Thinking of getting involved with Vermont’s largest environmental and consumer advocacy organization? Well, there’s no better time than now! With frightening roll-backs of environmental regulations and consumer protection taking place at the federal level, we here in Vermont once again must play our special and unique role and, as Calvin Coolidge put it, replenish the spirit of liberty for these United States!
There are many ways to get involved. Choose one of our legislative priorities below to find out how you can get involved.
Have an idea of a way you can help that you don’t see listed?
Reach out to our Field Director, Adam Maxwell, to chat about what you can do to help protect the health and well-being of Vermont’s people, environment, and locally based economy.
A Bigger Better Bottle Bill:
This legislative session we are working to make the Bottle Bill even stronger. VPIRG and our members have been defending this program for 45 years — and the Bottle Bill continues to keep tons of litter off of our highways and out of our rivers while providing individuals and organizations with a unique way to fundraise. Right now, VPIRG is working toward a measure that would expand the Bottle Bill to include water bottles, wine, and other containers not originally included in the law. It would also return the $1.5-4.2 million in unclaimed nickels (that currently goes to the beverage industry) back to the state.
How You Can Help:
- Writing or collecting community commentaries
Do you or someone you know have a great story about how the Bottle Bill has affected your life? Did a youth club or other charitable organization in your community use bottle deposits to raise money for a specific cause? Or perhaps you’ve been around Vermont for quite a long time and have seen the state’s roadways become a lot cleaner as a result of the bottle bill and increased recycling. Tell us your story and we may profile you on our website, help you transform your story into a letter to the editor, or invite you to testify in Montpelier!
- Contacting your legislator
This legislative session VPIRG is working hard to reclaim the unclaimed nickels the beverage industry retains when deposits go unreturned. These unclaimed nickels amount to millions of dollars a year we can invest right here at home. We are also seeking to expand the bottle bill to include things like water bottles and sports drink containers. If you support a bigger, better bottle bill, make sure your legislator knows it. Send them an email today!
- Recruit your neighbors
With so much competing for our attention – in our lives and in the news – it’s easy to miss out on important developments like this and the ways folks can get involved in making life better right here at home. You can help by sharing information about the Bigger Better Bottle Bill on social media, or on your local Front Porch Forum. Word of mouth recruitment, especially in the social media age, is critical to building political support for common sense solutions to our most pressing problems. Check out our fact sheet for information you can use to bring your neighbors on board, share our Better Bottle Bill video on social media, or reach out to our Consumer and Environmental Associate Ryan Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Climate and Clean Energy
Vermont has come a long way over the past decade in creating a robust renewable energy economy, but if we are going to truly do our part in addressing climate change in an equitable manner we have a lot of work ahead: defending net-metering, supporting and developing programs that help all Vermonters share in the benefits of our renewable energy, efficiency, and weatherization programs, defending and planning for 90% renewable energy by 2050. We all need to work together to push back on industries that would like to keep us locked into an outdated energy system and move forward into our clean, sustainable future.
How You Can Help:
- Tell us your story
What’s your experience with renewable energy, efficiency or weatherization? Have you saved money in your own household? Do you live near an energy project? What makes you support our renewable energy goals? Tell us your story and we may profile you on our website, help you transform your story into a letter to the editor, or invite you to testify in Montpelier!
- Get involved in shaping your community’s energy future
Joining your town energy committee can help you get involved with planning your town’s renewable energy future while also educating your friends and neighbors about the benefits of renewable energy and weatherization. Town energy committees are also the local leaders who draw in the resources necessary to create a green energy future in towns across the state. For more information or to find your energy committee, visit the VECAN website.
- Meet with your state representatives about bold climate action
We’re lucky here in Vermont to have a citizen legislature. Our legislators are easy to communicate with and are eager to connect with their constituents regularly. This means that it’s up to us ensure that our legislators in Montpelier are champions of bold climate policy. Even when we know our representatives and senators are on board, citizen lobbying can ensure that they are persistently working with their colleagues to support bolder and more comprehensive policies to address this most important issue. If you’re interested in attending or hosting a meeting with your local legislator, let us know and we will connect you with one of our organizers.
- Actively shape Vermont’s media narrative, highlighting the co-benefits of climate action that bolsters our local economies
Too often climate change is ignored, denied, or portrayed as too costly to warrant aggressive policies to mitigate and adapt. The jury isn’t out – building a clean energy economy helps our environment and is a boon to our economy. Working with our team of organizers and communications specialists, you and your neighbors can help drive the media narrative in a more hopeful and positive direction, and have fun while doing it. Writing a series of letters to the editor (LTEs) or opinion editorials (op-eds) can be the main activity of a simple and fun party with your neighbors and friends. Let us know if you want to organize a letter writing party and we will connect you with one of our organizers.
Think the comment boards on your favorite Vermont news site are too skewed towards negativity and misinformation? Join a growing team of Vermonters committed to showcasing the incredible opportunity taking the lead on addressing climate change affords our brave little state.
For information and tips on having a pro-climate media impact, check out our Media Toolkit.
- Recruit your neighbors
With so much competing for our attention – in our lives and in the news – it’s easy to miss out on important developments and ways folks can get involved in making life better right here at home. You can help by sharing information about important legislation on social media, or on your local Front Porch Forum. Word of mouth recruitment, especially in the social media age, is critical to building political support for common sense solutions to our most pressing problems. Check out our wind and solar FAQs, share them on social media, or reach out to our Clean Energy Associate Daniel Brown at email@example.com to learn how you can be a voice for clean energy solutions in your community.
Thousands of toxic or untested chemicals are used in products we use every day in our homes, schools, and workplaces. These toxins are building up in our bodies and are contributing to alarming trends in public health, including increased rates of birth defects, developmental disabilities, reproductive disorders, cancers, and more. VPIRG supports federal and state legislation that will get known toxins out of consumer products, and require health and safety testing before chemicals make it into products on our store shelves. The voices of everyday Vermonters concerned about the toxicity in our communities has been and will continue to be critical to strengthening our legislation and protecting our communities.
How You Can Help:
- Sign up as a Toxics Free Champ
Passing the Toxics Free Families Act was just a first step on the road to a safer Vermont for all! The hard work of ensuring the use of toxics is disclosed and, when necessary, banned, continues. Sign up to support continued development of strong regulations and accountability mechanisms and we’ll keep you in the loop and ensure you know about public hearings and critical moments in the State House when citizen action makes all the difference.
- Get involved with your local Toxics Action Center group
Our friends at the Toxics Action Center, or TAC, play a critical role in organizing communities to take grassroots action for safe drinking water, for clean air, for pesticide-free schools, and dozens of other goals.
Since 1987, TAC organizers have worked side by side with more than 750 communities across New England to clean up hazardous waste sites; reduce industrial pollution; curb pesticide use; ensure healthy land use; replace dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives; and oppose dangerous waste, energy, and industrial facilities. They work on issues where environmental pollution threatens our health.
Does your neighborhood have a pollution problem? Want to make your community more sustainable? Contact TAC at 802-223-4099 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big money special interests disproportionately influence elections, public debate, and the government’s decision-making process, often drowning out the voice, subverting the will, and harming the interest of the general public. VPIRG is working for a more participatory and inclusive democracy: in favor of government transparency and integrity, against big money politics, and for more fair and accessible elections. But government won’t reform itself; it’s up to each and every one of us to get involved in whatever way we can to ensure that our government is accountable to the people, not special interests.
How You Can Help:
- Support Ethics Reform
Vermont is one of only three states without an ethics commission and that’s a problem. While the vast majority of our elected officials serve honorably, Vermonters still deserve to have greater confidence that we can trust lawmakers and other officials to serve our state honestly and without the appearance of inappropriate influence.
The Senate has passed an ethics reform bill (S.8) that VPIRG supports conceptually, and wants to see strengthened. We need your help to let the Senate know that Vermonters support ethics reform and want S.8 to be as robust and powerful as possible. Add your name to our petition!
- Get involved locally
Local democracy in Vermont isn’t just a tradition, it’s one of the things that makes our state truly special. From our citizen legislature to town meeting day and open accessible Select Board meetings, the options for getting involved in your community are endless. You can start by attending your town’s Select Board or City Council meetings and talking to your local officials about the issues that matter most to you. You can also request a meeting with your Representative our Senator to start building a relationship that will help them know who you are and what you care about. And if you’re really serious about getting involved you could even run for office! It’s not that scary!
- Attend a hearing
On Thursday, February 23, at 5:30 pm in Montpelier Attorney General TJ Donovan convened the first of what is to be a number of statewide public hearings that will inform the work of The Joint Committee on Campaign Finance Education Compliance and Reform. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Contact our Govenrment Reform Associate Megan Noonan at email@example.com to let her know if you’re interested in attending these hearings, and she’ll update you on their time and location, as well as provide helpful talking points about the serious need to reform our broken campaign finance system.
Any conversation about government reform would be incomplete without mentioning the importance of voting. Whether it’s a local, statewide, or national election, everyone’s voice must be heard if we are to protect the health and well-being of Vermont’s people and natural environment. Every year we publish a legislative score card which can help you see where your state legislators stand on issues that matter to you. See the most recent score card by clicking here.