Reading the news lately? Environmental protection rollbacks and climate change inaction, especially in the United States, getting you down? All hope isn’t lost, because YOU have the power to impact policy even if you aren’t old enough to vote yet.
Our Students in Action activity has easy-to-follow steps and helpful downloadable resources to motivate you to start making a change. If you haven’t already, register here to unlock this activity as well as all 40+ of our activities.
For April’s Earth Month, I called my legislators and community leaders weekly about environmental issues I thought they should be aware of and to ask them to support relevant policies. Here are some tips to help you take on Students in Action:
• Think of one issue/problem/concern you want to talk about on your call. Prepare a short paragraph (in writing, if it helps you to focus) where you state your name and city/zipcode that you’re from, address your representative (what’s their name?), summarize your issue/problem/concern in one sentence, give a reason why it’s important to take legislative action, and point out an existing bill or an ideal bill your legislator can sign.
• Research your issue/problem/concern to add information that will strengthen your request. For example, you can quote statistics and/or point out similar policies your representative supported in the past.
• Be polite and considerate to the person answering your call (say thank you at the end of the call!). The staff member that takes your call will most likely refrain from commenting though he/she will take notes on your call so don’t be surprised if your call ends up being very quick.
• If you are calling your representative more than one time, be sure to take notes on what your spoke about and whether your representative’s staff commented on your issue/problem/concern. You can use this information to see if there’s been an update from the legislator on your issue/problem/concern.
There are many resources to make calling or writing to your representatives easy nowadays! I’ve curated a couple of my favorites (please note these resources only apply to legislators/legislation in the US):
• 5 Calls summarizes a variety of issues (some environmental — if you don’t see any of the front page, be sure to click “view more issues”), lists the phone number(s) of the representative(s) you should reach, and provides you with a simple script (which you can customize) to follow during your call.
• The 65 has scripts for a number of issues, some environmental, with the names and phone numbers of your representative(s).
• Countable has a page devoted to environmental bills currently being considered. Online users submit their opinions in favor or opposition of the bills, which are upvoted by the Countable community. In addition, on each of the bills, a summary of the bill and the progress of the bill (introduced –> House –> Senate –> President) are available. If you register/login, you can even see how your representatives voted on the bill.
• Write to Congress uses your address to find your representatives, which you pick from a drop down list to get their mailing address, and provides you with a letter you can customize on a particular issue or you can even choose a blank template for writing about an issue/problem/concern of your choice. After you finish editing, the website allows you to print out the letter to mail to your representative.
• Town Hall Project allows you to find events near you where you can speak out about your issue/problem/concern of choice at your representative’s event.
• The League of Conservation Voters compiles a scorecard of whether your representatives voted pro- or anti-environment on environmental bills. Be sure to check out your state’s affiliated organization related to the national League of Conservation Voters for scorecards of your local legislators and whether they have voted pro- or anti-environment.
• Dial Congress is a Chrome extension that displays the phone number of the particular representative mentioned on any webpage you’re visiting when you hover over their name. It also lists the state they represent and their party affliation. See an issue they support/oppose, tell them your opinion!