Earth Day is coming. Earth Day is a special holiday set aside to remind us to be good to the planet that sustains our lives. While we should be mindful of our responsibilities to the Earth all year, we should do something a little extra special for Earth Day. We should also use the day to remind ourselves why the Earth is important and to make a commitment to doing better for our planet for the rest of the year, sort of like specialized New Year’s resolutions for the Earth.
One of the best ways to get into the spirit of Earth Day and do something extra special for the Earth is to donate money to an environmental charity or help the charity’s cause in some other important way. This is a list of five charities that care for the Earth in five different ways year-round. Each one could use your help to carry on its mission. Pick one (or more) of these and celebrate Earth Day with a gift to the Earth!
The Nature Conservancy is an organization dedicated to protecting the natural environment worldwide. Naturally, the Nature Conservancy purchases and personally protects important land parcels. The organization also lobbies governments on behalf of the environment, seeking legislation that helps the environment. In addition, the Nature Conservancy builds partnerships with governments, businesses, institutions, and local populations to work together on solutions which are mutually beneficial to the people and the environment.
The Nature Conservancy sponsors many projects, both on its own and in partnerships with other entities. These projects include various initiatives to protect natural environments and to rebuild damaged and destroyed environments. The projects cover the entire globe, caring for the land, the water, and the air. They restore coral reefs and forests, study and protect specific populations of endangered animals and plants, broker “debt for nature” swaps in which a country’s debt is paid or forgiven now in exchange for specific environmental action or caretaking by that government, help natural areas and wildlife adapt to climate and ecological changes that are occurring, and teach poor people ecologically sustainable ways to earn a living while protecting the environment.
All of the Nature Conservancy’s projects are based in science. The organization keeps many excellent scientists on staff. The role of these staff scientists is to research the issues and concoct sound solutions that will actually work.
The Nature Conservancy operates on a cooperative philosophy, preferring to broker solutions that benefit everyone on all sides instead of fighting hostile adversaries for an uncompromising agenda.
You can help the cause by becoming a member or renewing your membership, or simply giving either a one-time or a recurring monthly gift. You can also adopt an acre of sensitive land in need of conservation, such as a piece of the rainforest or a bit of African savannah. Alternatively, you can adopt a coral reef. Through the “Plant a Billion Trees” program, you can plant a tree for $1 (or as many trees as you like for $1 each).
For Earth Day, I especially recommend planting a tree or adopting an acre as a symbol of your desire to care for the Earth.
Earth Island Institute
Earth Island Institute is an umbrella organization that provides basic structure and administrative support to environmental projects. Large non-profit organizations suffer from the same inability to change gears and reposition in response to changing needs as large for-profit corporations do. Meanwhile, starting up lots of small grassroots organizations to handle each individual issue is difficult and inefficient. New organizations have to lay certain groundwork, get certified as a non-profit, create administration, and so forth. Earth Island Institute cuts through all that by simply serving as the administration for each worthy grassroots cause. Each project is a separate organization dedicated to a specific cause. However, all the projects share certain costs of administration and organization, which eliminates waste and permits more donated money to fight for the purpose of the project.
Projects also have an easier time getting organized and getting going, which means that Earth Island Institute is usually one of the first organizations to respond to an environmental disaster, such as the BP oil fiasco.
In addition to serving as a backbone, Earth Island Institute helps to unify the projects and help them work together, which often produces some synergy that makes its projects more effective. Projects share a lot of ideas between them.
Earth Island Institute also produces a leading environmental magazine.
You can help the Institute by joining or renewing your membership. You can also make a direct donation as either a single gift or a recurring gift to the umbrella organization that will help wherever it is needed most. Alternatively, you can choose a specific project and make a direct donation to that project, either one time or monthly. Furthermore, Earth Island Institute has internships and volunteer positions for everyday citizens, even people without special qualifications, that do actually interesting things (much more interesting than simply canvassing or telemarketing to ask for money).
For Earth Day, I suggest you pick a project that is trying to achieve something for the Earth that is personally important to you, and donate money directly. Alternatively, put money in the bank on Mother Earth’s behalf to help ward off the next disaster by donating to the main organization.
The Environmental Defense Fund
The Environmental Defense Fund is most famous for its legal work. In the early days of the organization, the unofficial slogan was, “Sue the bastards!” Through lawsuits, the Environmental Defense Fund has forced the nation to step up and adopt more environmentally conscious practices.
The Environmental Defense Fund still goes to court whenever necessary. There are times when there is no other way, and they are the best at litigating for the environment. These days, however, they do prefer to try more cooperative solutions whenever possible. They forge alliances with governments, businesses, landowners, or anyone else who has a stake in the issues at hand and is willing to work with them. They also work with lawmakers to create, sponsor, and pass environmental laws.
The Environmental Defense Fund believes in market-based environmental policies. In the critical arena of carbon emissions, for example, the Environmental Defense Fund advocates carbon cap legislation that sets strict limits but allows free market trading of carbon credits with free market prices and full participation by everyone. The Environmental Defense Fund not only keeps a staff of economists, but claims to have the largest staff of economists of all environmental non-profit organizations.
Sound science leads all of Environmental Defense Fund’s policies, activities, and goals. In fact, a group of scientists founded Environmental Defense Fund in the first place, so science has always been at the core of the organization. Today, Environmental Defense Fund boasts that they have more scientists on staff than any other similar environmental organization.
You can help the Environmental Defense Fund with a donation, either one time or recurring. You can become a member by making a donation of $25 or more. You can help in an even more important way, however, by taking part in online activism by signing the Environmental Defense Fund’s online petitions. You can find these petitions by checking out the action alerts on the website. Even better, you can stay informed by signing up to receive the latest action alerts in your email box and/or by connecting to the Environmental Defense Fund on Facebook and/or Twitter.
For Earth Day, I suggest you sign a few petitions now and then make a long-term commitment by “liking” the Environmental Defense Fund on Facebook, following them on Twitter, or signing up for the email list.
The Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is one of the most respected environmental organizations in the entire world. Club members have joined together since 1892 to promote a safe and healthy place to live in and an enduring legacy of America’s wild places. The Sierra Club’s three foundational goals are to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself.
The Sierra Club promotes getting people personally involved with nature by getting people outside.
The Sierra Club is famous for its outings, environmental trips, and volunteer vacations. The outings are local group daytrips focusing on outdoor fun, local conservation, or environmental education, featuring a wide range of activities such as bird watching or hiking. Local outings are generally free, unless they require incidental expenses such as parking or entrance fees. The environmental trips are longer vacations providing an organized tour, often involving significant hiking or other physical activities. Volunteer vacations are working trips where a group goes to an area in need and performs some service or completes some project. In addition to these organized trips, the Sierra Club also operates several lodges where members can visit any time.
The Sierra Club is particularly famous for its outstanding magazine.
Politically, The Sierra Club is active in many environmental issues. The Club’s priorities belong to issues that promote safe and healthy environments, at all levels from locally to worldwide. As an American organization, they do tend to focus particularly on American environments and American communities. The Sierra Club is especially eternally committed to safeguarding communities from environmental hazards such as erosion and environmental disasters such as wildfires. Currently, the “hot” issues for the Sierra Club include reducing our dependence on oil and coal, transitioning to cleaner energy, finding cleaner and greener transportation alternatives, protecting wildlife habitats, and fighting global warming. The Club is also involved in fighting for clean water. Importantly, the Club is still working on the BP oil disaster, even now that public attention is slowly turning elsewhere.
You can help the Club by joining or renewing your membership. You can also make a direct donation as a one-time gift. More importantly, you can get involved, with or without a membership, by joining Club-sponsored outings in your area.
For Earth Day, I suggest you pick a local outing on or near Earth Day and get out and enjoy nature with your fellow lovers of the Great Outdoors. Then, commit to more outings throughout the year.
Rainforest Alliance exists to protect the rainforests. Rainforests are critical to the survival of the planet and host the greatest biodiversity of both plants and animals in one region on Earth. Despite the incalculable value of the rainforests, however, people are destroying these precious areas at an alarming rate. Rainforest Alliance steps up to counter this destruction.
Rainforest Alliance promotes sustainable agriculture, forestry, and tourism. The organization does this by certifying products and services that meet very stringent standards of sustainability and responsibility, including environmental protection, social equity, recycling, and wildlife conservation. Furthermore, Rainforest Alliance helps farmers, loggers, and tourism businesses reach the good practices that will earn them this certification. Rainforest Alliance provides live training in classes and workshops, gives out training materials, and offers diagnostic visits and other personalized help. Rainforest Alliance also actively recruits retail businesses interested in sourcing certified supplies to purchase certified products. In addition, Rainforest Alliance educates consumers about the meaning and value of its certification, and urges consumers to look for the signature green frog seal on products and travel services. As a result of this concerted effort, the certification seal is both prestigious and profitable. The green frog means sustainable goods that are respectful of and friendly to the rainforest.
You can help the Alliance with a donation, either one time or recurring. You can help in an even more important way, however, by purchasing certified products marked with the green frog. Each purchase encourages more businesses to want to get certified so they can earn your green business, too. Green your home and office with food and other groceries and wood-based products from tissues to furniture. You can find a list of certified products on the website, or you can just go shopping and hope to find the green frog on one of the choices at your local store or online shop.
For Earth Day, I suggest you purchase a bunch of green frog bananas, juice, coffee, or some other green frog food or drink. Then, going forward, make a commitment to purchase green frog products regularly.