Most people rally to give back to their communities during the holiday season. But what about the rest of the year? Here are seven ways that you can help make the world a better place, whatever month it is.
1. PUT YOUR EXPERTISE TO GOOD USE.
Most people today turn to online encyclopedias for information about … everything. But these sites, which are written and edited by volunteers, often have large gender and race gaps; many important people and movements don’t have their own pages yet. Gather a group of friends, some history books, newspaper clippings, and photos of topics that you think should be included. Then create and improve as many entries as possible.
2. RUN YOUR ERRANDS (FOR REAL).
Driving releases emissions into the air that exacerbate global warming. The next time you need to do a quick errand, consider going carless by hopping on your bike—or even going for a jog. Wear a backpack with a chest strap and you could even carry a load of groceries. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint, ease auto traffic, and get in shape without paying for a gym membership.
3. VOLUNTEER FOR A CRISIS HOTLINE.
Put your listening skills to work by volunteering for a crisis hotline. Many require a background check and training, but once you’ve completed those steps, you’ll be able to accept calls or texts from people in need. Don’t worry too much about getting in over your head—most interactions are supervised by trained counselors, so if a caller requires more than a friendly ear to talk to, a professional will step in.
4. AIR DRY YOUR CLOTHES.
Most energy we use in the U.S. comes from non-renewable resources such as coal and natural gas. So cutting back on your electricity consumption can help prolong the supply of these resources for everyone and reduce your energy bill. The next time you do laundry, skip the energy-hungry dryer and hang your clothes to dry instead. It’s good for the planet and the life of your clothes.
5. DONATE BLOOD.
People often don’t think about donating blood until a tragedy strikes. But it’s a simple, 10-minute act you can do every few weeks to provide life-saving emergency care to others. If you are illegible to donate blood for transfusions, you may still be able to contribute blood components to local research facilities, which can use them for medical studies.
6. SEND A CARE PACKAGE TO TROOPS.
Even if you don’t know anyone serving in the military, you can still send care packages to them to show your gratitude and help increase morale. Search for a nonprofit organization online that specializes in care packages. Shop for the items they suggest—candy and beef jerky are always a hit—write a thank you card, and mail them to the address provided.
7. BUY SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD.
Industrial-scale fishing has severely depleted the world’s fish populations, which threatens our access to quality fish and the fragile ecosystems of our bodies of water. Seafood caught using sustainable practices, however, lessen this strain. The next time you are buying fish, whether at the grocery store or at a sushi bar, ask for sustainable. If they don’t have it, or don’t know how to answer your question, simply asking will signal to them that customers expect ocean-friendly food. Supplying it is good business—and good for the environment.