Mother Earth has needs, too. These ten campaigns support, protect, and nurture the environment all in their own way — from keeping beaches and marine life clean to monitoring polar ice caps. Learn about (and get involved with!) the campaigns doing their part to take care of the planet.
1. Charity: WaterPhoto by Esther Havens
Though charity: water sets out to help people rather than the environment itself, they are giving new life to one of the planet’s natural resources. Unsafe water (and lack of basic sanitation) kills more people every year than all forms of violence combined, including war. This charity aims to significantly reduce disease in the developing world by making one of life’s most basic needs — clean water — more accessible. The organization chooses locations in need around the world to build water and sanitation services, considerably reducing the amount of time and effort spent collecting water (that wasn’t even safe in the first place). The best part about this charity? 100 percent of public donations go to funding projects. (In other words, your donation goes right to where it’s needed — not to help cover charity: water’s operating costs.)
Want to help fund a water project? Donate here.
This campaign is a cinch to participate in: For 30 days (and hopefully for longer than that), campaigners pledge to ditch disposable plastic water bottles in favor of regular old tap water (served up in reusable bottles or plain ol’ glasses). Not only is tap water more cost-efficient, but one person going disposable-free for a month saves an average of 18 bottles from entering landfills. Purchasing your own reusable bottle and tossing it in a work or gym bag takes no time and — best of all — it’s free to fill up. Pledging to ditch disposable doesn’t have to stop after 30 days. Make it a habit and stay hydrated the smart way.
Ready to ditch disposable? Pledge here.
3. No Farms No FoodPhoto: Farmland.org
Whether we like it or not, our food systems have drastically changed — for better and for worse. While smaller-scale farms provide healthy local food throughout the U.S., they are rapidly disappearing. The message of No Farms No Food is simple: Supporting local food is crucial. This campaign uses donations to protect local farmland, educate communities about the importance of farms, and push legislation to support local food. Eating locally grown, seasonal produce can actually be a much better choice for the environment and your health too. Most of the time, choosing produce grown at local farms — general considered to be within a 100-mile radius — can be the greener (and more nutritious) choice since fruits and veggies don’t need to be shipped across the country.
Like to get involved? Sign the petition to protect local farms and food here.
4. Think.Eat.SavePhoto: Think.Eat.Save
Ever tossed a bunch of bananas because they ripened too fast or dumped a package of expired chicken in the trash? Think.Eat.Save is on a mission to help people become more aware of food waste. Using initiatives already set in place, including the Save Food initiative and Feeding the 5000, plus tons of tips to cut down on food waste, this campaign is about changing people’s habits to spark lifelong change. At the end of the day, wasted food means wasted water, energy, and land, plus loads of greenhouse gas emissions from both the production and disposal of food. (Read more: 29 Smart and Easy Tips to Reduce Food Waste)
Ready to think, eat, and save? Take action here.
5. IceBridgePhoto by Ludovic Brucker
This six-year NASA mission may not be as simple as switching to tap water or cutting down food waste, but it’s just as important. IceBridge, the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice, will soon provide us the most accurate measure of change over time. The data collected during the mission (which will be completed in 2016) helps scientists keep track of annual changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets. Rather then prevent further environmental damage like some of the other campaigns on this list, IceBridge is out to provide concrete data about what to expect from global climate change for years to come.
6. I Want to Be
Photo: I Want to Be
Rather than sound like a “rinse, reuse, recycle” broken record, I Want to Be urges people to give their trash new life. In partnership with Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council, this campaign turns things like water bottles and aluminum cans into new, inventive, and useful objects like park benches, bikes, and siding for sports stadiums. With short videos that put a theatrical spin on recycling, I Want to Be helps us rethink our garbage and how to get rid of it the best way possible.
Time to spread the word? Become a recycling expert here.
7. Trees for Cities
Photo: Trees for Cities
From Nairobi to New York City, this London-born organization aims to strengthen communities, beautify cities, and improve urban environments worldwide by developing beautiful, utilitarian urban green spaces. Trees not only bring nature to metropolitan areas, they help clean the air by absorbing pollutants, provide oxygen, save water, and grow food (amongst plenty of other benefits). Support Trees for Cities by participating in a fundraising event, or get out there and join in on a planting day.
Interested in volunteering? Register here.
8. Surfers Against Sewage
Photo: Surfers Against Sewage
From cleaning up marine litter and sewage pollution, to increasing awareness about toxic chemicals and climate change, UK-based Surfers Against Sewage aims to improve the quality of the world’s oceans and beaches. While educating the public about conserving and protecting the marine environment, SAS works to change government policy and industry practices for the better, too. This award-winning charity — with separate campaigns to combat marine litter, improve water quality, and educate about climate change (for starters) — is taking care of beaches one cigarette butt at a time.
Ready to clean up dirty beaches? Get involved here.
9. Solar Schools
Photo: Illinois Solar Schools
Solar Schools installs solar electricity panels on school roofs across the nation. While the primary goal of the campaign is to harness solar power, which emits fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels, Solar Schools also aims to educate students and parents about how solar panels work. Each installation puts environmental consciousness in kids’ minds early on. The campaign also provides teacher training and workshops about sustainable energy. Most schools also receive live data so students can check out how much electricity their panels create.
Check out the Solar Schools here.
10. Slow Food
Photo: Slow Food USA
Slow Food isn’t just a campaign; it’s a way of life. Putting a priority on sustainability by focusing on local food, Slow Food is a global organization (spanning more than 160 countries) that teaches people how to make smart choices in food selection, celebrates food traditions and taking time to enjoy eating, and tackles tough topics like genetically modified organisms and animal welfare. This campaign does a whole lot to protect local food through education events at schools and hospitals and with fairs and tours that showcase sustainable agriculture and artisan foods.
Want to get involved? Choose to slow down here.