As you may have deduced from reading Belly Up (or even just hearing about it), I’m an environmentalist. I like animals. I like unsullied natural places. And sadly, there are fewer and fewer animals and unsullied natural places every day. That’s generally because we humans don’t tread lightly on our planet. Luckily, there are many organizations devoted to reversing this trend. Or at least mitigating it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out which of them are the best at this and I thought I’d share them with you.
OK, this has to be the easiest way to preserve rainforest land imaginable. All you do is go to their website — www.therainforestsite.com — and click on the big green button. Then the site’s sponsors give money to preserve a few square feet of rainforest for each click. That’s right. You don’t even have to give any money. All you have to do is click a button. It takes approximately three seconds. I’ve been doing this every day for a few years now and have protected a few square acres of rainforest. The site itself protects about 11,000 square acres of land every year.
The thing is, it’s not enough to do it once. You need to do it every day. Which, again, is easy. Just bookmark the site and visit. While you’re there, you can also click on their related sites that give food,books and medical care to people in need. It takes less than thirty seconds to do it all. Less time than it takes to write an email or watch something on YouTube. And then you can feel good about yourself all day.
Sadly, a lot of the time, saving the planet involves money. And you probably don’t have a lot of money to donate. (Though maybe your parents do.) So the question is, if you do want to donate money to save the planet, which organizations put that money to the best use? It’s hard to beat the Nature Conservancy’s plan: They look for endangered ecosystems — and then simply buy the land. Since their founding in 1951, they’re saved 119,000 million acres of land — and over 5,000 miles of river — while operating 100 marine conservation projects — all over the world.
I donate to them every month. Maybe you can’t do that, but every little bit helps. Visit their site and see how you can get involved: www.nature.org.
The World Wildlife Fund is a fantastic organization dedicated to wilderness preservation and the protection of endangered species. Recently, I sat down with their animal crimes division and learned about the amazing work they are doing to combat such horrendous crimes as poaching and animal trafficking.
If you want to check them out, visit their website at http://www.worldwildlife.org. Make sure to donate as well — 85% of their spending is directed to worldwide conservation activities.
My good friend Scott Power (yes, that’s his real name) turned me on to this group. He sits on the board. This is another group that puts your money to a really good use. The good news is, the United States — and many other countries — have laws protecting the environment. The bad news is, the United States — and other countries — often don’t enforce their own environmental laws. So The Center forces them to. Thanks to their work, hundreds of animals are now protected under the Endangered Species Act that might not have been otherwise. You can learn more about what they’re up to at www.biologicaldiversity.org.
BUT WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO SPEND ANY MONEY?
Well, the good news is, there’s plenty of ways to save the planet that don’t cost anything — and actually save you money. Most of this is stuff you’ve probably heard of before. Like conserving energy. Turn off lights when you’re not in the room. Turn off the television when nobody’s watching it. Don’t run the dishwasher or the laundry machine until there’s a full load. Ride your bike for short trips instead of taking the car. All very easy things to do. But they add up — and they add up quickly.
You could make a game out of it with your family. Check out last month’s electric bill. (Or since electricity use tends to change every month, check out the bill from this month last year.) Then, do what you can to try to use less energy. When the new bill comes, see how much energy – and money — you’ve saved. Maybe it’ll be enough to buy everyone in the family ice cream. Or, better yet, to make a donation to one of the sites above.