Sophia Skarparis (she/her), also known as PlasticFreeSophia, is a youth change-maker driven by a passionate commitment to combat plastic pollution. Growing up amidst the natural beauty of Australia, Sophia’s childhood was intertwined with beachside adventures and moments on the football field. Her profound love for water and unwavering determination on the football pitch shaped her early years.

At the age of 14, Sophia undertook an extraordinary mission. She mobilised and collected over 12,000 handwritten signatures, advocating for the ban of single-use and heavy retail plastic bags in New South Wales, Australia. She presented the petition to the NSW Premier and it was tabled in Parliament in October 2018. This pivotal moment revealed the negligence of certain leaders toward their responsibility to safeguard the planet and future generations. From this disappointment, Sophia’s relentless pursuit of change was ignited.

She enacted change through grassroots activism, the empowerment of youth, engagement with parliamentary representatives, dialogues with businesses, and, this all leading to the successful implementation of legislation against plastic pollution in NSW. Sophia’s efforts have led her to collaborate closely with organisations such as Surfrider Australia, Australian Geographic, Clean Up Australia, and Take 3 for the Sea, where she has been instrumental in providing educational workshops. Her notable impact in raising awareness about plastic pollution earned her recognition at the Australian Geographic Society Gala Awards ceremony in 2018, with commendation from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Sophia’s vision for a plastic-free future extends beyond her advocacy work. She has committed herself to integrating eco-conscious practices into her daily life, initiating change at the grassroots level within her school and sporting communities. Her role in mobilizing youth for action during the School Strike for Climate in 2019, which saw over 350,000 participants nationwide. Through her actions, Sophia firmly believes that education is the catalyst for change. As well as the importance of fostering a profound connection between people and nature, a connection that ultimately drives transformative action.

Time is of the essence, and she believes that together, we possess the power to reshape the future for the better.