Rishika Vinnakota, a 17-year-old student from California, grew up in a household where reusing, reducing, and recycling was the norm. However, she soon realized that many people weren't practicing the same habits.
"I hope that if I help enough people adopt better sustainable practices, I can help implement long-lasting changes in all industries."
She decided to use her passion for entrepreneurship and the environment to help people make positive changes in their lives and promote more sustainable industries by offering solutions and perspectives. "I hope that if I help enough people adopt better sustainable practices, I can help implement long-lasting changes in all industries," she said.
As an immigrant and woman of color pursuing a male-dominated career path, Rishika understands what it means to face a challenge. Her life experiences have exposed her to unique ideas and problems that have lit her fire and influenced her interests. "I find motivation in challenging the norm by asking the unasked questions and solving the unsolvable problems," she said. "I am deeply passionate about storytelling and perspectives. I enjoy connecting with the people around me, and so I actively seek out places where I can connect and discuss important topics with lots of people."
Rishika is the CEO of Reusii, a youth-led reusable bag company, and the CMO of Hydrope, a reusable water bottle initiative. Her businesses seek to make sustainable products more affordable and accessible for everyone and offer support to other organizations that help the environment. Rishika values educating others about their environmental impact and ways to be more conscious. "The more people I can help through my efforts, the greater impact we can have on the future," she said.
"The more people I can help through my efforts, the greater impact we can have on the future."
Rishika was honored for her Environmental work through The ConversationaLIST, our annual honoree list recognizing exceptional Gen Z'ers using their voices for good. Rishika realized the impact of her voice when her team made its first sale. “My team and I were incredibly happy that someone liked our product and the fact that we would be helping them adopt a better, sustainable habit,” she said. “From then on, each sale wasn't just a number but rather one other person creating less waste in our world.”
As a senior in high school, college is next on the list for Rishika. She plans to study business and continue her entrepreneurial endeavors and promote sustainability in her new community. “I have tons of ideas for sustainable products and businesses and cannot wait to get equipped with the skills I need to elevate my current efforts,” she said. “I don't see myself stopping the work I do anytime soon.”
Ultimately, Rishika hopes to leave the world a better place than she found it by uplifting her community and inspiring others. “I hope I'm remembered as an individual who contributed something great to the world,” she said. “I want to be known for challenging the norm and taking charge.”
Rishika said she identifies with The Conversationalist because she shares a similar vision for the future. She hopes that Gen Z can help build a more unified world, which she believes looks like a team aligned under a similar mission, by using their voices to speak out and have conversations that matter. "By talking about the issues that matter and understanding all perspectives, we can establish respect for everyone and all ideas," she said.
"I gain more hope for our futures when I see kids taking the initiative.”
Rishika is inspired by her fellow Gen Z leaders taking action in the environmental space and beyond. “As the next generation of leaders and innovators, I gain more hope for our futures when I see kids taking the initiative,” she said. “They inspire me to do my part and amplify others' voices."
Although the past years have brought uncertainty and struggle, Rishika remains hopeful for the future that Gen Z is building together. "Growing up and being exposed to so much destruction and injustice is heartbreaking, but this pandemic has brought out the best in so many people and Gen Z,” she said. “I am in awe of what we have done and what we have plans to do next.”
Big snaps to Rishika Vinnakota for all her efforts to promote sustainable products and more ethical businesses. Keep up with her on Instagram to learn more about her work and how you can support Reusii and Hydrope.