Ocean Heroes Spotlight

Get to Know Sharona Shnayder: A Q&A Session

April 5, 2021

Q: Thank you so much for joining us for a Q&A! We’re so excited to have you and would love for you to share a bit about yourself with other Ocean Heroes and readers. Can you tell us a little about yourself (name, age, hometown, and your favorite marine animal)?

A: My name is Sharona Shnayder, I’m 21 years old as of last week and was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria but have been living in Tualatin, Oregon for most of my life. My favorite marine animals are turtles of course 🙂


Q: How did you become passionate about the environment? Was there a specific moment?

A: I started paying more attention to the climate crisis and gaining a passion for environmentalism after watching Greta Thunberg’s 2018 speech at the UN COP24. It was the first time I realized how serious the emergency was and what was at stake for me personally. After that I started thinking about it constantly because the climate is a part of every single decision I make. From then on I was determined not to make the problem any worse than it is and encourage those around me to join the fight for climate justice. 


Q: Can you tell us more about your organization, Tuesdays for Trash, and how you and your co-founder Wanda McNealy were inspired to get started?

A: The movement began on a Tuesday in early May of 2020. The pandemic was raging with lockdown restrictions in place, yet I kept having this itching desire to go outside and do something to give back to my community. Lucky for me, I had a friend, Wanda McNealy, who was feeling the exact same way so together we decided to safely head out to our university park-blocks and pick up trash while equipped with gloves and masks. It was so fun, easy and fulfilling that we wanted to do it every week and realized why doesn’t everyone around the world do it every week? 

Q: What projects are you currently working on?

A: It's now Earth Month which might be the busiest time of the year for me and our movement. Tuesdays for Trash has a lineup of events coming up which includes a collaborative initiative with Ocean Heroes Network encouraging our networks to pick up trash every Tuesday with opportunities to win some books about climate activism! More info can be found at this registration link and on our T4T Instagram

Checkout our Linktree for more worldwide events including a trail cleanup April 17th!

Q: Who are your role models/mentors? How have they inspired you and your campaign?

A: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg are my biggest role models. They’re both young and powerful women in industries built to suppress their voices yet have taken charge and shown the world just how capable they are of making drastic waves. I’m really inspired by them because their notoriety developed from a place of passion and motivation towards making this planet a better place for everyone as opposed to fame or fortune. 

Q: What is one of the most important lessons you have learned as an activist?

A: Intersectionality and accessibility are critical to any and every kind of activist work. If you’re not actively being an ally and working towards equitable solutions there will always be more work to be done. 

Q: If you could say one thing to the leader of your state or country, what would it be and why?

A: I’d ask Biden why more BIPOC youth don’t have a seat at the table in our political system and what he plans to do about creating the space for us so we can ensure a livable future on this planet. 

Q: If you could give any piece of advice to other youth joining the fight against plastic pollution, what would you say?

A: It won’t be easy and perfection is impossible to achieve but you can do your best to lessen the impact of the crisis and be proud of that. Also get really good at taking care of yourself before trying to take care of the world. 

Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to share?

A: Activism fatigue is real, notice the signs and take breaks whenever you can!


Rapid Fire Questions

Q: Activist You Admire

A: Wawa Gatheru 💚

Q: What You’re Watching/Listening To Right Now

A: Currently listening to the podcast How to Save A Planet on Spotify and watching Grand Army on Netflix!

Q: Fun Fact About You

A: I have the deed to a star in the universe named after me!

Q: Recommended Reading

A: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield. The best book I’ve ever read hands down. Also loved reading All We Can Save by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth

Q: Reusable Item You Always Remember

A: bamboo utensils, straws, tote bag, masks, and a water bottle

Sharona collecting COVID-19 mask pollution