Get Involved to Save the World in 2018

by - Friday, January 12, 2018

get involved in organizations to save the world in 2018

So most of the people reading this blog are probably already making some great decisions for the environment- you recycle, you avoid plastic like the plague, you are going easy on shopping. Making our own personal consumer choices better is hugely important (I mean, this whole blog is devoted to it), because it is the first step toward systemic change.

Today, even if you have resolved to help in so many ways, I am going to ask you to help move this systemic change along faster. Become an environmental activist (and there are so many ways to do this).

Because it has never been more important.

Because 2018 is a turning point for our world.

Because your voice matters, and it really can help.

Because getting involved in the fight to save our environment and our world will make your life better. No, really. It will. I promise.

I think we all know, deep down, that our world, our country, and our lives have reached a crossroad, and there is no room to be a passive observer. We are all part of this, whether we like it or not, so why not be on the side of good?

How It's Good for You

We are all already busy. We have plenty to worry about in our own lives. Why would we get involved in problems that are just so big?

Well, first, because these issues matter, and we can see that people (even a small but vocal group) can make a real positive difference by speaking up and showing our leaders that people are paying attention. That greed will not go unchecked.

Second, it's good for each of us to care about something bigger than ourselves. Sure, this last year caring has mostly meant incredible stress, but in general, helping others and being a part of something bigger than ourselves are listed as key components of happiness in research.

Third, it is the fastest way to make things happen. Talk about reaping real results. If I never use another plastic bag, I have saved a couple thousand plastic bags out of landfills and water. If I can convince everyone who reads this post, it's like 2,000 times that (so low millions- pretty awesome!). If we get plastic bag bans across the US, we are in the billions. 30 billion plastic bags a year. So, if you have an environmental ax to grind, changing your own choices is important, but taking a stand has even more impact.

Most importantly, because we are part of nature, and it's destruction is our destruction. Humans historically tend to separate ourselves from nature. But we are nature. As much a part of it as any leaf or rain or animal, we live in nature, nature moves through us in our food, and we are even home to billions of micro-organisms. So if biodiversity goes, we go with it. If water is polluted, we are poisoned. If the air is unclean, we breath that nonsense in.

There is no nature "out there," it is you, your body, your life, so the environment's health is your health as well. 

How It's Good for the Earth

We know that participation in environmental groups and movements greatly increases their effectiveness. Organizations and groups run a pretty wide gamut, from Greenpeace to The Story of Stuff to The Wilderness Project all attend to different areas of the Earth's help. Their work is vital and has saved so much (including human lives).

These groups need money and they need people power. And if you live somewhere where they aren't as active, they need you even more. Giving your enthusiasm, your ideas, your talents, your time, and your money takes these groups from dinky and struggling to thriving and effective.

I try not to say negative things here, but we all know that the EPA is working against the environment's protection right now, which means we citizens have to step up to help, or things are going to look seriously dire after this administration is done. The bottom line here is that people and groups who care about the environment are solidly out of power, so the only way we can win here is with numbers. So you may not feel like your signature or ten bucks matters, but these groups need it more than ever.

How to Do It

There are so many options here that you may have never thought of. These are just my ideas to get you started.

Join One Large Organization and One Local One

There are tons of groups out there to join, but you can really figure out how many you can handle and still do some good. My advice is to join two groups- one that is really large and can produce big numbers in demonstrations, donations, and petitions. The other should be something that is local, that can use your time as much as your money. Don't get caught in a bind where everything you're doing is far away and invisible.

For your local group ( I would say within 2 hours for rural areas, so you could show up for a demonstration if needed), you will have to do your research yourself. Ask around, and check bigger groups for local branches. You can do it.

For your larger organization, this is my list of some of the biggest environmental groups. But there are definitely more! So look around.

350- This beloved (by me at least) global grassroot movement's name stands for the uppermost safe level of CO2 in the air (we have surpassed it at 400).

The Arbor Day Foundation- This group plants trees around the country and promotes the planting of trees by individuals.

The Audobon Society- Fighting for bird species and their habitats.

Greenpeace- Yeah, you have heard of it. This organization is all about political activism, stepping up to fight injustice where it is happening and lobbying to protect the environment, fight big oil, and step up against injustice. 

The National Wildlife Federation- This group aims to protect American wildlife, maintaining biodiversity on our continent.

Natural Resources Defense Council- This coalition between lawyers, scientists, and members has created and continues to fight for vital legislation for clean air, clean water, and the protection of our natural world. Vitally important at this moment in history.

The Nature Conservancy- This organization is conserving a huge number of vital, yet at risk parts of our natural world.

Sierra Club- A huge grassroots organization that fights on many fronts to protect the environment, focusing on pipelines and the banks that fund them.

The Story of Stuff- This book and film transformed into a movement. They fight on multiple fronts, focusing on packaging and overconsumption, but you might also be interested in their fight against water privatization.

World Wildlife Fund- This organization protects animals- especially the most vulnerable.

There are so many more- thank goodness, but they need your help to survive.

Sign 10 Petitions This Year

If you don't have the money to become actual members of organizations, you can still be a BIG help. Pick any of these guys on the previous list, and join their facebook page. These organizations need signatures for their petitions and letters to politicians ALL THE TIME. We are looking for broad participation. One of the goals is simply to let those making decisions know that we do care and we are paying attention. So care, pay attention, and every time someone asks for a signature, take 30 seconds and do it.

This one is SO EASY. And it really does make a difference. Even if the environment isn't your primary battle, plug in enough that you can be backup when they need it.

Call One Representative a Week

I know for a fact that politicians have the sense that the environment is just not that important to people. They don't get that much pushback about it. When you look at what has actually been accomplished in the last year, the vast majority of their successes are pushing back environmental regulations. Part of this is because Scott Pruitt is a nasty weasel of a human being without a shred of integrity (I don't hate anyone, but I would let that guy hang out on the side of the road with a flat tire. I would not help that man). The other reason they have made those changes is because they could. If we don't want public lands to be sold off to big oil, we have to show we are listening.

Before this wonderful political climate, I had no experience talking to politicians or their office. Now, every Thursday while my eldest is at pre-school, I walk laps with my baby and call political offices. I still am super awkward, but I like the 5 Calls website, because I can pick an issue and read their script before I call. Again, still awkward, but less so. Such an awesome resource. Try it!

Hold Your Businesses to Task

Your neighborhood businesses want your money- why not reach out to them about making better choices? Want to put an end to plastic straws? Then ask them to switch to paper! Want them to bag in paper not plastic, send them a link to the studies on how much it can help the world.

Some people will recommend bringing this up somewhere like Yelp. I have mixed feelings about that, because I personally have not found people respond well to being publicly called out. At the very least, go into it gently, because people respond to being backed into a wall with defensiveness, and that doesn't help anything.

Another option is to write them a letter or a note on facebook. Or ask if you can talk to them about it in person. The Last Plastic Straw even has print outs you can leave at restaurants with plastic straws.

Even better? Start a local group that sends letters together or starts local petitions. Just one voice is kind of annoying nagging. 100 voices starts being concerning. Every voice added tells them they could potentially lose a customer, so pick a goal (no more plastic bags, no more plastic straws, stop triple wrapping things in plastic, etc), get a few friends together, and make it happen. It's never been easier with the internet to have a lot of impact and to really wake people up.

Plant Trees... Lots of Them

If every American family planted one tree this year, we could reduce one billion pounds of air pollution per year. One billion pounds. Know a place where some trees could be planted? Make an event! Host a picnic/ planting party! Again, planting one tree is AWESOME. Figuring out ways to encourage MANY trees being planted is even better. Resolve to plant 12 trees this year, and ask your friends to join you!

Clean Local Rivers and Beaches

We already know that our water sources are being polluted by our waste. It's one of those ways that our poor stewardship is hurting us RIGHT where we live, because it is killing off 100,000 mammals and even more birds a year. Luckily, since this is a problem all over the place, you may not have to go far to get involved.

You can find some local events on this map (also you can register something if you plan it!). The EPA used to have a resource to help find river clean ups, but Surprise! it's gone. But I would poke around and see what you find, because there are lots of special local organizations - such as Riverkeeper and Surfrider among others- doing this work as well.

Be Honest, Open, and LOUD About Caring

No one has ever been cool for caring too much or too deeply. These issues are especially ones that people would rather ignore, because they are complicated, difficult, and very uncomfortable to accept responsibility for. Caring loudly is powerful. Caring is absolutely contagious, especially when it comes in the form of positive enthusiasm.

I see this all the time. For every person I am sure I have turned off, I have also slowly helped people notice things they maybe never would have seen before. Friends and family tell me almost everyday about a new recycling program they heard about or something they bought at a thrift store or hey did you see this video about such and such thing. I love it. Because even if all they think is "Hey, B would love this," they are still thinking about it.

Enthusiasm and caring catches on slowly, one person at a time, and then in big waves. This is why grassroots works. Because you can't build something from nothing. But your caring is not nothing. It's powerful, it's big, and it's important. You could be a domino that tips a thousand more dominos. But only if you are brave enough to be open about your caring. I won't tell you it's always easy (I certainly have gotten over the worry I am annoying people), but nothing is more important.

get involved in organizations to save the world in 2018

Ok, so what are you doing to help save the world in 2018? Share your ideas with me!

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