Although he doesn’t have his own TikTok account, the American Conservation Coalition’s Benji Backer is quintessential Gen Z. He’s young, he’s passionate, and he works tirelessly to make positive change for our planet.

Benji and his team are leading a grassroots effort on eco-conscious education across college campuses and the halls of government. Host Amy Koonin Taylor sits down with Backer to talk about climate change, building the bipartisan bridge, and his love for Aaron Rodgers.

On why the American Conservation Coalition got started:

BENJI BACKER: “When we started the organization, the most recent polling had shown that 36 percent of Republicans believed in climate change, but that when they were provided a market-based solution, that support jumped to 70 percent within conservatives believing in climate change. So it almost doubled. And so the problem with the partisanship of climate change didn’t have to do with the issue of climate change. It had to do with the solutions that were being presented.

We know that this is an issue that has serious consequences today. It’s going to have even more serious consequences in the future, and we don’t have time for partisanship. And so when we started the organization, we were covering a broad set of issues, and climate change was one of them, but not really a top priority. But over the past few years, climate change has become our number one priority, because we see a huge opportunity for cross-partisan climate reforms.”

On the impact of grassroots activism:

BENJI BACKER: “What really makes us succeed is our grassroots members, which we have thousands of across the country over those few hundred chapters. They are the ones who are constantly contacting their elected officials that are constantly being better consumers in their day to day lives and pushing companies to do more. They are being political advocates, they are educating their friends, they are participating in our calls to action. We’re building communities across the country of individuals who are willing to take a leap and be the brightest, most bold advocates for a cleaner future that is possible.

The only way that we’re going to solve climate change is by grassroots activists raising their voice. We’re not going to solve it by the news media reporting on it. We’re not going to solve it by a couple of members of congress being loud voices. We’re not going to solve it by Hollywood talking about it. Those are all helpful, but what’s most helpful is the grassroots activists that have changed the tide on so many different issues who are doing it now on climate change, and they’re doing it on behalf of our organization.”

On supporting businesses that are offsetting their carbon impact:

BENJI BACKER: “I try to support the airline companies that are doing the most to offset their impact and find ways to look towards the future on how they can innovate their way out of this issue. And for me, that’s supporting a company like Delta and offsetting my carbon footprint when I fly. Even though it’s not perfect, it does take a huge step in the right direction to offset your carbon footprint when you fly and a lot of times it can be between five and 10 dollars for just one round trip. Those are just some easily applicable ways, and you can do that in so many aspects of your life.”

On his most memorable halloween costume:

BENJI BACKER: “My girlfriend was really giving me a hard time about this. I dressed up as a plant and put the words nuclear and hazard on my chest and I was trying to be a nuclear plant. And that is about as embarrassing as it gets, but I did do that.”

Listen to more episodes of the Town Haul Podcast.

Amy Koonin Taylor is Marketing Content and Media Manager at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.