Being earth conscious certainly feels like the cause du jour, but a recent study found that only nine percent of millennials say they've made an effort to help the environment. Could it be that green causes need better branding?

Quentin James, the National Director for the Sierra Club's Sierra Student Coalition declares, "Being environmentally conscious is sexy right now, but we should be expanding our base and recruiting more [young] people into our ranks."

At 24, James has his finger on the pulse of youth sentiment toward the green movement and is creating a new profile of what an environmental activist looks like. At the Sierra Club, the Howard alum trains youth to run impactful grassroots campaigns and develops the movement's future leaders.

James' first taste of organizing occurred when he was just 15 years old. He stumbled upon an infuriating quote from a tobacco exec: "We don't smoke ... we just sell it. We reserve that right for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid." James joined a local group of teens to create Rage Against the Haze, an anti-cigarette campaign that decreased statewide teen smoking rates by 17% in two years.

While that experience put green activism on his radar, the real tipping point was an internship focused on researching Detroit's history as a fresh food desert. Through this project he was introduced to environmental justice and non-profits like the Sierra Club and Green For All which work to solve complex issues in urban areas.

President Obama's decision to delay the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline last year is a memory James beams about. The Sierra Student Coalition played a significant role in organizing the grassroots effort that pressured the Obama administration to conduct a thorough assessment of the pipeline that would have stretched from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

"People of color have had to bear the brunt of the impact from extracting and transporting oil; from struggling with asthma due to oil refineries being built close to their homes to the devastating BP oil disaster, so seeing the President stand up to the oil industry as a result of our work was amazing."

This small victory reminded James of an important lesson he learned from an old mentor. "The difference between politics and civil rights is politics is about winning fights and civil rights is about doing what's right," he recalls.

For the short term, James' focus is to push universities to shift their endowment dollars from the coal industry into renewable energy companies. The South Carolina native lives by the mantra "to whom much is given, much is required" and for the longer term, he'll be making sure his generation reciprocates the gift in a major way.

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Discovering D.C.: 10 Things To Do, See And Eat This Fall (PHOTOS)
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  • A BAR

    Georgetown just got a few degrees hotter; and for once, global warming isn’t to blame. The new A BAR at Avenue Suites is the epitome of sleek sophistication. Go for the luxe comfort—the couch-surrounded terrace fire pit alone is worth dropping in for—and stay for the sexy drinks, like the Midnight in Paris, which twinkles with a sparkling brut, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lime juice, and chili grenadine syrup. The small plates also please, with chilled corn and crab chowder and unexpected flatbread combinations in the mix. 2500 Pennsylvania Ave., <a href=""></a>

  • Bandolero

    As you walk into the <a href="">Day of the Dead themed eatery known as Bandolero</a>, you know right away that it’s not your typical Mexican resto. The latest addition to the Georgetown scene serves contemporary Mexican food and offers an extensive stock of tequilas and mescal. Classic favorites like Mahi Mahi tacos, empanadas and taquitos pack an unexpected punch of flavor and concoctions like the prickly pear frozen margarita are sure to hit the spot. Dishes err on the small side, so be sure to order a few selections to fill you up. 3241 M St. NW, 202.625.4488

  • Columbia Firehouse

    A firehouse converted into a brunch and dinner hit, this <a href=" washington-dc">Alexandria spot</a> serves American comfort foods with a Southern tinge in a bright atrium setting. Generous portions all around, from the spicy tall glass of Bloody Mary that you'll guzzle in 25 seconds, to the goat cheese-sundried tomato omelette, and three-tiered portobello club. Other signature menu items include the caldron-sized pot of mussels, Angus burger with cheddar, bacon, and Firehouse sauce (ooh!), and the waffles and fried chicken, with gravy and guilt-assuaging kale. Festooned with residual firehouse accoutrements, such as dark wood, exposed brick, poles, and (gasp!) a fireplace, this spot knows how to welcome you. The genial service and complimentary fluffy cornbread helps too. 109 South St Asaph St., 703.683.1776, <a href=""></a>

  • Fiola

    Considered to be a top-10 contender for best DC restaurant and we know why. Modern upscale trattoria features showstoppers like wild hare ragu and prosciutto wrapped veal chop. Interiors are cool, bright, and contemporary- just like the crowd. Though <a href="">Fiola</a> is certainly not on the cheap side, they don't skimp on ingredients, service, or energy. A meal well worth the extra Benjamin. 601 Pennsylvania Ave., 202.628.2888, <a href=""></a>

  • Leica Flagship

    Having technical difficulties with your camera while touring our nation’s capital? Sure, you could just use your camera phone instead, but why not use the moment as an excuse to upgrade? When it comes to cameras, most photographers will agree that it doesn’t get any better than <a href="">Leica</a>. And now, with its first ever store in the U.S., fans can get a chance to experience the beauty of Leica up close and personal. Peruse through the brand’s full line of current products and test out the greatness first-hand in the demo area, fully equip with professional lighting and backdrops. If you find yourself getting depressed by the price tag (they don’t call it the Rolex of cameras for nothing) make your way to shop’s gallery to admire breathtaking photographs taken by Leica cameras. Living vicariously through photos never hurt anyone -- or their wallet. 977 F St. NW, 202.787.5900, <a href=""></a>

  • Liason, Capitol Hill

    Whether you’re a site-seeing tourist in seek of refuge from big crowds, or a power-suit work-a-holic in need of some unwinding, <a href="">Capitol Hill’s only open-air rooftop bar</a> will definitely meet your needs. The seasonal venue features handcrafted specialty drinks and quick eats. With the weather cooling down in temperatures, the pool isn’t your best bet, but the happy-hour specials and views from up above still make it worth visiting. 415 New Jersey Ave. NW, 202.638.1616 <a href=""></a>

  • Suitsupply

    In a city swarming with men in suits and ties, <a href="">Suitsupply </a>provides sophisticated D.C. men the unique opportunity to fit in while standing out. Located in the heart of Georgetown, within the Four Seasons, the Amsterdam-based company maintains its tradition of offering the finest Italian fabrics and European styling at an attainable price. From suits and cufflinks, to pocket squares and scarves; there’s no short supply of items that will have you turning heads -- from the boardroom to a night on the town. 2828 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.800.7800, <a href=""></a>

  • African-American Art Since 1955, Through Dec. 14

    In collaboration with the Smithsonian, the <a href="">African-American Art Since 1955</a> examines the evolution of art spanning 60 years. The work of renowned artists like Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden and Sam Gilliam and risings stars such as Kara Walker, Lorna Simpson and Chakaia Booker will be available for your viewing pleasure.

  • Wind Me Up Chuck! Mondays, October 1

    Get your weekly fix of Go-Go music with Wake Me Up Chuck! Mondays. The ongoing series, in honor of the Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, will offer up tunes from artists and icons who inspired Brown and influenced by him as well. This Monday, the series will kick off with the funk master George Clinton as well as appearances from Brown’s daughter. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $17.50 or at the door for $22.50. Visit the <a href="">Howard Theater</a> website for more details.

  • Taste Of D.C., October 6-8

    The Taste of D.C., one of the city’s most coveted food festivals, is making its return this weekend. More than 50 of the city’s best restaurants and over 30 local, national and international beers will be on hand to satisfy your gluttonous cravings. Local chefs will be putting their skills to use with live demonstrations and the festival will have plenty of entertainment and games to keep the little ones occupied. Tickets can be purchased online for $8.99 or $10 at the door; <a href=""></a>