Kuljot Anand, a 19-year-old freshman, is founder and president of EnergySmart, a green energy organization in Toronto, where he recruited and trained 250 volunteers to go door-to-door to promote energy conservation. “I’m not an engineer yet and haven’t come up with an innovative way for the world to conserve energy,” he says. “But in the meantime, I figured why not conserve the energy we have?”
When he was 16, Anand, along with the help of his younger brother, launched EnergySmart. First, he enlisted the help of a local environmental organization to contact Hydro One Brampton, the company that provides electricity to the Canadian cities of Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon, which have a population of 1.2 million. Next, he persuaded the company to donate thousands of compact fluorescent light bulbs. Then, he rounded up scores of volunteers to carry two energy-saving light bulbs to each household in exchange for two incandescent bulbs.
“Our goal is to educate the public that using energy-saving bulbs not only conserves energy, but also reduces your electric bill. And saving energy is great not only for our future, but also for our children’s future.”
HOW IT BEGAN
Anand moved from India to Ontario when he was 13. With few friends in a new country, one Saturday for something to do, he decided to participate in a cleanup on the shores of Lake Ontario. On that day, he found a dead squirrel tangled in a fishing line, surrounded by garbage.
“When I saw that animal, a spark ignited,” he says. “We’re ruining their habitat, I thought. I wouldn’t want to live in a garbage-infested home. All creatures deserve the opportunity to live in a clean environment.”
Motivated by that sight, Anand singularly organized cleanups outside Toronto for the next four years. He rounded up 50 people on Facebook, at school, and by word-of-mouth. Then, the crew descended onto the shores of Lake Ontario with gloves, garbage bags, and stakes, and together collected 660 pounds of garbage and recyclables.
“That one day changed my life. I now have a huge passion to conserve energy and the Earth,” he says. “I want to be part of creating world change.”
One summer, Anand landed a job with Share-It, a program that accepts donated hard drives, keyboards, and laptops, then repairs them, and donates them back to underprivileged families. Anand’s job was to repair the computers.
“Instead of sending the equipment to a landfill, we reuse it,” says Anand, now on the board of directors of Community Environment Alliance, the umbrella organization of Share-It. “It was on that job that I began thinking about energy conservation, and soon after, we started EnergySmart.”
Anand, who now alternately dreams about becoming an astronaut or a businessman, says he dreams of becoming CEO of a biomedical or aerospace company. He is still unsure what he will study at MIT, but says he would love to contribute to creating a more sustainable future. “I feel like that’s what I’m meant to do.”
When he was 18, Anand got a private pilot’s license through the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. He now has 55.6 hours of flying time.
“I always wanted to fly,” says Anand, adding that having a panoramic view of the earth as a pilot, has given him a great appreciation of the earth’s beauty and wholeness.
“I remember flying 6,000 feet over Northern Canada,” he says. “The amazing beauty of the trees, hills, and lakes was breathtaking. It troubles me to think that if we don’t preserve the Earth, we’re going to lose all that beauty.”