Getting Involved Locally to Overcome Climate Change

Chances are that you’ve seen news on TV or your newspaper or the Web about polar icecaps melting, or rising sea levels, or changing weather patterns. It’s easy to be an observer on the sidelines, and let the news happen on its own.

We can take steps on our own to live more energy efficient lifestyles, like purchasing hybrid cars, or using public transportation more frequently, or buying energy saving household appliances, and conserving energy more wisely where we work and where we live.

The problem of climate change can seem overwhelming though. Most of us aren’t in positions where we can influence public policy, or the actions of large corporations, or come up with scientific breakthroughs that bring clean energy to the world. But we can act locally, and we can help spread awareness, and become informed on the issues involved, and share that knowledge with others.

How much do you know about what is going on in your own community to combat climate change?

Local Environmental Groups

Many communities have local environmental groups that would love to see more participation from people in their area.

A couple near me that are very active, and focus upon a mix of education and activity are the Virginia Conservation Network and the Piedmont Environmental Council.

Have you looked for similar groups in your area? Chances are that they would like you to find them.

Local Government Initiatives

Another way to become involved locally is in your government, whether on a town or county or state or province level.

One of the things that attracted me to the town I live in now is the Green Initiative (pdf) program they’ve been putting in place to substantially reduce the carbon footprint of the area.

What is your local government doing to help fight climate change? One way to find out is to do a search like the following to find government organizations in your area:

environment [insert state/county/country/town name here]

A search in my area pointed me to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality,

Local Educational Environmental Activity

Local Universities and schools are another place to look to see how educational institutions in your area are getting envolved in the environment. The following search might help

environment [insert state/province/county/town name here]

I was surprised but also excited to see that the Virginia Military Institute has been hosting an environmental symposium to help educate people on environmental issues for the past 20 years. I also learned about the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia.

What are the schools near you doing to help raise environmental awareness, and action?

Environmental Actions in Business

How green is your grocer? Your auto mechanic? Your plumber? What are large businesses doing in your area to help the environment? It doesn’t hurt to ask them.

Are there any businesses involved in green technology near you? Why not find out, and contact them to see what they do?

Are there any initiatives in your area to help companies near you become more green? Is the local Chamber of Commerce spreading green ideas?

As consumers, we have some power to choose which goods we buy, and which services we use, and our choices can make a difference. Looking for socially responsible businesses to deal with is another way that we can help make a difference.

Tools to help promote local environmental activities:

1. If you would like to find others in your area who might be interested in a cleaner and greener earth, you might want to consider finding them through the creation of a group at

2. If you don’t want to go through the steps of organizing something by yourself, another way of finding people locally who are concerned about reducing waste and reusing things that might otherwise end up in a landfill is through sites such as the Freecycle Network. Craig’s List also has a “Free” section in their “For Sale” area where you might find a wide range of things offered that otherwise might be brought to the local landfill.

3. If you want to let others in your area know about events that might help the environment, one place to do so is

4. Many local environmental groups have presences in social networks such as Facebook – an example of one organization that is local to me using Facebook is the: Piedmont Environmental Council on Facebook. They also report local events on their own site, from ones that they sponsor to others initiated by other organizations – Upcoming Events – Piedmont Environmental Council. Where are local environmental groups in your area spreading the news?

5. Another place to meet people locally who are interested in making a difference locally is Green Drinks International.

6. You may also be able to learn about meetings, seminars, and activities in your area that benefit the environment by searching for your town or county in Twitter, and seeing if you can find a group like the Virginia Conservation Network, which does a great job of spreading awareness in my area.

7. If you have the energy, the inclination, and the time, using a blog to let others know what is going on in your community can be another great way to help raise awareness, and get others involved.


No doubt about it, climate change is a global phenomenon, but you don’t need to be an environmental scientist, or the president of a country, or the leader of an international environmental nonprofit to help make a difference. Do what you can in your own neighborhood, and encourage your neighbors to do so as well.

If we start in our homes, and in our towns, and set achievable goals that can be met, and build upon those successes, our grassroots efforts can make a difference.

This post is part of Blog Action Day 2009, which has asked bloggers to show unity in blogging about Climate Change today to spark and inspire discussion of the topic on a large scale. I’d love to hear your thoughts on climate change, and things that people can do to help make a difference.

I’d especially love to hear your experiences making a difference locally, through interactions with local environmental groups or government or educational institutions, or grass roots movements.



Author: Bill Slawski

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