We all know how important it is to do our part toward helping the environment. Recycling, buying locally produced foods, and watching energy use are all great actions that benefit the Earth. But there’s even more we can do. Environmental volunteerism provides ways for nature lovers of all ages to help keep our world healthy, meet others with similar interests, and reap the many physical and mental benefits that volunteering has to offer.
Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering helps both the environment and the people providing the service. According to a report from Harvard Medical School, people who volunteer regularly are 16 percent more likely to describe themselves as “very happy” than those who don’t volunteer. Environmental projects tend to involve physical activity, giving those involved an extra dose of exercise. As a bonus, kids who work toward environmental causes tend to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of environmental issues – and since they’re the ones inheriting our planet, that’s a good thing. Here are a few ways to help the environment through volunteering:
Start your search for volunteering opportunities with an organization such as the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. The EPA blog and Volunteer for Change guide to environmental community service acts as a clearinghouse for opportunities, from monitoring water quality with the Adopt Your Watershed initiative to helping schools get greener.
Join the Movement
Non-profit organizations are always looking for volunteers. National groups such as the Nature Conservancy, the National Resource Defense Council, the Clean Water Network and the Sierra Club, to name a few, often need volunteers for projects at the local level. Some groups sponsor volunteer vacations to different locales, combing eco-tourism with active work. Your hometown may have a few environmental organizations of its own, too, that may be non-profits, civic clubs, or simply groups of like-minded people who gather to make a difference.
Start Your Own Program
If you can’t find a volunteer opportunity in your area, start your own! Your project can be as simple as picking up trash in a public park or along a waterway, or more complex, such as starting a recycling program for your neighborhood. Look for community-service-oriented organizations in your area, including the Girl Scouts or United Way, and form a partnership about a green cause you feel passionate about.
Participating in volunteer activities that better the environment is an excellent way to give back to the community while helping to ensure a greener, cleaner future for everyone.