SANTA MONICA, Calif. — At 6-and-a-half years old, Cody Kay has been cleaning up his neighborhood for years.
As the Santa Monica native picks up trash around Crescent Bay Park, he talks about plastic waste with Spectrum News.
"When you just throw it into the trash, that makes it go in the landfill, and then it can't biodegrade, which means it just stays there and makes our world look yucky," Cody said.
Today he's invited some of his best friends and their parents for a park cleanup party to celebrate Plastic Free July.
"Everyone hold up your grabber," Cody said.
Plastic Free July is a global movement asking people to refuse single-use plastics.
Kay is taking after his dad Ben Kay, who is a scientist, educator and activist.
"What happens when you put plastic in the environment?" Ben Kay asked Cody.
Cody is an aspiring environmental engineer and envisions seeing a world free of plastic waste.
"I have so many ideas, for like, cleaning the beach in like five minutes. It sorts and strains microplastics," Cody said.
Cody loves animals and nature and is enthusiastic about protecting them.
"Sea turtles think that plastic bags are jellyfish, and they eat them, and it's bad for them," Cody said.
He started fighting for change at just 3 years old, testifying in front of the Santa Monica City Council, helping to pass an ordinance prohibiting food establishments from giving out certain single-use plastic items, and explaining what he found cleaning the beach.
"I picked up plastic, a plastic bag which was good," Cody said.
"And why are these things bad?" his father asked him.
"Because they're bad for the earth," Cody replied.
"Why? What happens when they go into the ocean?" Ben Kay said.
"They hurt the fishies," Cody said.
Cody shows off his purple cape at home, which he wears to clean the beach, turning into an earth-saving superhero called "Lightning Flash."
With plastic pollution being one of the largest environmental threats facing humans and animals globally, his father said fostering a concern for the environment starts at home.
"Bring them into nature, submerge them in wildlife and creepy-crawly things, and then they'll form an appreciation for those things and want to protect them," Ben Kay said.
Back at the park, the kids dump their buckets onto the tarp to see what they've collected.
And in just a short time, the amount for one park is staggering.
Cody then shows off some of his favorite sustainable items, that if everyone used, would replace the trash collected today.
It's a behavior that's ingrained in him and can hopefully inspire change in others.
"These replace plastic food bags," Cody said.
These habits will serve him well, showing that a new generation can make a difference by becoming young conservationists and young stewards who want to save the world.