Community Spotlight: Westchester kid proves that it only takes one small change to make a difference

Jun 11, 2019

Justin Sather and Westside Neighborhood School Principal, Brad Zacuto, celebrate the installation of a Buddy Bench on the campus. Justin collected more than 200 pounds of plastic caps, which would have otherwise been headed to a landfill, to have the bench made.

Westchester resident, Justin Sather, is proving that no matter what your age, you can give back to your community and make a positive impact on the planet. What started off as a love of frogs and helping raise money to save amphibians has led 8-year-old Justin on his next environmental quest. He is turning plastic trash into treasure, while encouraging others to cut down on their waste consumption. Over the last few years, Justin has been able to raise more than $20,000 by selling toy frogs and through to enable him to work on eco-friendly projects like purchasing reusable snack bags and pencils made of recycled newspaper for his school. 

For the last seven months, Justin has been collecting plastic caps from all over the community, which were recently melted down and turned into a Buddy Bench that was installed at his school last month. The bench will help encourage inclusion and kindness between students, and anyone looking for a friend can have a seat on the bench, indicating they’re looking for someone to play with. 

What’s next for Justin? He’s teaming up with like-minded individuals in Cameroon to help turn their trash into eco-bricks and looking for creative ways to help them reduce plastic pollution. He’s also encouraging  people of all ages in his own neighborhood to make small changes that can help the environment. So far, he’s been able to convince more than 200 friends, family and neighbors to switch from regular plastic toothbrushes to an eco-friendly alternative made from recycled yogurt cups.

Interested in going “green?” Here are some tips from Justin:

 Q. What are a few easy ways people can reduce their plastic consumption?

A. People can refuse plastic. If the store wants to give you a plastic bag, just say “No, thank you” and bring your own.

You should use reusable lunch boxes, snack bags and reusable drink bottles. Buy less plastic stuff.

And people can use bamboo toothbrushes or toothbrushes made from recycled yogurt cups.

 Turning trash into treasure is just like magic!

 Q. What would you say to other kids that are interested in making a difference in their community or the world?

 A. I would tell kids to come up with an idea to help the world. Then I would say, “Keep on going. Never give up. Keep being brave.” And if people make fun of your project, just don’t listen to them and keep going. Your idea will grow and grow and you will change the world.

To learn more about Justin’s projects, visit

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