Environment and Climate Action Guide: Volunteering

How to find fun, meaningful activities that fit your schedule and constraints.

Deepti Kannapan

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Photo of the author, full Crocodile Dundee

Volunteering for environmental causes is a great way to spend an evening or weekend having an impact, with fun activities and maybe even the outdoors thrown into the mix!

Doing practical tasks with your hands where you can see the positive effects directly is uniquely confidence boosting. And the people you meet on these activities are a draw as well — caring types with plenty of unusual hobbies and great adventure-stories to relate.

Finding volunteer opportunities is surprisingly difficult, though. Searching the internet for ‘environmental volunteering’ or ‘volunteer for the climate’ doesn’t always pull up what you’re looking for or represent the full range of possibilities. You often have to try multiple search terms and sift through opportunities that vary widely in what activities they focus on, what skills they require, and their time commitment.

When I first got started, I poked around the internet and signed up for volunteer events here and there. Over time, I found more organizations through email lists, links from one organization to another, and introductions.

To make the process of getting started easier, I’ve put together a list of the types of volunteer activities and organizations to look for near you.

(If you’re in California like me, watch the resources page on my website! I’ll update this guide with specific examples of organizations for each category.)

The two main types of volunteering related to the environment are Advocacy and Nature.

Advocacy

If you think about environmental and climate action as improving the relationship between human society and (rest of) the natural world, advocacy is working on the human society side of the equation. This type of volunteering is all about spreading ideas and calling for change from governments, companies, and individuals.

Why it’s important: To decrease the impact of climate change and protect ecosystems, there are changes we need to make in all parts of society: using different materials, electrifying transportation…

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Deepti Kannapan

Painter, occasional cartoonist, aerospace engineer. Writes about sustainable technology, creativity, and journaling.