocate. He is one of the co-founders of EarthEcho International, a non-profit organization that focuses on ocean conservancy. Along with his multiple television shows, he created a program where young students can become a part of the change. Last year, my team and I competed in the EarthEcho OurEcho Challenge and was selected to be one of ten international, finalist teams. This event showed how dedicated he is to his work and the true passion he has for the environment. By introducing such an important topic to kids at a young age, he is creating a wide impact throughout the world.

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