Political Activism

By working with the folks who make decisions in your community (and that means your home, school, neighborhood, town) you can make important changes to protect your piece of the Earth. You don't need to be old enough to vote. You just need to care about what's going on and be willing to make some noise about it. Every community has its environmental challenges. Your town may not be a toxic waste dump oozing next door, but it may have an out of control traffic problem or a hiking trail that's littered with broken glass. Whatever the issue, let's assume you'd like to see things change. How does that happen? Only when people who feel the same way about something work together and make it happen! Check this out...

Back in 1990, when Joel A. Rubin was a 9th grader at Cape Elizabeth High School, he became a teen hero of the environmental movement. After viewing a videotape of dolphins being slaughtered in tuna nets he got so upset he decided to do something to save them. Joel got the addresses of three senior executives at H.J. Heinz, the parent company of Star-Kist Tuna. Then Joel, and 75 other biology students deluged the executives with letters expressing how they felt about the company's policy toward dolphins. Ten days before Earth Day 1990, Star-Kist announced it would no longer buy, process, or sell tuna caught at dolphins' expense!

Joel's environmental activism inspired young people all around the country. In the fall of 1990, members of KAP (Kids Against Pollution - a group no longer around) mailed 3,000 letters to McDonald's headquarters begging the company to banish its Styrofoam containers. The decision makers at McDonald's read their mail and announced a switch to paper-based wrappings. They also agreed to work with the Environmental Defense Fund on a waste reduction program.

So you see, it can be done.

What is an environmental issue you'd like to deal with in your own community? Doesn't matter what it is... the same principles apply.

  1. Talk it up to friends (who else feels the way you do?)
  2. Find out who has the power to make the decision (school principal, mayor, head of a corporation, congressperson)
  3. Get the word out to the people in power that you want change!
    • Circulate petitions
    • Stage a protest (invite the local press)
    • Organize a letter, postcard, email or phone campaign
    • Boycott a product, event, company
    • Lobby (work to convince lawmakers to vote for or against an issue)

Check out other Environmental Organizations



Got a success story about how environmental activism created change?

We want to hear it!



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last updated January 5, 2005
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