Your journey in climate activism starts now
Want to get involved in the climate movement and need some advice? Learn from representatives from four climate organizations and get inspired to tackle climate change in your own way.
By Lindsay Davis
August 9, 2021
Are you interested in joining the climate movement but don’t know where to start? You’re not alone! The climate movement is growing rapidly. There are over 50 environmental organizations working on policy, energy, conservation, and much more. While the number of organizations focused on fighting climate change is impressive, it can also be very daunting to know where you can find a community and make an impact.
I’ll walk you through my journey with the climate movement and share what representatives from four different climate organizations recommend to people who want to get involved. Follow along to the end to hear what they have to say. While we normally focus on the financial aspect of the climate movement, we’re using a broader lens to highlight other ways our younger audience can take action!
My sustainability journey
I got involved in the climate movement at a young age during high school through my school’s sustainability club. You can start your journey by investigating local organizations or clubs near you, or participating in a national organization like the ones featured below.
I started fundraising initiatives, planned school-wide events, hosted meetings on the intersectional nature of climate change with other global issues, and presented educational tips to the school community. The partnerships that arose from these initiatives were an important aspect of the club’s work. For example, we held a 5K fun run where the proceeds went to One Tree Planted, an organization you’ll hear from in this article! Our club also highlighted the importance of supporting organizations that need grassroots participation to create real change, like HS4CD (High Schoolers for Carbon Dividends).
While these initiatives were meaningful, I also wanted to tackle climate solutions that had not yet been a focus at my school. To that end, I created a divestment group on campus that initiated conversations with the school administration, trustees, and fellow students on the importance of divesting the school’s investments in fossil fuels.
As you can see, joining the sustainability club on campus was my first step in taking action against climate change. I’m not alone – many other Gen Z climate activists had a similar start. And now, I am able to leverage my knowledge on climate change in the climate finance space!
Recommendations from four leading climate organizations
My path is just one way to take climate action - there are many others! Representatives from four climate organizations spoke with me about their respective organizations. As leaders and organizers in the climate movement, their advice inspired me, and I hope it will do the same for you.
Caitlin Griffin is the Fundraising Manager at One Tree Planted, which plants a tree for every dollar donated. Their tree planting occurs around the world, and they have built a large community through their events and mission.
Here is what they had to say:
What is a piece of advice you would give to someone just starting to get involved in the climate movement?
Nornberg: “There are lots and lots of organizations out there, and I think it’s always worth doing research on different groups. At times [it] can be daunting, but I think generally if you persevere and stick to the mission, and you really believe in the cause, there are all these great ways to contribute…Contributing to multiple organizations at once!”
Griffin: “It’s super important to speak up and use your voice to advocate for climate change and climate change mitigation,” as well as “understanding policies within your local government and really voting for what makes sense and what the right intentions are…The fundamental action we can take is just putting the right policy in place to fight this battle.”
Alcena: “Everything is the climate movement -- your day-to-day life and the way that you move and make conscious decisions and connect with people and your environment.”
Schroeder: “There’s no rule book for this…honestly you best aid the movement when you do what you're most passionate about…and you really only learn by doing.”
Why do you think it’s important to act with a community of people to create change?
Nornberg: Highlighting the bi-partisan nature of the organization, “One thing that’s really unique about carbon dividends is that they’re able to get a seat at the table for everyone.”
Griffin: “I don’t think anything can happen without a group of people. It works as a domino effect, so as one person raises their voice and advocates and everyone follows.”
Alcena: “Stronger together always.”
Schroeder: “Local grassroots organizing is severely underestimated…communities are where the mobilization happens, it’s where the people decide this is something we want and need”
The range of climate-focused organizations is always growing. How often do you collaborate with other organizations?
Nornberg: “Working alone just generally in life is much more difficult to get something accomplished than working as a team.” For HS4CD, “as more and more people got involved, the organization got stronger.”
Griffin: “Every day! That’s kind of how we function.”
Alcena: “YCL is specifically so collaborative centered, it’s something that comes up in every one of our meetings.” YCL connects with organizations “who are our natural allies in this movement and also looking at widening the tent…Collaboration for us has been really important to get into these spaces or to build trust within different groups and communities so that we can share knowledge.”
Schroeder: “We work with national FFF chapters and international scale to do climate strikes, but the rest is partnerships on campaigns. Oftentimes, strikes have narratives…and we try to find partners and collaborators in the community who have similar messages…and it’s the goal to unite everyone under the umbrella.”
GreenPortfolio focuses on getting everyone invested in a clean future with a whole range of financial products, from bank accounts to actual investment opportunities. How do you and/or your organization view these growing climate solutions?
Nornberg: “[A] financial approach to combating climate change is really important. The carbon dividends policy is very much a free market solution.”
Griffin: “Critical in mitigating climate change is investing in clean energy and rectifying the way we have lived.”
Alcena: “These climate solutions are part of the wave of conscious consumerism and being mindful of where our money is going…Money is power, so what does it mean for us to use our dollars wisely as individuals?” YCL “also has a growing finance sphere - investing in youth-led green entrepreneurship.”
Schroeder: “We see that the government is not taking enough action and we have to push them to do that, but at the same time we don’t want the climate solutions to be exploited. There is always something people are trying to make money off of…so investing in rebuilding is interesting…I also think that a large part of the movement is going against these banks that have invested billions of dollars in climate destruction and fossil fuel infrastructure.”
Join these organizations and take climate action
Join any of these organizations today and take your first step towards fighting climate change! Who knows? It might even lead you to more organizations down the road like it did for me. Here’s how to get involved:
HS4CD: Sign up on their website and join the movement.
Youth Climate Lab: Follow @youthclimatelab on Instagram and check out the website for youth opportunities.
Fridays for Future: Visit their website and join or start a local group in your community or contribute to a national strike!
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