How to be an (Environmental) Activist from Abroad

By Yasmin Mang

Whether our stay in Germany is for a few months or over fifteen years, we all still keep some sort of relationship with our home country.  That relationship covers not only personal friendships and family ties, but can also cover home country politics.  But when you are living abroad, it seems difficult to actually be involved in the home political process.

Most countries, however, do have methods for citizens located abroad to stay involved in politics in some way.  Here are a few tips based on my experience, just in time for Earth Day.

  • Vote

The easiest and most basic means of participation in your home country’s political process – vote!   The UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and many other countries allow remote voting.  A quick google search will tell you how to register for paper or (in some cases) electronic voting, allowing you to participate.   

  • Contact your Elected Official

Your personal elected official is usually based on your last place of residence – whether or not you actually voted for them!  And those elected officials do like to hear from registered voters – they often keep track of how many calls/letters/postcards they get on an issue and what the callers stated for the issue (even just, please vote “yea” or “nay”).

With regards to the environment, your home country is likely to be passing various environmental regulations throughout the year.  It isn’t too difficult to do a google search, educate yourself, and contact your elected official.   

For my fellow Americans, I would note that, especially since the last US election, there are a number of websites dedicated to helping people contact their elected officials and suggesting what to say when doing so.

  • Participate in Local or Global Events

Germany is a great place for environmental activism – the Green Party, renewable energy, the recycling…the list goes on.  And recently, activist events are being organized on a global level (such as the upcoming March for Science on Earth Day) which allow us to participate locally.  Again, Google is your friend – regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, there’s bound to be something for you.

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  • Donate

Lastly, if there is a cause – environmental or otherwise – that you believe in, consider making a monetary donation.  Even €5 can help, since it allows the organization to increase its number of individual donors – and multiple €5 donations can add up as well!

Some Final Words

Taking action can be fun as well.  Involve friends and family in activities or meet some new folks in town!  Invite friends over to call congress or do a post card writing party. Make a log of your action and compete with friends near by or back home. Challenge your friends to a “sign off” for the next march and see who comes up with the most fun/creative / poignant signs!  Lastly, support each other.  If saving the oceans is your thing but refugees protection is your friend’s, it is important that all of these issues have people dedicated to them so help each other stay on task!

“In today’s changing world, it is more important than ever to make your voice heard.  Please consider doing so using some of the methods listed above!”

– Yasmin Mang

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