Miranda Cosgrove Knows You Can Save The World
I have to know what Carly Shay would come up with on this.
Miranda Cosgrove may have spent her teen years all over your TV screen, but she still relates to the experience of being unheard. “I know what it feels like to be young and to feel scared to speak up, or like you can’t make a huge difference on your own,” she tells Elite Daily. “Maybe you just don't feel super confident in your ideas, cause nobody's ever told you that your ideas were great.” It’s why she wants to encourage young women to have confidence in their own ability to make change.
“When I was little, I would see [girls] on TV that were even a little bit like me, I’d think, ‘Oh, I can do that too.’ Whatever they're doing, you see it and you believe [you can do] it.” Cosgrove’s own experiences have given her insight into the power of assurance — and the tools that are available to girls and women wanting to make change. In 2006, when she was just 13 years old and on iCarly, she was only dabbling in the idea of what it meant to be an “influencer.”
“The world was just so different than it is now. People didn't really even have web shows, and kids weren't all on the internet,” she says. “Nobody even knew what an influencer was. I'm not even sure [the] term existed. The world's definitely changed a lot.”
There’s nothing more important than our planet. It’s our home.
Although she admits feeling like her voice couldn’t make a difference as a young girl, in recent years she’s been more invested in speaking up and speaking out — particularly on the environment. According to a study by Pew Research Center, Gen Z has continually stood out as one of the most vocal groups when it comes to climate action: Almost 70% of Gen Zers say they felt “anxious about the future the most recent time they saw [online] content about addressing climate change.”
“There's nothing more important than our planet. It's our home,” Cosgrove asserts. “And getting to be a part of trying to come up with ideas to help in any way is really important.” She recently began working with Hewlett-Packard (HP) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Girls Save The World initiative, which is dedicated to investing in young women to develop forward-thinking solutions to slow — and even reverse — climate change. Until Jan. 18, girls ages 13 to 18 can submit their ideas on how to address an environmental issue in their community to the initiative’s Solv[ed] Youth Innovation Challenge for the chance to win a $10,000 prize and up to $40,000 to develop and implement their idea. The HP Girls Save The World Prize is one of three prizes up for grabs in the challenge. “I’m hoping [this campaign] is gonna make a lot of young girls feel great and realize what they're capable of,” Cosgrove adds.
After years of being relegated to the sidelines on critical world issues, more and more young women, such as Greta Thunberg, Quannah Chasinghorse, Vanessa Nakate, Autumn Peltier, and more, have been filing to the forefront to call out the need for decisive action on combating climate change. Indeed, the need for girls to speak out and take action is critical, as young women are disproportionately and negatively affected by environmental issues. According to The Washington Post, extreme weather events caused by climate change are “taking girls out of school, forcing them into earlier marriages, and increasing their exposure to violence.”
But Cosgrove has faith in girl activists to effect change. “The next generation — by the time they're my age, I feel like we're going to be in such a good place, because it seems like kids are a lot more aware of what's going on in the world now,” says the 28-year-old. The internet and access to information, she says, make it easier to learn about issues you care about and figure out how to take action. “That makes me feel hopeful and feel good about the future,” she continues. “I can't wait to see what all these 13-year-olds end up doing 15 years from now.”
In fact, Cosgrove credits the things she learned about in her own teen years as driving her advocacy for climate change. When she was 13 or 14, she became involved with Oceana, a nonprofit environmental group committed to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans. “I was able to have this really incredible experience,” she says. “I was able to swim with wild dolphins, learn all about seismic blasting, and what [it] does to marine life.” Primarily used for offshore oil and gas exploration, seismic blasting involves pummeling the seafloor with high-powered airguns to map underwater oil and gas reserves. These explosive blasts can reach over 250 decibels, per the Center for Biological Diversity, and have been disrupting, injuring, and killing marine wildlife for years on end. “That [knowledge] was something that always stuck with me,” Cosgrove says. “It made me really want to help in any way I could.”
Cosgrove’s eyes have been opened to other environmental issues while living in Los Angeles, such as the ever-present smog, poor air quality, and pollution. While climate activism is a macro issue — the most harmful effects are driven by large corporations, not individual actions — she still advocates responsible consumption in your everyday routine, like taking your own reusable bags to the grocery store, staying aware of how much water you’re using, or even driving an electric vehicle. “You can do a lot just within your own life,” she says.
If every single person does something small, it adds up to something really big.
That includes how to take action. “When you're with your friends and you're talking, I feel like brainstorming and coming up with stuff with other people can be really fun — and also you can end up coming up with good ideas,” she says. Cosgrove thinks back to an episode of iCarly where Carly, Freddie, and Sam were working on a science class project requiring them to come up with different ways to help the environment. It’d be funny, she says, to shoot “an episode this time around, trying to help the environment as adults, and seeing what the difference would be versus then and now.”
One of her greatest hopes, Cosgrove says, is to help young women understand what they’re capable of, and to encourage them to reach their full potential. “If every single person does something small, it adds up to be something really big,” she says, noting how excited she is to see the ideas that come through from the Girls Save the World Prize.
“If [you’re] able to come up with this idea and submit this at 13 years old,” she says of the kids entering the initiative, “the world's your oyster. You can do anything.”