How to Volunteer to Help the Environment

If the citizens of Earth don't start taking care of the planet today, it might be too late to take care of it in the future.
If the citizens of Earth don't start taking care of the planet today, it might be too late to take care of it in the future.
Visions of America-Joe Sohm/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Let's say you're not feeling very well. You feel shaky, achy and listless. You pad over to the medicine cabinet and get out the thermometer. Your temperature is 100 F (38.8 C). Since the average body's temperature is 98.6 F (37 C), you have a fever. Right? Considering the fact that Earth's temperature is estimated to have risen 1.2 to 1.4 F (0.7 to 0.8 C) over the last 100 years, you could say that Earth has a temperature, too [source: EPA]. It's not just the temperature of the planet that you need to worry about, however. All around the world, communities are finding they have severe problems with drought, air or water pollution, and garbage.

It's easy to get bystander syndrome about the environment and imagine someone else will "take care of it." But the truth of the matter is, if the citizens of Earth don't start taking care of the planet today, it might be too late to take care of it in the future. Imagine an old house in the country that's been abandoned by early pioneers. Without anyone to maintain the structure, it eventually collapses in on itself. If humans continue to neglect their home, millions of species could die, droughts can get worse and the Arctic Ocean could become iceless [source: An Inconvenient Truth].


You can do your part by volunteering to help the environment. Plenty of organizations exist that will allow you to help in big or small ways. And if you can't find one that seems like a good fit, you could start a group of your own. In this article, we'll take a look at both of these options. Read on to get green.

Organizations Helping the Environment

Volunteering for an environmental organization can be very rewarding and beneficial, especially if it's a good match. Before joining any organization, do some research to find out if its mission statement aligns with your concerns and goals and learn what it expects of its volunteers.

Some well-known and respected environmental organizations include:


  • World Wildlife Federation -- This organization is dedicated to helping endangered species and animal habitats worldwide.
  • The Nature Conservancy -- This international group specializes in saving land, water sources and animal species.
  • Arbor Day Foundation -- This national organization focuses on conserving and planting trees.
  • Greenpeace -- This worldwide organization is dedicated to protecting the world's oceans, cleaning up toxins and saving endangered animals.
  • Sierra Club -- This grassroots national organization works toward curbing carbon emissions and finding clean energy solutions.

It's easy to search the Internet for organizations that meet your interests. You can locate groups focused on climate control, carbon footprints, flora and fauna, water and air pollution, and wildlife using key-word searches. You can also contact your state's Department of Natural Resources or Department of the Environment for more information.

Do you have an idea for an event that can help your local environment? Read on to learn about organizing environmental programs.


Organizing Programs to Help the Environment

If you don't have the time or funds to join a broad environmental program, you can volunteer to help in your local community. All you need is a bit of time, some friends or neighbors and a goal. You can raise funds for environmental causes by hosting yard sales, bake sales, auctions, walks or other events. But if you want to get out there and truly be one with the environment, you can host an outdoor program.

One popular program is called Adopt-a-Highway. Depending on where you live, you may be able to join the program through the state. In Minnesota, groups or organizations can maintain a segment of the highway upon agreement to two years of service. Volunteers pick up the litter and garbage along both sides of the highway a few times each year [source: MDOT]. This is a simple, easy way to help your community and get some exercise. You can carry this idea a step further by cleaning up rivers, parks or other roads. West Virginia has a "Make It Shine" program devoted solely to keeping the state clean and beautiful [source: WVDEP].


If you don't already have one, start a recycling program in your community. You could also create and maintain a community or school garden to raise environmental awareness. In the event of a natural disaster, pitch in to help clean up the debris or any toxin spills. You can also plant native wildflower patches or volunteer to help at wildlife refuges. When you stop and look around, you'll realize there are endless projects waiting to be started. You can do it, and others will be happy to help!

For more information, check out the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • ADF. "home." (Accessed 05/13/09)
  • ADF. "The History of Arbor Day." (Accessed 05/13/09)
  • An Inconvenient Truth. "The Science." (Accessed 05/13/09)
  • EPA. "Climate Change: FAQ." (Accessed 05/13/09)
  • GUSA. "home." (Accessed 05/13/09)
  • MDOT. "Adopt a Highway Program." (Accessed 05/13/09)
  • Sierra Club. "home." (Accessed 05/13/09)
  • TNC. "home." (Accessed 05/13/09)
  • Willard Library. "Calendar of Events: Going Green and Willard Library/Summer Reading Program." (Accessed 05/13/09)
  • WVDEP. "WV Make It Shine Program." (Accessed 05/13/09)
  • WWF. "Home." (Accessed 05/13/09)