As a high school student in drought stricken Reno, Nevada, Celeste Tinajero couldn’t bear to sit idly by as her school’s outdated toilets and faucets leaked water day in and day out. So in her sophomore year Tinajero — who from an early age had been deeply influenced by her mother’s waste conscious and socially responsible values — rallied her peers to send a $12,000 grant proposal to the nonprofit GREENevada (Growing Resources for Environmental Education in Nevada) seeking to renovate Reed High School’s bathrooms. Tinajero and Reed High School were awarded the grant in 2011 to install new technology in the school’s bathrooms, including low flush toilets, auto-sensor lights, and automatic hand dryers and faucets. Motivated by the victory, Tinajero tackled another issue plaguing her school — single use plastic bottles. In 2012, her high school was awarded another $3,500 grant to cover the cost of installing a “hydration station” where students could refill their water bottles. However, the school building was old and its walls contained asbestos which needed to be removed before the hydration station could be installed. To cover the cost of this involved, Tinajero and her schoolmates raised funds by selling reusable water bottles at the school’s annual “Reedstock” festival.
Tinajero graduated from Reed in 2013, leaving behind a legacy of driven change-making. Today she continues to help create positive change in Reno by designing curriculum on sustainable living for local schools and by working as a lead researcher for the Reno “Bag the Ban” campaign against plastic bags.