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Global Population and Environment Program:
What You Can Do about population & the environment

Join the Sierra Club. We’ve had a population program for over 40 years, and helping to leverage our 2.1 million members and supporters can be a powerful force for change. Already a member? Start a population committee in your local chapter or group! Get in touch with for more information about doing so.

Sign up to get information about population issues. Through our monthly “PopNews” newsletter, we will send you upcoming events, opportunities to take action, and applications for activist trainings.

Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, contribute to a blog, write an op-ed piece or article for a newsletter about population issues such as comprehensive sexual education, financial support for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its reproductive health initiatives, or funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Have you checked out our blog on the Sierra Club’s The Planet? We accept guest bloggers to publish as well!

Lobby your decision makers at the local, state, and national levels about population issues and the cost-effective solutions of providing education and family planning services.  Every dollar spent on family planning saves $4 in other health services.  Vote for candidates who support these issues. Refer to our partner’s voter guide for more information about your candidate’s position on family planning and reproductive health issues.

Host an event in your community or on your campus that highlights the intersections between population, reproductive health, and the environment. Check out our Activist Resources page for films you can screen, or get in touch with us for sample powerpoint presentations and materials to distribute! Contact for more information.

Talk about population issues with family and friends, emphasizing the basic right of all women to have access to voluntary family planning and reproductive health resources.

Utilize social media to interact with the population program and our partners. You can find our posts on the Sierra Club’s Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @SCPopEnviro.

Support comprehensive sexuality education in your schools.  Almost half the pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.  The U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world.  The impact of one American child on the environment is far greater than for most children in the world.

Support international programs (such as USAID, UNFPA, and the International Planned Parenthood Federation) that include opportunity for economic growth, education, and family planning for women, girls, and men.  Numerous studies have shown that education, especially for women and girls, is linked with delayed pregnancy and smaller family size.  This is not only healthy for the women and children but for the environment as well.

Apply to be a Fellow with the Global Population and Environment Program. We train 20 youth fellows a year, each of whom receives funding to host events, activities, and actions related to population and the environment.

Develop an elevator speech.  This is something you can say in about 30 seconds to get your message across.  A sample would be:  “Providing family planning helps women voluntarily choose the number and spacing of their children.  This leads to smaller families, and fewer demands for resources.  This all puts less stress on the environment.”

Conserve energy to reduce your carbon footprint.  The U.S. has approximately 5% of the world’s population but uses 25% of the world’s resources.  Consider greening your home or replacing appliances that have a high Energy Star rating.  Walk, carpool, or use public transportation.  Check your tire pressure for maximum gas mileage.  Switch to LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs.  Hang clothes outside to dry.  Make sure your home is well insulated.  Turn off lights when you leave a room.  Keep thermostat low in the winter and high in the summer.  Lobby for solar, wind, and other sustainable energy sources.

Conserve water. In the developing world, women spend more than a quarter of their day simply gathering water. You can help conserve this finite resource by: taking shorter showers; turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, installing low-flow toilets and showerheads, reducing the size of your lawn and not watering it, and running the dishwasher only when full.

Other: Grow your own vegetables or buy local produce. Carpool.  Take your own bags to the store.  Shop at thrift stores and vintage shops when possible. Compost all vegetable matter and use composted material in your garden.  Eat lower on the food chain.  Recycle. Carry beverages in reusable water bottles and coffee cups. Plant trees. Eat “meat-free” one day each week. 


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