Writing a Letter to the Editor

Writing Letters to the Editor

Submitting LTE’s (letters to the editor) in your local newspaper is a great way to encourage your city, county, or state to reduce single-use plastics. A letter is an easy, effective way to reach members of your community and your elected officials. We know that everyone – from city council members to community leaders to members of Congress – closely monitor local newspapers. We also know that letters can drive more news coverage, which educates more people about your issue. If you are frustrated that your elected officials aren’t listening to you, you can submit a Letter to the Editor sharing your frustration (and stating what you would like them to do). Is a significant day such as World Oceans Day, International Coastal Cleanup Day, Earth Day, World Water Day, or World Sea Turtle Day coming up? Has a bill been filed or is there an upcoming vote? This may be a good time to submit the LTE. State the bill that you would like passed. Also look for recent articles about plastic pollution or an animal being affected by plastic. Submit your LTE to that media outlet and mention the story in your LTE.

There’s an example of an LTE here called “Stripping Home Rule”.

There’s a great example of an Op-Ed about a specific preemption repeal bill here. She names her elected officials, which is a good way to get their attention.

Tips for Writing your Letter:

  1. SHARE A PERSONAL STORY. Are you a business owner or fisherman who depends on healthy oceans? Have you lived in the community for years? Why are you concerned about plastic pollution? You have an important and interesting story to tell. Write a letter in your own words expressing why you feel the way you do.
  2. STAY FOCUSED. Keep your letter short and limit your arguments to one or two main points. There is often a word limit, often no more than 150-200 words.
  3. MAKE A CALL TO ACTION. What is your goal for writing the letter? Are you trying to influence elected officials? Are you disappointed that your elected official isn’t cosponsoring/supporting a bill? Perhaps you’d like to ask your neighbors to join you and advocate for a single-use plastics policy. Ask them to reach out to their city council members. Do you want your state representative to support a specific bill? Include that in your letter.

Tips for Submitting your Letter:

  1. SUBMIT your letter by email or online form provided by your local newspaper (some examples are below). Include your name, address, and any relevant titles. Paste your letter in the body of your email (do not send your letter as an attachment). Only submit to one newspaper.
  2. CALL or email the editorial department (phone number is usually listed on the newspaper’s web page) 1-2 days after you submit the letter to politely ask if the piece was received and if they plan to publish it. If they do not plan to publish, then you can submit the letter to a different local newspaper.
  3. After your letter is published, SHARE it via your own networks and social media with the hashtags #RiseAbovePlastics and #BreakFreeFromPlastic. Tag elected officials in the post. Send it by email or mail to your elected officials.
Consider submitting an Op-Ed or LTE to your local news media.

Submit your LTE to your local newspaper

Here are some examples of submission forms. Click on the button to see the submission instructions/form. If your local newspaper isn’t listed below, do a Google search with your local newspaper’s name and “Submit Letter to the Editor.”

Some media sources allow you to write a longer piece. Always check the instructions and requirements before writing and submitting your Letter to the Editor.

Points to support your personal experience and perspective: pick and choose what is most appropriate for you and your city/state.

Plastic Pollution

  • Plastics are one of the greatest threats facing our oceans today.
  • An estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic enter the ocean every year. This is roughly equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the oceans every minute.
  • Plastics are impacting everything from fish and sea turtles to marine mammals and seabirds.
  • Plastic pollution is everywhere. Plastic has been found floating on the surface of the sea, washing up on the world’s most remote coastlines, and sitting at the deepest point of the ocean floor.
  • Plastic lasts for years and years, often breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces that act as magnets for harmful pollutants.
  • As plastic production increases, so will the amount of plastic entering the ocean. Projections show a threefold increase of the amount of plastic in the ocean between 2015 and 2025
  • Plastic production emits harmful greenhouse gases, so it is also a climate issue.
  • Plastic pollution is an environmental justice issue because plastic pollution disproportionately affects lower income communities.
  • Plastic pollution is bad for tourism.
  • Plastic pollution clogs our storm drains.
  • Plastic bags and plastic film cause a problem in recycling facilities.

Single-use Plastics

  • Single-use plastics are flawed by design: they use a material made to last forever but are designed to be thrown away – sometimes after being used for only a few moments – before polluting the Earth for years to come.
  • Some of the most common items found at beach cleanups around the world are food wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic grocery bags, plastic straws/stirrers and plastic takeout containers — all single-use plastic items.
  • Almost 40 percent of the millions of tons of plastic produced annually is for single-use plastics.
  • Single use plastic/foam is bad for human health.

Recycling is not Enough

  • Recycling alone is not enough to solve the plastics crisis.
  • Only 9% of all plastic waste ever created has been recycled to date; meanwhile plastic production is expected to exponentially skyrocket in the next 20 years if left unchecked.
  • Recycling is like trying to mop water from an overflowing bathtub while the faucet is still running. We need to turn off the faucet and reduce the production of single-use plastic.

Local Call to Action?

  • To stop plastic from entering our oceans, we must reduce the amount of single-use plastic being produced and used.
  • Local governments play a critical role in alleviating the plastic pollution problem by regulating the use of single-use plastics.
  • CITY/COUNTY should reduce the amount of single-use plastic by passing an ordinance. This is an important step to protecting the ocean and our community from plastic pollution.

State/Federal Call to Action?

  • You may want to call on the state legislature and Governor DeSantis to remove preemptions. You may want to urge your state representative to cosponsor a preemption repeal bill or sponsor/file a statewide bill.
  • You may choose to ask your members of Congress (name your Rep/Senators) to cosponsor the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.
Image credit: Good Morning Tampa Bay and Kids Saving Oceans

Media Coverage is Important!

Media coverage on your issue is important. Hosting a cleanup? Make sure the reporter not only covers the trash collected, but also covers what we can do to stop plastic pollution at the source. Give the readers/listeners a call to action for policy change. Be specific. Put pressure on your elected officials.

Did a local ordinance or state law recently pass (or not pass)? Is a vote coming up? Contact a reporter. Get media coverage.