After the extreme materialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes an opportunity to support your favorite causes — without acquiring more stuff. Instead, Giving Tuesday encourages people to do good. Since its creation in 2012, the day has turned into a global movement inspiring generosity. Here’s how to celebrate, plus some environmental charities to consider supporting.
Ways to give
The most obvious way to give on Giving Tuesday is through a monetary donation — and we’ll get to that in a minute — but don’t let a shortage of cash keep you from participating. If you have more time than money, donating volunteer hours can make a huge difference. You could also give voice as an activist, advocating for your nearest and dearest causes by signing petitions or amplifying their messages through your social media accounts. Maybe you have a special talent that a nonprofit organization needs, such as being able to consult on HR or IT. Taproot matches talented volunteers with the organizations that need their skills. You can also donate goods. Do you still have gifts from past holidays that you never or barely used? Consider giving those unused gifts to somebody who needs them more.
Related: Survey shows most adults prefer volunteering at local parks and recreation areas
Environmental causes to support
The number of nonprofits that need support is truly staggering. Whether your heart lies with trees, the climate, whales or just about anything else, you’ll find an organization thrilled to accept your donation. Here are just a few of the many worthy environmental charities you might choose to support on Giving Tuesday.
This crowdfunding platform began in 1998 by supporting clean-burning woodstoves in Honduras. Now, Cool Effect helps people support carbon-reducing projects around the world. As the nonprofit puts it, “We have made reducing carbon pollution as simple as tapping a button. Together, small actions can ignite planet-sized change.” All those small actions add up. Cool Effect has already reduced carbon emissions by more than 2 million metric tons.
Heal the Bay
This environmental nonprofit works to make water around Greater Los Angeles safe for marine life and human recreation. Heal the Bay started 35 years ago to protect the Santa Monica Bay. Now, the nonprofit provides water quality information every week for 450 California beaches. That’s a big job. They also monitor the quality of popular freshwater recreation areas such as the Malibu Creek, LA River and San Gabriel River watersheds.
This famous, internationally known nonprofit conserves biodiversity and helps ensure sustainable livelihoods for people who toil in rainforests. If you’ve ever bought a product with a certification seal featuring a frog, that’s the Rainforest Alliance letting you know that the product is environmentally sound and contributes to socioeconomic sustainability. Giving Tuesday is a good time to remember and help the lungs of our planet.
Sea Turtle Conservancy
Just about everybody likes turtles, so a donation to the Sea Turtle Conservancy in your friend or family member’s name could make for a great holiday gift. There are many turtle-focused organizations these days, but the Florida-based Sea Turtle Conservancy is the oldest. Founded in 1959, it was instrumental in raising turtle awareness and saving the Caribbean green turtle from the brink of extinction.
Louisiana Environmental Action Network
Louisiana is a beautiful state, but it is also one that has been unfairly exploited by petrochemical companies and other similarly toxic industries. Since the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN)’s founding in 1986, it has served as a voice for Louisianans who want to live in their state without seeing its beauty destroyed and their family members felled by cancer. The organization can use your spare dollars to continue the fight against huge polluting industries.
Human Access Project
Portland’s Willamette River has historically served as a dumping ground for industry. But a massive cleanup effort has made the Willamette safe for recreation. Still, locals are leery. Since 2010, the Human Access Project (HAP) has worked to improve the river’s reputation and increase people’s access to it. HAP is responsible for hosting an annual inner tube party on the river called The Big Float, organizing the River Huggers Swim Team and helping to build river beaches for people to swim, launch their kayaks or just hang out.
Bat Conservation International
People often fear bats, but these mysterious little creatures are crucial to ecosystems. Many have already died from human encroachment and white-nose syndrome. Bat Conservation International focuses its attention on the world’s most vulnerable bats and their habitats. The organization always remembers that it may be operating as a guest in other countries. “We are respectful visitors to the countries where we work — seeking to learn, understand, and honor the historical, cultural, political, and economic context of our projects,” BCI states on its website.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
If you’re a hiker, you’ve probably thought about those usually unseen people who spend countless hours building and maintaining trails. Where would we be without them? Lost in the bushes. Remember your favorite trails on Giving Tuesday. Perhaps a donation to preserve the pathways, forests and clean water of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy would be in order.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you could donate to Community Solidarity, the largest all-vegetarian hunger relief food program in the U.S. Community Solidarity serves people in the New York City and Long Island areas with free groceries and warm, vegan meals.
Defenders of Wildlife
Can’t decide between supporting manatees, wolves or prairie chickens? Help them all with a donation to Defenders of Wildlife. The organization’s mission is to protect and restore endangered wildlife across North America and beyond. You can also help out by purchasing branded merchandise or supporting its adopt-an-animal program.
Natural Resources Defense Council
Founded in 1970, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a big organization that helps the environment in many ways. The New York Times has called NRDC one of the nation’s most powerful environmental groups. The organization works on overarching issues like food waste, wildlife conservation, climate change and renewable energy.
+ Giving Tuesday
Images via Kat Yukawa, Joel Muniz and Josh Hild