How to Encourage Your Local Government to Go Green
It’s always been important to live sustainably as individuals. Our smallest actions can make a significant impact as a whole! But it’s even more crucial for our local governments to realize their own climate change responsibility. These representatives have the means to set regulations that push us toward a sustainable future.
Here are a few ways that you can urge your local government to do better.
1. Send an Email or Letter
A simple effort like a printed letter can make a larger difference than you realize. It’s important for representatives to maintain open communications between them and their constituents. That’s why they’ll always respond to messages — but especially well-worded emails and letters. After you find their contact information, it’s time to consider what you’d like to say about local government sustainability.
You’ll want to cover these points:
- Start with your name, town and why you’ve chosen to write.
- Transition to details about the law you’d like to discuss — its title, information and why it’s bad (or good) for the environment.
- Close with a paragraph that asks your representative to take action.
If you don’t have a specific law or regulation that you want to address, it’s fine to speak more generally. You can talk about goals you want your representatives to meet, too. You may also want to look for templates online that directly relate to the topics you want to approach.
2. Make a Phone Call
A phone call can be a fast way to advocate for change. Be warned that your representative’s staff — or voicemail — may answer instead. Don’t let those obstacles discourage you. You can still make a meaningful connection and show that you care. If you’re a confident phone speaker, it may be best to choose this option anyway. Your phone call doesn’t need to be more than a few minutes long.
Like with the email or letter, you’ll want to choose a topic to focus on beforehand. For example, you could see whether your state has adopted a climate change action plan like several states on the East Coast. What can they do to create even more change alongside these efforts? It’s essential to hold your representatives accountable for their actions — both good and bad.
3. Create a Community Petition
If you’ve already sent an email and made a call, it’s time to take another route. An online petition can be an effective way to engage your community as you draw attention to an important issue. They’re easy to sign and share within seconds. You may not be able to gain national recognition for a local issue, but you may reach nearby towns that have an interest. The more attention, the better.
Like with the other methods, it’s essential to focus on a single “ask.” You could push your local government to install more bike lanes as a way to limit vehicle-related carbon emissions that impact the planet. Maybe you want your representatives to ban plastic straws and takeout containers. Feel free to ask your friends and family for ideas. You’ll be able to create a more impactful petition if you know what people want.
Make sure to include a brief explanation about the cause, as well as why everyone should care. A few fast facts will help convey your point.
4. Register to Vote
Here’s the best way to advocate for local government sustainability. You should always make an effort to vote, especially when it’s time to elect new representatives. The voter turnout for midterm elections has rarely ever exceeded 70% — even though these elections impact citizens directly. You can take a massive step toward a greener city when you give progressive-minded representatives a platform.
After you register to vote, you’ll want to set a reminder for Election Day with a note about where you can vote. Then, it’s time to bother your friends until they register with you. Organize a group to vote together. It’s a perfect opportunity for everyone to make their voices count.
Advocate for Local Government Sustainability With These Tips
It doesn’t have to be a hassle to push for change. With a quick email, call or petition, you can make a direct impact and help drive the conversation in a productive direction. Those efforts, combined with your vote on Election Day, can make a real difference. Use these suggestions to urge your local government to go green!
Bio: Emily covers topics in sustainability, conservation and green technology. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.