You don't need to have billions or hold office to make a big difference. Just check out how this year's nine eco-all-stars—from a Chilean dam buster to a snowboarder who's seen the light—are changing the world.
"We're putting too much into the ocean and taking too much out," says Wallace J. Nichols, skipping the mind-numbing stats a guy with his credentials—he's an Ocean Conservancy senior scientist and a top sea turtle expert—could recite in his sleep.
"Putting too much in? Go a week without creating plastic waste.
Taking too much out? Check out ShrimpSuck.org." The site, started by Nichols in 2007, urges consumers to stop eating the country's most popular seafood, which is typically caught using turtle- and dolphin-killing nets.
It's one of many issues Santa Cruz, California–based Nichols has tackled while juggling research (he was the first to discover that Pacific loggerheads migrate almost 7,500 miles to the coast of Japan) and working with more than a dozen conservation groups.
This year, among other projects, he'll help Mexican villagers develop profitable turtle-watching tours and lead the Ocean Conservancy's first SEE Turtles trip, which puts travelers face to face with the creatures.
"Sea turtles are sentinels for the ocean," he says. "They're my portal into everything."
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