Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Making Sustainable Choices During Your Volunteering Experience

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Conscious living is a lifestyle. For those committed to sustainability, every decision involves thought about how they may impact the environment. For sustainably-minded people who volunteer, they may choose to contribute to ecological efforts or organizations following environmental stewardship principles. If you identify with this concept, making sustainable choices is essential, even if the cause you’re donating your time and skills to isn’t an ecological cause. Here are ways to make your volunteering experiences more green as well as make daily decisions that support your charitable efforts, the community at large, and the environment.

Making Sustainable Choices During and After Volunteering

There are ways you can help the environment through volunteering. Clean up days, recycling drives, planting trees, or even working at a local organic farm are some good ways.

Regardless of the type of charitable work you prefer to volunteer your time to, it’s important to carry on your principles after the day is over. What you do after you volunteer to improve the earth is just as important. If you’re passionate about reducing waste and are regularly signing up for clean up days, consider your personal contribution to landfills and how you can reduce your home’s amount of trash. You may also expand your existing recycling efforts by adding a compost bin at home, or you may decide to be more selective about what you buy and the amount of packaging it comes in.

Volunteering does your local community and the world a lot of good. But you can continue your good deeds after your charitable hours are done by making conscious choices about your lifestyle and how it contributes negatively or positively to the world.

The Importance of Your Transportation Decisions

One of the largest contributors to pollution and poor air quality is traffic. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, pollution consists of ozone, smoke, and airborne particles that can trigger respiratory problems such as asthma.

You can reduce your share of pollutants by choosing alternative methods to travel to and from your volunteering experience. If you don’t own an emission-free electric vehicle, consider riding your bike or taking public transportation. Connect with other volunteers to carpool to the location, or consider how you can volunteer remotely. You may be able to help your favorite cause by using a good internet connection and Skype video to donate your time and talents.

Reducing your carbon footprint by being more thoughtful about how much time you spend behind the wheel can reduce your contribution to your city’s poor air quality. Be strategic of how often you choose to drive somewhere and find creative alternatives to get around.

Purchases for the Greater Good

Another good way you can extend your charitable giving beyond your current volunteering time is by being thoughtful about what you buy. If you volunteer for earth organizations, making good environmental choices should be a habit. Take doing good one step further by looking for brands that give back. Buying green and supporting companies with charitable actions go hand in hand: they both increase the level of good you’re doing. Look for the following features when shopping for goods:

Packaging

What type of packaging are the items wrapped in? Even some larger green brands use unnecessary packaging that ends up in the waste bin. Avoid plastic bottles and containers as well as items excessively wrapped in plastic cling film. Bring along your own shopping bags and consider buying your most-used items in bulk.

If you’re not happy with your store’s packaging habits, don’t be afraid to speak up and let a manager know. The manager may consider your request, especially if several people complain about the same issue. As a last resort, switch to a brand that uses less packaging.

Go Natural

Reduce your reliance on chemicals and additives by finding natural alternatives to your everyday household goods. Start with your home cleaners. Most store-bought cleaners are loaded with artificial fragrances and chemicals that are harmful to your home’s air quality. You probably already buy organic foods and produce. Look for natural versions of other home products such as your cosmetics and home fragrances.

Brands That Give Back

If you need a new pair of shoes, why not buy them from someone who gives a portion of the proceeds from your sale to someone in need? Toms shoes is a good example. For every pair of shoes you buy, Toms used to donate a pair to someone in need of shoes. They’ve recently changed their business model to give a third of their profits to their global COVID-19 fund.

Other retailers that give back include eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker’s Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program that donates another pair of glasses to a person in need, and Honest’s Baby2Baby partnership, delivering diapers and baby essentials for low-income families with part of the proceeds from the baby goods you buy.

Doing Good Can Be Sustainable

Working with charitable organizations that are near and dear to your heart is good for the community and depending on the charity, the environment. Keep the momentum going by making conscious choices during and after you’re done volunteering. Reducing your waste and making eco-conscious decisions may reduce your need to volunteer for cleanup or recycling days. As a volunteer, you’re in a unique position to be more aware of your actions. Think about the items you buy, the choices you make, and their impact on your community and the environment.

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Key Sponsors

Integrated Family Community Services is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Financial Accountability

IFCS’ Tax ID # 84-0579740