The size of each American’s carbon footprint varies tremendously, say between a millionaire and a monk. Perhaps you think you do what you can to minimize your impact. You may be surprised that an MIT study showed that even the low energy users in the U.S. on average produce twice the global average carbon emissions.
Perhaps making a positive difference to people and planet is important to you. Read on for 10 ways you can give back to the community and the planet.
1. Tree Planting
Trees in urban areas take out 17 million tons of air pollution every year. This means that 670,000 cases of acute breathing problems are prevented. These and other environmental contributions made by urban trees is reason enough to plant trees but there’s more.
Trees reduce the need for air conditioning. This makes life more tolerable for people living without air conditioning. This is typically in areas of social and economic deprivation.
Planting trees in urban areas will enhance people’s lives, helps reduce social inequality and helps the environment. Get planting.
2. Grow in the Community
In 2008 in a small post-industrial market town in northern England, two women met with a group of friends to share an idea called Incredible Edible. They wanted to plant vegetables and fruit in unloved corners, public spaces, and grass verges. They hoped that people would take what they needed and the project would connect people to each other too.
Get involved with a community garden or start your own project. Even better if you garden organically. You may find that you grow more than plants.
The Incredible Edible project started in Todmorden, West Yorkshire but has spread its branches internationally to France, Japan, and New Zealand with 1000 groups globally.
3. Start-Up Business Mentor
Have you got business experience? Could you use this to help fledgeling enterprises in your community? Sometimes all budding entrepreneurs need is some encouragement and some basic advice.
A thriving community needs commercial activity. It provides goods and services in the community as well as income and jobs. Getting started is tough especially if you don’t have experience.
Offer your services through a formal business mentoring scheme or advertise your services locally. You might be giving the next Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs a start in life.
4. Environmental Vacation
Do you need a holiday from your routine job and humdrum life? Take a vacation that will excite, renew, and invigorate you. Take a working vocation helping to improve the environment.
You could tag sea turtles to help their protection. You could do conservation work in a national park and help prevent deforestation. You could help educate young people about the environment at a summer camp.
5. Clean-Up a Shoreline
Our shorelines can be wonderful adventures in nature. Unfortunately, all too often, they can also show all the signs of environmental catastrophe. Pollution, plastic and other waste litter our shorelines and damages the fragile ecosystems in our oceans.
A saltwater clean up crew can go to work on a shoreline and remove single-use plastic carrier bags, water bottles, and plastic twine by the ton. All these items have the potential to damage marine invertebrates, fish, birds, and mammals. Removing them from the sea and the shoreline is painstaking but important work.
6. Champion Volunteering
You can make a tremendous contribution to your community by volunteering. You can make an even bigger difference if you organize others to volunteer. Community groups often need administrative support to make the most of volunteering.
Workplace volunteering is popular and people often want to help out but they don’t know how best to do it. A workplace community volunteering champion can help direct that goodwill in useful directions. Use your enthusiasm to engage others in community activity and recruit them as volunteers.
7. Litter Pick
Litter is the blight of many neighborhoods. When people dispose of their fast food packaging or other litter indiscriminately it is unsightly, un-hygienic and may be harmful to wildlife.
You may have commented that somebody ought to do something about it. That somebody could be you. Organize a litter picking squad for your neighborhood.
A litter pick can be a community activity. Engage young people, families and older people to meet at a designated time and place. Ask for sponsorship from local business owners to pay for materials such as bags and personal protective clothing.
A community litter pick can start to encourage people to care for their community. It can be fun and fulfilling work.
8. Pet Share
Having a pet can be very rewarding. There’s little better than the unconditional love of a dog or the warmth of a purring cat on your lap. Not everybody is able to care for a pet but if you have one you could share it with others.
Hospitals and homes for the elderly often find that having a visit from a friendly pet can be therapeutic. Petting an animal is known to reduce blood pressure, stress and anxiety. Offer your pet for hospital or care home visits and share the love.
9. Coach a Sports Team
Sports are often a major force for good in people’s lives. They build confidence, promote teamwork, and help with physical and mental health. Without the service of volunteers, many sports opportunities for young people would not exist.
Train to be a coach and you can enable young people to participate in a life-changing activity. It’s satisfying to see a young person achieve more than they expected and to foster their talents.
If you’ve enjoyed sports as a young person, being a sports coach can be a great way to re-live the competitive spirit you once had on the field of play. Get properly qualified and you’ll know that the help you are giving is based on sound principles. You’ll need to be able to look after the health, safety, and safeguarding of young people.
10. Community Picnic
Do you live in a neighborhood where people live but never have much contact with their neighbors? Sometimes people can be lonely even while living with people all around them.
It’s possible that due to the pressures of modern life people leave their homes in the morning, walk to their car and go to work without meeting other people in the community. At night time, people return from their work, go into their homes and see nobody. Older people sometimes can’t leave their homes much and see little of other people.
Organize a community picnic and invite everybody in the neighborhood to attend. Have a small committee to organize things and encourage everybody to help. People can bring their own food or contribute to a community feast.
A few games for children can be fun. Some music will lighten the mood.
Give Back to the Community and the Planet
Take the initiative and you can make your community and the planet a better place to live. Get involved and support others who are doing something to give back to the community. You’ll find it rewarding too.
Read more about ways to save the environment.