This blog is part of How to Take Climate Action, a series that unpacks what we can each do to influence the systems around us and reverse the climate crisis.
Our power comes from the roles we play in our households, at work, as participants in financial markets, and as members of local, national, and global communities.
In this chapter of the Climate Action Playbook, we break down how to take action in your local community.
The climate crisis is a local issue.
Record wildfires. Suffocating smog. Vanishing coastlines. Global climate impacts are felt in every community differently – and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Community advocacy is critical for raising awareness and shaping a just and equitable future.
This chapter of Joro’s Climate Action Playbook unpacks how to get involved with efforts to address the climate crisis and environmental injustice in your community.
First, we’ll break down four steps to activate your inner climate activist. Then, we’ll take a closer look at six specific ways to take action and maintain momentum.
Get Started: Activate Your Inner Activist
Community climate action can ripple outward and change the world – whether you’re advocating alongside family and friends, faith-based organizations, community associations, or local environmental groups.
But getting involved can be overwhelming: with so many urgent issues, where do you begin? These simple steps can help you develop the climate action plan that works best for you.
Step 1: Pick Your Cause
No one can reverse the climate crisis alone – it’s going to take a lot of people working to solve a lot of different issues. Choose a specific cause you’re passionate about to help keep you engaged for the long run.
Write It Down: Start by drawing your climate action Venn diagram – What are you good at? What’s the work that needs doing? What brings you joy? The issues at the center of your graph reveal where you best fit in the movement. Listen to this episode of the How to Save a Planet podcast to learn more.
Educate Yourself: Not sure where to start? Get up to speed by reading and listening to diverse perspectives on climate. Joro’s 2021 Climate Resource List can help you hone in on which causes matter most to you.
Step 2: Find Your People
Once you’ve decided which issue you’d like to get involved with, look for value-aligned groups in your community. Joining a specific initiative helps you build a like-minded network and understand where your contribution matters most.
We all Belong in the Movement: Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you from taking action. The climate movement is made up of people from all walks of life – your participation is valid and valuable. Commit to attending a single event to beat your nerves and feel more comfortable.
Step 3: Define Your Commitment
Defining exactly how you’ll get involved sets clear parameters for success. This can look like a specific monthly donation, a set number of volunteer hours, or regularly attending an ongoing event.
Small steps can build momentum and lead to major impact – so set the gears in motion as soon as you can. Attend a community meeting, set up a recurring donation, or sign up for your first volunteer shift. Keep reading for a few specific ways to get involved.
Maintain Momentum: Practice Community Climate Action
1. Volunteer Your Time
Volunteer with a local climate group to influence policy, raise awareness, and fight against environmental injustice in your community. Many organizations depend on volunteers to function and are willing to accommodate your schedule and personal interests.
Regional Chapters of National Environmental Groups: Most major climate organizations are made up of smaller chapters working on local issues. Groups like 350.org, Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, and Extinction Rebellion tap local volunteers to lobby for policy change, drive awareness campaigns, and coordinate community demonstrations.
Local Climate Justice Organizations: Marginalized populations are often disproportionately burdened by the adverse impacts of climate change. Research the issues facing your community and join a group fighting for equitable environmental policy and public health.
Local Climate Demonstrations: Climate protests raise public awareness and motivate policy-makers to act on urgent issues. Schools, local advocacy groups, and regional chapters host virtual and in-person marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations at the community-level. Support the movement by attending and volunteering at events in your town or city.
Other Community Groups: Not every organization working to enrich your community is climate-oriented, but many still drive initiatives that benefit the planet. Follow local groups on social media to see when they’re planning environmental actions and get involved.
2. Donate to Environmental Causes
The best way to practice local climate action is by showing up in person. But, sometimes, we simply can’t.If you’re strapped for time because of work or family obligations, or health issues keep you close to home, support causes you believe in with financial donations.
Large organizations receive the bulk of donor contributions, but local groups are often better equipped to address specific issues where you live. Set a monthly donation goal and follow local climate groups and activists on social media to stay current on fundraising initiatives.
3. Get Involved in Local Policy
While federal elections are important, state and local governments wield real power over the environmental decision-making that takes place within their borders. Does your city or state have a climate change action plan to reduce emissions and build climate resilience?
Pressure Elected Officials: Research legislation where you live – then, contact your mayor, city councilors, or state legislators and push them to prioritize equitable climate policy. Websites like 5 Calls generate contact lists and scripts tailored to issues in your community.
Support Climate Candidates: Donate your time and money to regional politicians campaigning on a climate agenda. If you don’t see a candidate that reflects your values, run for office yourself – or encourage someone you believe in to get involved with local politics.
4. Advocate for Climate Education
The youngest generations will inherit the worst of the climate crisis. But, even though four out of five parents want their kids to learn about climate change, only half of their teachers incorporate it into their lessons.
If you’re a parent, attend school board and PTA meetings and advocate for climate education, student environmental action clubs, and campus greening opportunities. And whether you have kids or not, encourage the educators in your life to add children’s climate books to their curriculum.
5. Activate Your Circle
Most of us are connected to our community in some way – whether through faith-based institutions, neighborhood associations, or professional peer groups.
Even if your network isn’t climate-oriented, chances are you have connections who are concerned about our impact on the planet. But studies show that people tend to shy away from bringing up the climate when they don’t hear others talking about it often.
Break the “spiral of silence” and talk to people in your community about local environmental issues. Our guide to climate conversations breaks down five tips for meaningful dialogue.
Then, take action with your network:start a community garden initiative, organize a political action campaign, or fundraise for local climate justice initiatives.
6. Practice What You Preach
Part of local climate action is modeling what it looks like to live lighter. When you take action to reduce your personal carbon footprint, talk about what you are doing and why with your friends, family, and community members. Download Joro to take control of your emissions and encourage your friends and community members to join you on the app.
Community action is just one way we’re powerful when we act together. Stay tuned for chapter five of Joro’s climate action playbook, where we unpack how to leverage your influence as a citizen of a country to advocate for an equitable, fossil-fuel-free future.