The chat with Grandma that inspired an activist.

By Staff


When Marc Kielburger was 12, his mother asked him to help clean the house—and an award-winning science project was born.

So was Marc’s passion for the environment.

Determined to get out of chores, Marc started reading the ingredients on the household cleanser out loud to his mom. He worried what the hard to pronounce substances might do to him—and the planet.

He didn’t get out of cleaning the bathroom, but his ingenuity led to some surprising discoveries.

Marc realized he’d never noticed a single cleaning product at his grandmother’s house. “But Mimi, you have the cleanest house ever, how?” Marc asked her. She took lemon juice from her fridge and borax, baking soda and vinegar from her cupboard. In no time, she combined these ingredients to make a cleanser. To Marc, keeping house was like a mini science project. It became a passion and a science fair project.

Marc collected all the homemade cleaner recipes from Mimi’s friends, tested the recipes at home and published the best in a little book. At that time, companies like Seventh Generation, who make plant-based cleaners that get the job done with no risk to the people using them or the planet, were far less prevalent. That made what Marc was doing quite special.

Not only was the project chosen as ‘Best in Canada,’ Marc became a prominent youth voice for protecting the environment, gathering 5,000 signatures on a petition. To collect so many signatures, he enlisted his younger brother, Craig, who was only six at the time.

Craig watched his brother take action on an issue he was very passionate about and later, that would inspire Craig to take a stand against child labour. WE was born out of two brothers’ courage and passion to make a difference.

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