South Korea’s Greener Is Cleaner, Climate Champ–Cherry Sung, Costa Rica’s PRETOMA

by | Dec 27, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

South Korea’s Greener Is Cleaner, Climate Champion, Cherry Sung, Costa Rica’s PRETOMA



Greener is Cleaner is an international organization founded in 2018 by Cherry Sung, a student at Chadwick International, South Korea. Its mission is to empower youth worldwide to take action for the environment and thus their futures. It all began for Sung when, in 2018, she suffered from severe anorexia nervosa and was hospitalized for three weeks. During that time, her only source of outside information was television documentaries – most of them about the environment and threats like plastic pollution, wildfires, and climate change – and Sung reached a tipping point. 

In an interview she said, “I realized that environmental issues affect my future, and that I could influence others.” Unable to return to school for a month following her hospital discharge, Sung decided she wanted to do something meaningful in her community, so she chose to focus on environmental action. Hence, Greener is Cleaner. How does Greener is Cleaner empower youth worldwide to take action on climate change? And why does it matter to us? Through projects that matter to all of us. Projects like Eco Loci, a  free virtual conference that allows youth worldwide to discuss and participate in activities about specific environmental issues and their solutions. Eco Loci 1’s theme was Youth for Change in the 21stCentury.” It took place on Feb 26, 2021. 98 participants, ranging in age from 8-40 (okay some really, really big kids), took part. 

Just five months later, Eco Loci 2 occurred in July, 2021. This time 191 people (about double Eco Loci One!), aged 13-29 participated in the two day virtual conference! It’s theme, “Bouncing Back from Challenges” had folks focus on Decreasing CO2 Emissions and Disposing Medical Waste. Eco Loci so nice, they had to hold it thrice! Eco Loci 3 took place over two days, March 5-6th 2022. Over 200 people took part, working on the sticky problem of stopping deforestation by 2030. Kids these days—showing up and showing out! 

DEEPER DIVE: Greener is Cleaner



Who exactly is this amazing, 15-year old young woman who went from debilitating anorexia to climate activist? Her name is Cherry Sung and she lives in Seoul, South Korea. After her hospital stay, recovering from anorexia, Cherry was prohibited from returning to school for a month. She said, “I realized that environmental issues affect my future, and that I could influence others. “I turned to environmental action, which is what I knew was needed.” 

One of Cherry’s main goals is to reduce waste in consumer products. In March 2020, she executed a plastic straw attack in which over 100 people collected plastic straws attached to beverage boxes made by Maeil Dairies Co. and returned them to the company along with a letter requesting the straws be eliminated. The COO responded with hand-written letters pledging to reduce plastic waste overall, and a month later announced plans to eliminate the straw from their drinking yogurt.  

Sung continued to pursue this strategy with other companies, in one instance garnering a face-to-face meeting with the Namyang corporation, resulting in them switching all of their oil-based plastics to corn PLA. With Greenpeace Korea Green New Deal Civilian Action, Sung led a group that monitors both the Korean National Assembly and the media, reporting on their activities and messaging around environmental issues. 

Cherry Sung likes to think globally (speaking at international conferences and actively participates in Model United Nations) and act locally. For example, she persuaded her school’s cafeteria to switch from plastic to biodegradable cups,and install water fountains to replace paper cups for water. 

Why does Cherry Sung matter to us? In her own words, “I used to be overwhelmed by so many urgent global agendas and wondered why the international community does not take action. Through my project, I learned that it was me who was not taking action. Once I started, I experienced making real change in my community. By starting small and taking action sustainably while expanding my project’s scope, I learned that ‘people power’ fuels the movement for change.” Cherry Sung is a 2021 Eco-Hero.

DEEPER DIVE: Greener is Cleaner, YouTube



PRETOMA, (Programa Restauracion de Tortugas Marinas) was founded by Randall Arauz. As a turtle biologist and conservationist, he worked with the shrimp industry in Costa Rica to reduce the sea turtle casualties associated with trawling. And thus PRETOMA was born. It’s a Non Profit Civil Association, headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica. It’s comprised of biologists, naturalists, conservationists, and citizens concerned over the plight of the sea turtles and the marine habitat in general.

The mission of PRETOMA is to protect, conserve, and restore, the populations of sea turtles that use the marine environment of Costa Rica to either nest, feed, or migrate. They also work to protect the diverse habitats along the Central American isthmus and international waters upon which they depend during their different life stages. It strives to work directly with the social groups that interact with the sea turtles, such as coastal communities and fishermen, respecting their cultural and economic needs. The organization is part of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. 

The DSCC is made up of over 100 non-government organizations, fishers organizations and law and policy institutes working together to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems. It aims to substantially reduce the greatest threats to life in the deep sea and to safeguard the long-term health, integrity and resilience of deep-sea ecosystems. Why does PRETOMA matter to us? Protecting biodiversity is a key element of slowing the worst effects of climate change. Randall Arauz is a 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize Winner.