Twelve Ways to Volunteer for the Environment

This Earth Day I thought I would give you something to do so you can avoid watching another tree planting ceremony (it’s just as painful live as on TV – don’t kid yourself). Get out and actually make a difference instead of watching other people do it.

1) Computer Recycling – Help bridge the digital divide by donating your computer to a reuse group like: Computer Recycling Center or Per Scholas . They will restore the machine and then give it to a non-profit, group or individual in need of a computer.  If you don’t have a computer to recycle contact one of the many electronics recycling groups on Google for other volunteer opportunities.

2) Food Gleaning – Gleaning means to gather what’s left over. Picking fruit from trees that would normally go to waste , donating excess veggies from your garden, or sending unsold baked goods at the end of the day to a homeless shelter are all ways to glean.  It feeds the hungry, keeps food local, and ensures that landfill space is not used up unnecessarily.

3) Kiva enables people all over the world to make microloans to those living in poverty who would like to start or support their small businesses.  You can choose which businesses you would like to loan money to based on their environmental impact.  For example – the first business I loaned money to was a group of women who wanted to resell used clothes .  In a matter of months the women had repaid the loan and I was able to support another small “green” business .

4) Audubon or any Wildlife Monitoring – Are you a biologist?  OR would you at least like to pretend to be a biologist so you can wear khaki cargo shorts and hiking boots? Wildlife monitoring is your activity of choice my friend. Monitor endangered populations of birds with Audubon or check for local groups like Washington’s Conservation Northwest , which monitor a variety of wildlife species.

5) Protest Puppy Mills Yes, that pure bred puppy you paid for causes big environmental damage. Why?  Because we don’t need more puppies in this world. We put down millions of companion animals every year. Besides being cruel, pet overpopulation sucks up valuable resources, and produces a large amount of…ummm…waste.  Not to mention puppy mills are disgusting, filthy places that do nothing but perpetuate horrific animal abuse.

6) Community Garden – Industrialized non-organic farming, food production, and transport are all environmentally destructive.  Community gardens provide nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables for you or your neighbors.  Volunteer at an established garden or start one of your own.  And think out of the box when planting your garden – in downtown Los Angeles there are gardens climbing the walls.

7) Speak up for MPAs – Think of Marine Protection Areas (MPAs ) as National Parks under the ocean.  MPAs protect delicate undersea ecosystems and allow fish stocks to recover from overfishing by providing valuable breeding room.  Many governments are debating implementing them so write your officials and ask them to follow scientific recommendations and establish MPAs today .

8) Start Some Seedlings – The fruit you eat everyday has seeds that can be saved and sprouted to make new plants (Note: You will have better chances trying to sprout organic seeds as non organic are often infertile). Go online to find gardening tips . If you don’t have a yard in which to grow the resulting seedlings donate them to a tree planting group (see #9) or community garden (see #6).

9) Plant a Tree – You could always plant a tree yourself instead of watching the aforementioned boring ceremony.  You could. It’s easy.  Just check out this how to page. Trees provide oxygen, shade, wildlife habitat, keep topsoil in place, and sometimes even shell out food.   There’s also lot’s of exercise involved in planting a tree.  Go to for more info. Moving on…

10) Clean a Beach, Highway, or National Park – This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Check out these clean up campaigns: International Coastal Cleanup and Keep America Beautiful.

11) Monitor Water Quality – Some people just won’t stop dumping crap in our water until they are forced to by a watchdog group.  You can help your local watchdogs and have grand adventures while testing streams, lakes, and rivers for pollutants. Contact my friends at Heal The Bay or the Ocean Conservancy to be directed to groups who test in your area.

12) Educate Youngsters – Become a speaker or educator for an environmental organization which visits schools. Read environmentally themed books to kids next time you volunteer to read at a school (I recommend “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss). It’s the least we can do for damaging the planet we are handing down.

Article by Raegan Payne appearing courtesy Celsias.

photo: Mosman Council

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One comment on “Twelve Ways to Volunteer for the Environment


Great points you have here. The important thing is to care for the environment. If one doesn’t care about it, then its bound to be doomed. Segregating is one of the easy steps.

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