Memes for climate action: A conversation with @GoGreenSaveGreen

March 31, 2023

Research across disciplines shows that comedy is uniquely persuasive and attention-getting when it comes to serious issues like the climate crisis. Comedy content that is climate-related is proven to help people feel more optimistic about our future and ready to take action.

One medium that’s been proven to increase people’s willingness to engage with online climate action is memes. Although memes may appear to some as silly jokes, they really do boost climate engagement. 

We’ve taken this research to heart, composing some funny climate meme content (check out our favorite here). Many creators have developed a knack for climate meme content, including Go Green Save Green. We were lucky enough to chat with the mastermind behind this comedy account, Ariel Moldonado. Here is that interview, edited for length and clarity. 

Generation180: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

Ariel: I’m 27, I live in Los Angeles, and I’m Mexican-American. In my culture, although there’s a deep love of plants and a use of upcycling, growing up, I didn’t consider us to be eco-friendly. The environment wasn’t seriously on my radar until college. 

I initially pursued a B.A. in Ceramics—yes, I have a tattoo of me as Pig-Pen covered in clay dust—and that’s my first love: art and ceramics. After graduation, I started to learn more about the environment through NowThis videos and realized “oh, climate change is a huge problem.”

Generation180: Where did you get the idea for Go Green Save Green? Was it always a meme-focused account?

Ariel: At first, I applied a personal lens to the issue, wanting to know, “how can I be more eco-friendly? turned to Google and started to research the environmental impact of everything. Seriously, anything you could lay your eyes on, I asked that question. 

When I was a teenager, I often read Yahoo News and would share those articles and facts with my friends and family. Reading and sharing was in my nature, so once I went down this climate impact rabbit hole, I started injecting climate stuff into the conversations I was having. I soon realized that even with me prompting people to look it up, they weren’t, so I knew I had to do more. After not finding a social account with the content I wanted, I created it. 

At first, the page was about how going green could save you money, hence the name. Then, it evolved into humorous content like memes. 

I got to a point where I had all this research but I didn’t know how to communicate what I was learning. After seeing ZeroWasteMemes, the earliest climate meme-r, I knew I could communicate complex climate topics through memes. I wanted to break down a concept for people to understand—I didn’t want to just be a funny meme page. I wanted people to see the research, learn something, and find ways to take action, so my memes are usually paired with an article, the meme just sparks their interest. And this strategy worked!

Generation180: Tell us more about your content and where you get content ideas? 

Ariel: The page follows my own learning journey—so it’s nice that since I don’t have a science background, I’m making it accessible to people who also don’t.

I didn’t want to be an “influencer” and monetize the account. I tried selling eco-shoes and shampoo, but left that side of things quickly. I use it as a portfolio instead, not as a platform for sales. This format paid off—I got my current job with The Climate Initiative through this social account based upon my proven ability to engage and excite youth, and now I feel confident owning the page. 

Generation180: What’s your favorite piece of content, to-date (aside from our Valentine’s Day meme collaboration 😉)

Ariel: Yes, I have this piece saved to my favorites: my biodegradable vs. compostable meme. Nobody was talking about these differences and it really blew up. People thought it was funny and I educated them on a huge part in waste management. I am proud that I gave people more agency to think about their waste and that they learned something.

Generation180: Do you have any advice for those interested in content creation, specifically climate-oriented?

Ariel: If you’re interested in content creation today, you’ll be facing an uphill battle. In three years, I’ve gained 2k followers – it’s hard to break through the noise and the ever-changing algorithms. If you want to get into climate advocacy on social media platforms, do it because you want to, do it on your terms, and don’t go looking to monetize right away. It will add a lot of pressure to you and the content you make to “perform.” And it can be frustrating when you care about the topic of the post and you do not know why it is not performing as well as you wanted it to especially when you think you have a post that will perform really well. Tying your financial wellbeing to the strength of your social media presence is not something I would recommend today. 

Generation180: Who are some of your favorite accounts to follow – who should we have tabs on?

Ariel: In the early stages of this account, I met up with climate creators Isaias Hernandez (@queerbrownvegan) and Kristy Drutman (@browngirl_green) to discuss climate content. They are great peers, collaborators, and content creators.  

Generation180: What gives you hope about our clean energy future?

Ariel: Just the sheer number of people working on climate. When you see how many people are working towards solutions and changing their jobs to a green industry, and when you see how much cheaper it is to use clean energy – even in red states like Texas, it’s inspiring. That gives me hope that despite all the depressing headlines, states and individuals are stepping up. Climate change won’t ever not be an important issue again.

When you see how many people are working towards solutions and changing their jobs to a green industry, and when you see how much cheaper it is to use clean energy – even in red states like Texas, it’s inspiring.

Want more? Follow @GoGreenSaveGreen and @generation.180 on Instagram for a dose of climate humor and clean energy inspiration.


Portland students push for climate justice and carbon neutrality

March 29, 2023

In March of 2022, after six years of student protests and community campaigning, Portland Public Schools (PPS) in Oregon passed a sweeping climate policy, PPS Climate Crisis Response, Climate Justice, and Sustainable Practices Policy, that directs the district’s climate action for the next three decades. Twenty-one school districts across the nation have passed commitments to become carbon neutral, but none are as comprehensive or progressive as Portland’s. 

Students Lead The Charge Against Climate Change

The district’s decarbonization goals are one of the most ambitious in the country, matching the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change goals. In addition, the two other objectives add a climate justice component and ensure that the students and community reap the benefits of the district’s commitment. 

Jane Comeault, a community advocate and PPS parent, who advocated for the district to tackle climate change, credits the breadth of the policy to the community’s involvement in its creation. 

The district first passed a climate resolution, Resolution 5272, in 2016 after students conducted climate strikes and protests demanding the district do more to ensure a healthy future for their generation.  The resolution directed the district to develop an implementation plan for climate change and justice literacy. 

After the resolution was passed, a group of community members, including parents and a former school board member, solicited feedback from the community, district staff, and students on the next steps to take. They transformed that feedback into a policy that was then taken to the school board for review. The policy was reworked over 30 times, but the school board and Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero listened intently to the voices of their students and community and passed the legislation on March 1, 2022, six years after the initial resolution and three years after the first draft of the policy. The policy introduced carbon neutrality and student and staff wellness goals. 

Carbon Neutrality: Mapping the Road to a Sustainable Future

PPS began mobilizing their climate work as the policy passed and now, just one year later, PPS is implementing the pieces of the policy. The first step was to hire Kat Davis, Advisor for Climate Justice, to direct the work. Kat hit the ground running and has built the necessary structures to lead and evaluate PPS’ approach. By developing an evaluation plan for the district’s greenhouse gas impact and a decarbonization roadmap to organize the series of complex steps in school modernization, new building construction, and building maintenance, Kat is ensuring the district’s approach is methodical and efficient. 

Kat also launched the Climate Crisis Response Committee to operate as oversight for and to provide a timeline and cadence for the district’s work. Consistent with the spirit of the policy, the committee includes members from various levels of experience and backgrounds, including community members, parents, and students. 

Additionally, the policy has helped the district push their building design standards to the next level and incorporate technologies that will help increase their efficiency while reducing their emissions. 

Most importantly, the district has followed through on their commitment to encourage climate literacy in their students. Kat is in the process of relaunching the Climate Justice Youth Advisory to provide leadership skills for students who are passionate about climate change and create projects to take back to their schools. The youth advisory serves to empower students and provide hope that they can face climate change through informed action.

Portland Public Schools is proud of their climate leadership and hopes to set an example for other school districts. Kat Davis is one of the many inspiring school leaders who just recently spoke at Generation180’s Clean Energy Schools Symposium in Washington, DC from March 26-28, 2023. This was the first-ever national convening of Generation180’s School Leadership in Clean Energy Network, which includes school decision makers who are actively inspiring and supporting other schools across the country to make the switch to clean energy.


Charging Up with ChargerHelp!

March 22, 2023

In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to celebrate women in the clean energy industry who are helping accelerate EV adoption. We sat down with Samantha Ortega, Government Relations Manager at ChargerHelp!, an EV charging reliability management company, to discuss the company’s origin story, female entrepreneurship, and their workforce development support.

Here is that interview, edited for length and clarity.

Shakaya, Gen180: Hi Samantha, thank you for joining me today. My name is Shakaya and I work with Generation180, and I’m here to learn a little bit more about ChargerHelp. So let’s kick it off. At Gen180, we are really big fans of your organization, but there might be some of us who are unfamiliar with the organization, so I’m wondering if you can tell me a little bit more about ChargerHelp and your role directly. 

Samantha, ChargerHelp: Thank you, Shakaya. And it is a pleasure to be here with you today. ChargerHelp is a technology company that enables technicians to diagnose and repair and maintain electric vehicle charging stations. We’re supporting the repair and resolution of the hardware and software for Level 2 and DC fast chargers. We’re helping increase the reliability of the charging stations so that the EV driver has confidence in the charging infrastructure and can have a seamless charging experience—and also we’re providing support in the workforce development of maintenance technicians in low income communities. I am able to provide different perspectives and best practices in keeping the infrastructure operable and ensure that when local, state, and federal government create different policies and programs, that they put equity in the forefront of those efforts. 

Gen180: Wonderful, wonderful. Especially around infrastructure—as individuals make that transition to EVs, we want them to be more comfortable in the community as they learn how to charge their electric vehicles. So, I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about the origin story of ChargerHelp. Right. So why did it start? What’s your mission?

Samantha: So we’ve definitely come a long way since the company was founded. ChargerHelp started in early 2020, so right before the pandemic. Kameale Terry and Evette Ellis are the co-founders of ChargerHelp, and they set out on a mission to create a company with strong core values, based on equity and inclusion. Kameale, our CEO, worked for a software company where she led multiple EV deployment projects, which gave her insight into the EV industry and partnered with Evette, our co-­founder and Chief Workforce Officer, who has 20 years of workforce development recruitment, training, and placement experience through the Department of Labor’s Job Corps system. They both set out on this venture to create an opportunity for local individuals to participate in the clean tech industry. The company has grown now, where we have manufacturers, established EV charging companies, utilities, fleet operators, and even municipalities as customers. 

Kameale and Evette, co-founders

Evette Ellis & Kameale Terry, ChargerHelp Co-founders

Gen180: Oh wonderful! For individuals outside of organizations that work on clean energy, what’s the best thing you would want someone to know about ChargerHelp? 

Samantha: Well, Shakaya, there’s so many things that I could mention, but to give you some insight, I want to highlight our field service technicians. We have the best technicians working for ChargerHelp all throughout the US. They work through various weather conditions and environments. They’re always communicating with each other and giving each other insights  and feedback on what they’re working on. So the support that they have for one another is amazing to hear and see as they may be working on the same issue across the country. When they have an opportunity to snap a photo of their working location for the day and share it with the team, it becomes worthwhile with all the work that we’re doing externally, and so our technicians are helping improve the reliability of the charging stations and supporting the industry and creating those sustainable standards. 

Gen180: Great. What’s something we might expect from ChargerHelp within the next year, or what are some fun plans you have in the works? 

Samantha: We’re very thrilled that we’re seeing major changes on the federal level with the  passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and other bills that will support the manufacturing of parts here in the US. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the recently-released final rule for the NEVI Formula Program. We’re excited to see that minimum standards were developed to ensure the long ­term reliability of charging stations along federal highways. We will continue to work with states and utilities to ensure that best practices are adopted. Our technicians are doing an amazing job in capturing data to help solve those issues. 

We’ll also continue to support in the workforce development and training for local folks, and we recently announced the partnership with SAE International’s Sustainable Mobility Solutions to support the training and credentialing for those existing skill sets. 

EV technicians on the job

ChargerHelp! technicians taking part in an EV workforce training lesson 

Gen180: Wonderful, fun things. I want to touch on that vocational training component a little bit more and wondering if you can share one of your favorite success stories around teaching individuals and technicians?

Samantha: Partnerships are very important at ChargerHelp, and what we see as a continued success to private charging companies is connecting with local workforce development organizations to establish accessibility to training and equitable pathway for disadvantaged  communities to participate in the clean tech industry. 

“What we see as a continued success to private charging companies is connecting with local workforce development organizations to establish accessibility to training and equitable pathway for disadvantaged  communities to participate in the clean tech industry.”

So just last year, in partnership with LACI, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and Tritium Charging, we hosted the first all-women EV charging maintenance technician cohort in Los Angeles. It’s a mouthful, but a very amazing workforce development training that we had. Women were able to learn about an industry that is predominantly male, and they learned about a completely new industry, how to repair the charging stations. They were able to tour the Tritium facility and also learn about other skill sets that they could reapply in other parts of the industry, such as administrative support and project management. 

Gen180: Great. What would you say are your hopes about our clean energy future, either personally or professionally?

Samantha: I would say that the commitment that states are making to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The transportation sector is one of the largest CO2 emitters, but we have seen many  states issue executive orders to address climate change and to allocate resources, and with the electric vehicle supporting infrastructure, the legislators are focusing more on equitable access to reliable chargers and not just the deployment of the chargers, so knowing that we have states moving towards these goals and that we can breathe cleaner air every day makes it all worth it. 

Gen180: I agree. Okay, so thank you so much, Samantha, for coming to hang out with me. I have one last question for you, and it’s… do you drive an electric car? 

Samantha: Shakaya, I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t currently, but definitely working in the clean tech industry and being more conscious about the impact that I make has shifted the decision. So whenever I travel or take a vacation, I definitely rent and test drive different models of electric vehicles, and it is honestly a great experience. 

“Whenever I travel or take a vacation, I definitely rent and test drive different models of electric vehicles, and it is honestly a great experience.”

Gen180: Wonderful. Well, as you shop around and test drive, Generation180 does have a Going Electric pledge, so if you feel excited, I encourage you to sign it, and it’s just you pledging to go electric next month, next year, or five years.

Samantha: Awesome, will do! Thank you.

Gen180: Thank you!



Virginia’s transition to electric vehicles is well under way

March 8, 2023

We talk a lot about electric vehicles at Generation180. While the average daily commute is less than fifty miles, transportation remains the number one source of carbon emissions in the country. To make a dent in this problem, we need to switch to electric vehicles. Thankfully, the federal government and all 50 states are working to provide a seamless and predictable charging experience—ensuring that the well-traveled road to electric vehicles remains quintessentially American.

In this op-ed, I share how the new National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program will help Americans charge up no matter where their summer road trip takes them.  We don’t have to wait any longer to make our next cars, trucks, or SUVs electric. 

—Stuart Gardner, Electrify Your Ride Program Director

Earlier this month, the Biden-Harris administration provided a progress report on America’s network of publicly available electric vehicle (EV) fast chargers. Unlike the nearly 150,000 gas stations across the country, electric vehicle chargers are less ubiquitous, thus triggering our country’s collective “range anxiety” as we transition to a future where cars are plugged in, not gassed up. As the country gears up to make charging spots as familiar as gas stations are today, states — such as Virginia — will play pivotal roles in building our electric future.

At the end of 2021, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invested $5 billion toward the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program, and $2.5 billion for a discretionary Charging and Fueling Infrastructure grant program available to all 50 states. Virginia is expected to receive approximately $106 million under the NEVI program and is on track to electrify 1,080 miles of roadways by 2024.

Situated at an important national transportation hub, Virginia is home to more than a half dozen major freeways. Under NEVI, Virginia has designated eight “Alternative Fuel Corridors” or AFCs, throughout the commonwealth to foster a convenient and reliable public charging network, which includes more than 985 miles of interstate.

Virginia is also the perfect entryway for the budding technology of electric vehicles and the national charging infrastructure connecting north to south and east to west. In Virginia, there are currently more than 1,200 public charging stations available to the 40,000 registered electric vehicles. While EV registrations in the U.S. have doubled over the past year to about 5% of all new cars, they still only make up 0.5% of all registrations in Virginia.

All of that is changing. Today, nearly every car manufacturer in the U.S. offers an EV model. Convenient and seamless charging for longer drives is essential to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles. Historic barriers to owning an EV, such as battery range and price, are becoming less of an issue as technology advances. While a recent survey by Consumer Reports, finds “charging logistics” to be the top barrier for Americans transitioning to electric, it won’t be for long.

Why does all this matter?

Because a shift away from gas-powered vehicles is critical to addressing the No. 1 source of carbon emissions in Virginia, transportation. Reducing climate-harming emissions isn’t the only reason to drive electric: Electric vehicles also save Americans money at the pump and cost less over time because they have fewer moving parts to maintain.

A recent survey found that 76% of Virginians support having a policy requiring auto manufacturers to provide a minimum number of new electric vehicles for sale in Virginia. Almost three-quarters (73%) of Virginians from that same survey also responded that reducing dependence on fossil fuels and transitioning to clean energy is important. Besides those very valid reasons to switch to EVs, for those Virginians with a passion for driving, nothing can compare to the near instant acceleration of an electric vehicle.

For electric vehicles to truly proliferate, charging infrastructure must serve the diverse American population, beyond those able to charge at home (about 80% of charging today). Whether you’re charging at home, at work, the grocery store or movie theater, leaving your car to recharge while you go about your day will soon become as routine as locking your car.

Our network of public chargers is growing. Virginians shouldn’t let charging anxiety keep them from taking steps to plug into the clean energy future, today.

This piece was originally published on February 25th in The Virginian-Pilot. Read the op-ed here.