Want to make a difference in local politics? Write to your local leaders to let them know about your environmental concerns- whether it's encouraging beach clean-ups or asking leaders to reduce single-use plastic usage.
Ensure your school has established a Grades of Green Team to help implement Grades of Green’s Research and Advocacy and any other Grades of Green Activities your school takes on in the future.
SET GOALS AND START TRACKING
What do you want to accomplish by contacting your local leaders? Set a goal and begin tracking your progress so you know when it’s time to CELEBRATE! Record your starting baseline metrics or current scenario before beginning the letter writing campaign so you know when you’ve accomplished your goal!
RESEARCH YOUR TOPIC
See if there are any local issues that you would like to shed more light on. Once you have settled on a topic, then you can begin further research on that topic of your choice. When researching, make sure to use a well-known research source to have the most accurate and up to date information in your presentation. Websites ending in .org or .gov tend to have the most accurate information. You could also try Google Scholar for your research. Stay away from websites like Wikipedia or blogposts for your research data. If you are still having trouble finding a topic, browse through the Grades of Green Activities to spark an idea! Additionally, check out this list of environmental issues for potential research topics.
RESEARCH LEGISLATOR INFORMATION
Be sure to look up your legislator's contact information and be sure that the contact address, email, or social media account are all correct before continuing. In addition, be sure to address your legislator or local leader properly by using the proper title such as "Senator," "Representative," "Assemblyman," "President," etc. In the body of the letter or email, avoid entitled statements such as, "as a taxpayer and citizen, I believe..." Instead, begin with the topic that you want to address immediately and add your research, pictures, and other collected materials to support your argument. Lastly, keep the letter short and direct to keep their attention. By creating a professional and neutral letter, there is more reason for a legislator to take your words into account.
ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO JOIN
To maximize visibility, consider a letter writing campaign to contact local leaders in large numbers regarding the same issue all at once. Organize by explaining the issue to your community and ask people to complete a template or ask them to write their own letter to local leaders to create change. Be sure that the contact information, message, and physical materials for letter writing or emailing are present so that people can easily share the message. Document your actions with photos, videos, and presentations to share online.
MEASURE THE RESULTS
Remember that goal you set earlier? How’d it go? How many students did you reach or how many gallons of water did you save, or how many trees did you plant, or how much waste did you divert? If changes weren't made, let the community know so that there is increased communal pressure on politicians to create environmental change.
CELEBRATE AND SHARE THE RESULTS!
Congratulations! You completed "Write to Your Legislators" Activity and we couldn’t be prouder. You helped inspire and empower students to care for the environment, and the earth is just that much better off as a result! Email us the results you achieved, as well as any photos or videos of your completed Grades of Green Activity. Tag @gradesofgreen on social media so we can help share your story! Whether it’s “before/after” photos or videos showing how you took on the Activity or a shot of your Grades of Green Team in action, email your Advisor and tag us on social media so we can help shout it from the mountains on our website, e-newsletter, and social media. And don’t forget to also let your school community and city government know about your great and green accomplishments.
MAKE IT SUSTAINABLE
What can you do to make it this Activity sustainable at your school for years to come? Brainstorm with your Grades of Green Team ways to make the Activity sustainable and part of your school’s everyday culture. We suggest making Grades of Green positions permanent, as well as adding tips and suggestions to your PTA or volunteer handbook, and adding a date to the calendar now to re-educate students next year as well!
Benefit to Students
Students will learn how to research topics on their own accord and learn how to contact leaders in their community. By learning these basic skills, students can implement these to lead others to create a positive impact and improve their own leadership skills.
Benefits to the Environment
By raising awareness of a certain environmental injustice in your community, there is a higher chance for people to help improve an environmental situation. By bringing this to the attention of local leaders, leaders may be inclined to help to improve their own community and popularity by addressing these concerns from the public.