As travelers, we love nature, the two go hand-in-hand. If you have the kind of adventurous spirit that drives you to roam the world, you probably also love the thrill of untamed wilderness. Sadly, over-tourism, reckless tourism, and wasteful tourism is destroying once-beautiful places.
If you’re like me, this makes you angry. I’m always on the look out for ways to give back and help. Below are some amazing environmental nonprofits where you can get involved, have and adventure, and make a difference for the better!
By Keith David Langston
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY
The Nature Conservancy is an American-based global non-profit working to protect “lands and waters on which all life depends.” The Conservancy is a mixed group of scientists, activists, environmentalists, and concerned citizens. Together, they do everything from advocating for environmental protection, combating climate change, and even scientific research, of which they release detailed and well-respected reports on the environment. The studies conducted by the Conservancy tackle tons of issues, like green energy, sustainable aquaculture, clean water, and more.
Even better, they hold many events throughout the year in states all over America! Partake in a volunteer excursion or educational seminar, or use their phenomenal carbon calculator (where you can see how big your environmental impact is), and they even have a page of easy to sign petitions to send to congress and your state officials. Getting involved is easy and goes towards a great cause!
Reef Check is a nonprofit dedicated to keeping our oceans healthy, namely through protecting the delicate (and extremely important) coral reefs. They use teams of scientists and volunteers to collect information on the status of reefs in their area.
The coolest part – you can be part of the team! Reef Check offers 2 classes. The first is for beginner snorkelers and divers. which gets you acquainted with the organization, reefs, and what to look out for. The other course is offered to snorkelers and divers with experience. This multi-day course gets you to certified to work alongside the organization to gather data on reef health! Programs are offered in California, as well as around the world!
The next time you head for the ocean, wouldn’t it be cool to say that you’re going to monitor the reefs? Now that’s travel with a purpose!
Founded in 1892 by John Muir, the Sierra Club is one of America’s oldest and most successful environmental group to-date. Between John Muir and the Sierra Club, such victories have included the creation of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Kings Canyon, as well as enlarging Sequoia National Park.
In modern times, the club has taken on a plethora of important issues, going far beyond just preserving land. The Sierra Club has fought for climate and green energy, animal protection, and even human rights!
Most important, the Sierra Club is still a club. Part of the mission is to bring people together and encourage them to have their own outdoor adventures, believing that the more people experience nature, the more they feel a part of it and will fight to protect it. The Serra Club offers tons of excursions every year. Adventures range from things like touring Yosemite or British Columbia, to volunteer trips where you can build houses in Alaska or maintain trails in the Great Lakes, there’s also local gatherings in your area. They even have an LGBT travel section with an upcoming volunteer trip to Lake Tahoe!
NATIONAL PARK CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION
The NPCA is a group dedicated to protecting our National Parks to keep them healthy for generations to come. The fight to protect the National Parks naturally led the group to fight for all the issues affecting the Park system, such as climate change, air pollution, animal protection, and clean water, while also remaining committed to increasing visitor experience at the parks and teaching the history and cultures of each area.
The NPCA also offers clean-up events and group trips through America’s various National Parks. Some upcoming trips include hiking and stargazing at Big Bend in Texas, an Alaska glacier cruise, and more. There’s even a section where you can share your National Park story, and read that of fellow travelers.
Surfrider is a nonprofit dedicated to oceans, coasts, and beaches. They focus on 5 main points: Keeping beaches accessible to everyone, clean water, ocean protection, coastal preservation, and removing plastics.
To accomplish these goals they hold numerous beach clean ups all over the country that you can take part in. They also hold a variety of unique events like a massive surf outing, their swanky One Ocean Events, complete with cocktails, live music, and gourmet appetizers, as well as World Oceans Day, where 27 coastal clean-ups will be happening simultaneously. Beach clean-ups not your thing? How about buying some sweet swag? 100% of the profits goes towards clean-up efforts! If you love the beach and the ocean, this is an organization you’ll definitely want to get involved with.
Be sure to make your next trip to nature a meaningful one. And even if you don’t take part in one of these organized events, doing something simple like picking up a bottle and recycling while on a trail makes a huge difference. Happy travels everyone!