Humans and wildlife need healthy forests to survive, and anyone who’s spent time in them knows how wonderful they can make us feel. Camping in the woods as a child instilled an awe for nature in me that I have never lost. And because of this, I know all-too-well how easy it is to feel overwhelmed by the rate at which we our losing the world’s forests. From clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching, and urban development, we have already lost nearly half of the Earth's original forest cover. Seeing trees cut down, in a once-wooded-area where I am from in Tennessee, making way for some fast-food restaurant, strip-mall, or parking lot, brings tears to my eyes on the regular. Is there no way around this feeling of despair and hopelessness for our forests, and our planet as a whole? Well, by visiting one, small FSC-certified tree farm in Arkansas, my hope for the future was fueled in a much-needed way.Read More
As an animal lover and environmentalist, I cannot think of a more pressing time to give back to charities fighting to preserve the natural world. According to the WWF’s 2016 Living Planet Report, “Populations of vertebrate animals—such as mammals, birds, and fish—have declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. We’re seeing the largest drop in freshwater species too: on average, there’s been a whopping 81% decline in that time period.” The mass extinction occurring on Earth cannot be reversed with more climate change denial and corporate lobbying in the White House.
From plastics pollution, palm oil farming causing rainforest habitat destruction, mass overfishing, species extinction, methane and water pollution from industrial cattle production, the clear cutting of forests, and coral bleaching due to warming seas, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Donating to charities fighting against big oil, wall street, and other corporate interests is an easy and positive step in the right direction.
Organizations standing up for nature need our help, now more than ever, if we are to keep the planet's continued destruction at bay. I have listed the top environmental charities to give to now. All of the charities listed below have proven track records in environmental protection, conservation, and habitat restoration. Each is also transparent with their research expenses and funding, and spends 80% or more of the charity’s total expenses on the programs and services it delivers. Donations made to any one of these organizations can help ensure that the wildlife and ecosystems of planet Earth are protected for us and the future generations to come.
"350 is building a global grassroots climate movement that can hold our leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of justice."
"Climate change isn’t a distant, abstract problem — it’s here, today. People all over the world are feeling the impacts, from island nations that are going underwater, to indigenous land being exploited for fossil fuel extraction. The fight against climate change is a fight for justice. That means listening to the communities who are getting hit the hardest, and following the leadership of those who are on the frontlines of the crisis."
Visit 350.org to find out more information and about how you can get involved.
Center for Biological Diversity
“At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive. We want those who come after us to inherit a world where the wild is still alive."
Visit The Center for Biological Diversity to learn more or check out the video below.
On a global level, Conservation International is doing great work to protect our planet. “Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, they empower societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of humanity.”
“For more than 25 years, Conservation International has been protecting nature for the benefit of everyone on Earth. Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature. Our food, our water, our health, our jobs — they all rely on the health of the planet’s ecosystems. Conservation International works at every level, from remote villages to the offices of presidents and CEOs, to find these solutions. Our work is moving entire societies toward a healthier, more sustainable development path — so that we don’t use up today what we’re going to need tomorrow.”
Visit Conservation.org for more info or check out the video below.
"Earthjustice is a public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities. Earthjustice uses federal and state environmental laws to protect the environment by taking government agencies to court for failing to enforce our nation's environmental laws, and corporations for breaking them. Earthjustice does this work on behalf of hundreds of community and environmental groups, providing legal services free of charge. True and lasting change happens when the power of the law is on your side. That is why the earth needs a good lawyer."
Visit Earthjustice for more information or check out the video below, featuring the true story of a town who "discovered strength in unity and turned the tables on the powerful oil & gas industry."
"Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future."
"A group of thoughtful, committed citizens came together in 1971 to create Greenpeace. That was more than 30 years ago, and in that time, Greenpeace has indeed changed the world. And we continue to make the world a better place. Our committed activists and supporters have come together to ban commercial whaling, convince the world’s leaders to stop nuclear testing, protect Antarctica, and so much more."
Visit Greenpeace for more information on how they are are protecting the environment, and how you can support their cause.
Natural Resource Defense Council
"NRDC works to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We combine the power of more than two million members and online activists with the expertise of some 500 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild. NRDC was founded in 1970 by a group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement. Today's leadership team and board of trustees makes sure the organization continues to work to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities."
"Oceana was established in 2001 to fill the gap of missing resources spent by environmental nonprofit groups in the United States going towards ocean advocacy. Oceana is an international organization focused solely on oceans, dedicated to achieving measurable change by conducting specific, science-based campaigns with fixed deadlines and articulated goals. Since its founding, Oceana has won more than 100 victories and protected more than one million square miles of ocean. Find out more about how Oceana is helping to save the oceans victory by victory here."
Visit Oceana to find out more information, and watch the video below.
Rainforest Action Network
"Rainforest Action Network campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing and non-violent direct action. RAN envisions a world where each generation sustains increasingly healthy forests, where the rights of all communities are respected, and where corporate profits never come at the expense of people or the planet."
"We are committed to doing what is necessary, not only what is considered politically feasible, to preserve rainforests, protect the climate, and uphold human rights. We are committed to working with Indigenous communities and frontline communities directly impacted by profit-driven systems of injustice. We support the leadership of these communities in working on strategic and effective solutions to protect people and the planet. We honor the intrinsic value of biodiversity and wildness. We recognize our interdependence with healthy natural systems and seek to maintain the integrity, richness and abundance of life in all its forms. We support Traditional and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, including the right to sovereignty, self-determination, reparations and the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) regarding decisions implicating customary rights on traditional lands. We believe creativity, integrity and people power drive the success in our campaigns and in our organization; while compassion, irreverence, and a celebration of life’s possibilities drive the commitment to our mission."
Visit Rainforest Action Network to find out more and to donate to their cause. Also watch the video below to see their work fighting against the devastation of the Palm Oil Industry.
"WildAid’s mission is to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes. We envision a world where people no longer buy wildlife products such as shark fin, elephant ivory and rhino horn."
"While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products by persuading consumers and strengthening enforcement. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and global network of media partners, WildAid leverages nearly $200 million in annual pro-bono media support. Our message reaches up to 1 billion people every week. WildAid's strategy for achieving this goal is to reduce demand for these products using our slogan: "When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too."
Visit the WILDAID website to learn more and watch the video below to see what their work looks like.
Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature. Our food, our water, our health, our jobs — they all rely on the health of the planet’s ecosystems. But we’re taking more from nature than nature can give. We can end this crisis. But we need big ideas and even bigger solutions. -conservation.org
No matter who you decide to give to, giving back benefits us all. I encourage you all to find an organization that aligns with your ideals, and give back in any way you can. Visit CharityNavigator.org to find out more information and determine which charities are best for you.