24-year-old Tyler Gillette of Ohio has cared about environmental issues since he was young. And growing up, he says that sometimes made him feel like an outcast among his conservative peers.
“Everyone would call me a liberal or a tree hugger or a hippie,” he says. “I thought I was the only one out there that had conservative values that cared about the environment.”
But Gillette was not deterred. In college, he studied environmental science, and he began advocating for free-market solutions to climate change – for example, by writing an op-ed for a student publication.
That op-ed caught the attention of national climate organizers. Soon the leaders of republicEn, a group that advocates for market-driven climate solutions, invited Gillette to join their group.
And the Citizens Climate Lobby asked him to come to a lobbying event in Washington, D.C. Gillette says meeting with legislators for the first time was empowering.
“I felt like I was participating in democracy, you know. I was playing an actual role,” he says.
Through these experiences, Gillette says he’s found other like-minded conservatives.
“Now I know that I’m not the only one that sees things the way that I do,” he says.
So he encourages others to speak up, too.
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.