Volunteering doesn’t only help other people. Performing acts of kindness releases a flood of positive neurotransmitters that benefit your physical and mental health, as well. Why not make part of your self-care routine involve nurturing the planet we rely upon for life?
You don’t have to go far beyond your front door to make a sustainable difference. Here are five of the best eco-friendly ways to volunteer in your community.
1. Grow Food To Share
Sometimes, the most meaningful and impactful actions you can take begin right in your backyard. Scores of Americans suffered from food insecurity before the pandemic, and things have gotten worse since then for many. By planting a garden, you can contribute your excess crops to community food banks while significantly reducing your carbon footprint.
When producers have to truck in produce from faraway places, it creates tons of greenhouse gas emissions. You don’t need much space for your plot. Urban apartment dwellers can line a balcony with containers or look to the rooftops. The elevation provides more access to sunlight and keeps plants away from exhaust fumes.
2. Participate In Or Start A Community Garden
Another way to bring the farm to the urban environment is by participating in a community garden. If your location doesn’t have one of these already, you can investigate starting one.
Begin by rounding up a group of like-minded neighbors. You can generate interest in your project by creating flyers for community bulletin boards and working social media groups on sites like Facebook and Nextdoor.
3. Organize A Cleanup
Are you the kind of person who stops to pick up litter on your morning walk? Think how much more your efforts could be if you had a few more sets of hands helping to volunteer.
You can organize a cleanup in your area through several methods. One is to communicate with your city council and create an event that invites the community to get involved. Another is to look into organizations such as Adopt-a-Highway and select a stretch of roadway to keep clean. This last method is also a useful way to generate positive publicity for your organization if you run a small business, as you’ll get a sign demonstrating your commitment.
4. Help Plant Trees
Trees are humankind’s best friends when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. You can take independent action by improving your property with chestnuts and elms or go bigger with a communitywide planting event.
You can generate interest and publicity in much the same way you organize a cleanup or community garden. Start by sharing your plans with local authorities, getting all necessary approvals and selecting a date. Then, use word-of-mouth methods like flyers and social media to spread the word.
5. Get Involved In Local Government
Are you ready to take your eco-friendliness to the next level? Why not get involved and volunteer with your local government so you have more agency to advocate for environmental protections in your hometown?
You don’t necessarily need to run for public office. You can make your voice known by attending city council and zoning board meetings. For example, is your city considering approving a new hotel or another high-traffic facility that will increase emissions in your area? Your input could make a difference in determining the required parking capacity and evaluating the overall environmental impact of the proposed improvement.
Of course, you could run for your city council or even a mayoral seat if you discover you love public service. Your actions could pave the way to an exciting new career while giving you the authority to make decisions that prompt meaningful change. If you prefer to keep your advocacy on a volunteer level, you can still sign up for various committees to advise decision-makers.
Help Green Your Community
Volunteering offers scores of benefits for your health and that of the planet. Help your community in the above eco-friendly ways. The payoffs will be well worth it.
Jane is an environmental writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers sustainability and eco-friendly living.