Jun 24, 2016

Learn how to be a Green Volunteer

1. Find the Time to Volunteer
Your first reaction to the thought of volunteering your time may well be: what time? But you can't help others until you help yourself. So ask yourself the following: Do you need more time for fitness? Then volunteer to do something active. Would you invest some time in continuing education, building skills or strengthening your resume? Volunteering can expand your horizons and help you build good contacts. Not enough time with your family? Nothing brings people closer together than working side-by-side for a good cause. Just remember: Don't over-commit, but ask yourself how volunteering could be the value-added time you will anyways dedicate to goals of your own. Worried this approach seems selfish? Don't! The most effective volunteers are those who do things that match their pace.
2. Do Your Research
Use the Internet as a platform for social networking in order to find interesting and worthwhile causes. For example, follow leads from sites you trust, like Planet Green's NGO Partners or join in the TreeHugger Forums. Networking in person more your thing? Connect with a GreenDrinks -- a global organization with hundreds of local factions where people get together over cocktails. (No GreenDrinks near you? Volunteer project found: Launch a group!) Finally, check out some of the links at the end of this article for major organizations, but don't forget to search for local ones, too.
3. Bring Your Best Skills to the Table
You may be asking yourself, But what can I offer?. Look for opportunities that match your interests and skills, and be a little selfish (see tip 1 above) so that you can become selfless. You may be surprised to learn how global and local environmental concerns dovetail with your day-to-day activities, in your quest to understand the whats and whys of choosing the right cause. But rest assured that as a person with environmental interests, you're likely to be in demand. Here's why: 58 percent of Meals on Wheels programs, for example, have lost volunteers due to spikes in gas prices; meanwhile, groups such as Pedal People -- an organization that carts recycling and delivers groceries – are filling the gap. And an issue like dealing with waste from Katrina, for example, demands volunteers with environmental expertise and passion.
4. Begin Near Home
Don't overlook the fact that the causes that interest you most may be those at your doorstep. Volunteering close to home has many advantages. For instance, finding time to work closer to home can be easier on your schedule, you will be respected in your community, you will make a difference that may benefit your colleagues and loved ones, and you'll cut down on your environmental impact via transport. Great ways to participate include: Joining Community Supported Agriculture, which allows volunteers to take part in the harvest. Or you could help mobilize schools and local groups to work together with Clean Up the World, a U.N.-sanctioned, community-based project. Let Planet Green show you how to Green your Community and make your neighborhood a better environment for living.
5. Or Volunteer Away From Home
Volunteering may make you think outside of your day-to-day green routine. If you are traveling to do your duty, check out disaster blogs or travel blogs by people who have been there before you; it will help you pack light and be culturally current. You can also search the TreeHugger archives for special topics like environmental issues in disaster recovery, or relief housing options. And don't forget to plan ahead to green your travel.
6. Volunteer to See the World
“Voluntouring” is a growing trend. But take special care in selecting opportunities to offer your time and energy abroad. You could potentially be taking a job away from a local person. Plus, exhausting your money and resources on international travel can get pricey, and those jet emissions could perhaps be counterproductive to your work. Also, the rapid growth of Philanthropic Travel has spurred some questionable practices. Watch out for travel agencies masquerading as volunteer organizations. It's not unusual to ask volunteers to help fund their upkeep, but the contribution should be reasonable. A reputable volunteer organization will have longer-term people on location who serve as a link to help newbies focus on a project. As always, ask for references, which is the best way to weed out the bad actors and find a good experience, which will benefit you and the cause you seek to bolster.
7. Take Action in a Day or in an Hour!
Keep an eye out for short-term volunteer opportunities. It only takes a moment to donate your old eyeglasses or start a guerilla garden. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you can check the calendar at One Brick commitment-free volunteering and r.s.v.p. to spend a day for a good cause. Or look for events that need hoards of volunteers to make them happen, such as the West Coast Green Conference. You can often get access to great events as a benefit of volunteering your time.
8. Champion Your Cause
Have you got what it takes to embrace a leadership role in changing the world? Don't underestimate your personal power to advocate for green causes. True environmental heroes come from all walks of life. Take inspiration from heroes such as Rosa Hilda Ramos, the 63-year old grandmother who took on the power companies to protect the wetlands; or from Brower Youth Award winner Q'Orianka Kilcher, who, at the tender age of 15, shed light upon the fact that 800,000 barrels of toxic wastewater were being dumped into a Peruvian Amazonian river basin. Apply the wisdom of tradition, like Jesus Leon Santos, who uses ancient agriculture systems to turn drought lands into fertile grounds, or take a modern approach like TreeHugger founder Graham Hill. Wherever you find inspiration, know that you can advocate for a greener world, even in the small things that you do.
9. Put Your Money to Work
So you really, really don't have the time? Or maybe you are volunteering already and see clearly that there is no point in dying rich? Then consider offering some funds toward good green causes. To select where your money goes, we suggest using the same techniques mentioned above for choosing an organization with which to spend your time.
10. Spread the Word
You did it! You love the feeling of giving back! It would be a terrible shame not to share everything you learned in your quest to find the perfect volunteering match for yourself. But you don't necessarily want to go all evangelical on your friends. What to do? Spread the word where people who are in a similar search can find it.
Source: Planet Green

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