Not everyone has tried to contact their elected representatives before and that’s OK! We’ve made up this simple guide that you can read and follow, using one of the Surfrider Foundation MA’s 2019 priority campaigns to support HD.134 An Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution as an example. Here, you’ll be asking your MA state representative to co-sponsor this legislation.

Have a look and give it a shot. Adapt this to your needs. You’ll be a pro in no time.

Here are a few tips for when you call or email

If you don’t know who your state representative is, you can look them up using your street address. If you call, you will probably speak with an aide or get voicemail. Don’t be afraid to keep calling and writing until you get a response that satisfies you!

  1. Remember to give your name and let them know you are a constituent. If emailing, it also helps to include your mailing address.
  2. Clearly state your request. For example, if speaking to an aide:
    “Please ask Representative ______ to co-sponsor An Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution, which is Docket Number HD.134.” 
  3. Feel free to share a few reasons why you support the bill. For example:
    • “I am deeply concerned about the impacts of plastic pollution on wildlife and the environment.”
    • “I want to promote a sustainable culture of reuse in Massachusetts.”
    • “My town already passed a bag law and we’re starting to see meaningful positive impacts with little downside.”
    • “Please help us keep our community clean by cutting down on this long-lasting form of pollution.”
    • “I’m worried about marine microplastics disrupting ecosystems and contaminating our food supply.”
    • “Reusable items like bags save money and resources in the long run and will help support our communities.”
    • “I’m tired of supporting the fossil fuel industry through billions of plastic bags that are only used for a few minutes and then thrown away.”
    • …or anything else that works for you!
  4. If it is not clear whether your Representative is willing to co-sponsor the bill, please be sure to ask that they follow up with you to share their position:
    “I look forward to knowing whether Representative ________ will help champion this important legislation or not. When could you get back to me with a clear indication of the Representative’s willingness to co-sponsor HD.134?”
  5. No matter how it goes, remember to thank the person you are talking to!
  6. If you are so inclined, please fill out this quick form to let us know how things went!
Here is a sample email that you could use to contact your State Representative!

Dear Representative [LAST NAME]:

My name is [YOUR NAME] and I live at [YOUR STREET ADDRESS] in your district.

As a constituent of yours, I’m writing to respectfully ask you to co-sponsor An Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution (Docket Number HD.134) before the co-sponsor deadline on February 1, 2019. This bill is of paramount interest to me because it directly impacts the natural resources, beaches, ocean, and waterways of Massachusetts.

I am curious to hear your position on this issue and look forward to a reply with your opinions and your current stance on this important piece of legislation, as well as your willingness to co-sponsor it.

Single-use plastic checkout bags are one of the most unnecessary and damaging forms of plastic pollution. If it weren’t for the cities and towns that have already passed local bag laws, Massachusetts residents would discard an estimated 2 billion plastic checkout bags each year, which amounts to 250 plastic bags for every foot of Massachusetts coastline.

Most of these bags are used for just a brief period of time and discarded, ending up in landfills and the environment where they can remain for hundreds of years. Plastic bags pollute the ocean, harm wildlife, litter our neighborhoods and beaches, risk contaminating the food supply, and directly harm key industries such as tourism, recreation, and recycling.

An Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution is an effective, commonsense solution to this problem, because a more sustainable alternative – the reusable bag – is readily available and already widely in use. This bill addresses an environmental crisis, as well as answering the calls of the business community for a consistent retail environment across the Commonwealth.

Thank you for carefully considering support for An Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution, which with passage would help keep billions of single-use plastic checkout bags out of landfills, beaches, and our ocean. I look forward to hearing back from you on this important issue before the February 1, 2019 deadline to co-sponsor bills this session.

Sincerely,

[YOUR FULL NAME]

[YOUR FULL MAILING ADDRESS] 

[YOUR EMAIL]

[YOUR PHONE #]