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8 Eco Friendly Ways to Volunteer Your Time

volunteers at a gardening project

It's National Volunteers' Week, which takes place in June each year - a celebration of the incredible individuals who selflessly contribute their time and efforts to various causes. Volunteering not only benefits the community but also has a profound impact on individual well-being, fostering a sense of purpose, connection, and fulfilment. A national survey on volunteers' experiences found that over three-quarters of volunteers (77%) reported that volunteering improved their mental health and wellbeing. 9 in 10 said that they met new people through volunteering, and 77% of young people (18-24) said that volunteering made them feel less isolated.

There's an infinite number of ways to make a difference within your community and beyond - the Volunteers' Week website is a great place to start. In this blog post, we focus specifically on initiatives that are environmentally sustainable. Read on to explore eight eco-friendly ways to volunteer your time, to help create a healthier planet and a happier you!

Community Garden Initiatives: Join a local community garden project that focuses on sustainable agriculture and urban farming. Volunteers in communities across the UK come together to engage with horticulture – improving their local environment, tackling local issues, creating spaces that are a source of pride for people of all ages, promoting eco-friendly practices, and providing fresh, locally sourced produce to the community. You can contribute by planting, weeding, or even leading educational workshops on sustainable gardening practices. The Royal Horticultural Society has more information on how to link up with groups near you.

volunteers at a beach clean event

Beach Clean-ups: Participate in beach clean-ups organised by environmental groups or local communities... and if there isn't one near you, start your own! Coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to pollution, and your efforts can make a significant impact. Removing plastic and other debris not only beautifies the beach but also protects marine life and ecosystems. The Surfers Against Sewage site is a great resource with tips and advice, and links to regular beach cleaning events and campaigns around the country.

Tree Planting Events: Several organisations conduct tree-planting initiatives to combat deforestation and promote biodiversity. Spend a day planting trees in parks, urban areas, or designated reforestation sites. Trees play a crucial role in absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, making this a tangible way to contribute to environmental sustainability. Whatever your skills or background, the Woodland Trust are always looking for volunteers to help them protect the UK's woods and trees, and in this video, they share the many reasons why people love working with them:

E-Waste Recycling Drives: Organise or volunteer at an e-waste recycling event. Electronic waste is a growing environmental concern - a record 62 million tonnes (Mt) of e-waste was produced in 2022, up 82% from 2010 - and responsible disposal is essential. Help collect, sort, and recycle old electronics, ensuring that hazardous materials are disposed of properly while valuable resources are recovered for reuse. IT Recycling teach their volunteers to know the proper techniques for safely handling electronic devices, including computers, laptops, and mobile phones, as well as methods for identifying valuable components in IT equipment.

Upcycling Workshops: Offer your time to organise or participate in upcycling workshops near you. Share your DIY skills and teach others how to turn discarded items into useful and aesthetically pleasing products, or learn from other volunteers. Upcycling reduces waste and promotes a circular economy, encouraging people to think creatively about repurposing materials. Google events is a great place to start looking for initiatives like Sero in West Wales that is looking for volunteers to help restore and upcycle discarded furniture.

Cycling and recycling: Supporting the cycling infrastructure contributes to reducing carbon emissions and promoting healthier, eco-friendly modes of transportation. It's also a great way to meet people and stay active. There are many different ways to volunteer with Cycling UK including setting up a cycling group in your area and participating in their recycling workshops, linking in with a number of bike recycling projects, centres and social enterprises across the UK. With the help of mechanics, you can learn to repair bicycles and recycle parts to reduce waste.

Environmental Education Programs: Volunteer to educate others about environmental issues and sustainable living practices. Offer your expertise to schools, community centres, or local events. By raising awareness and promoting eco-friendly habits, you'll contribute to building a more environmentally conscious community. Many nature charities and organisations are looking for volunteers to undertake outreach work on their behalf and Environment Job is a ideal for honing in on these opportunities where you can find roles up and down the country at places like RSPB, wildlife trusts and country parks.

Wildlife Habitat Restoration: Participate in projects aimed at restoring natural habitats for local wildlife. This may involve removing invasive species, planting native vegetation, or creating nesting areas. Protecting and restoring habitats is essential for maintaining biodiversity and preserving ecosystems. The Wildlife Trusts is an organisation made up of 46 local Wildlife Trusts in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and Alderney. You can find out more about their wide range of exciting volunteering opportunities near you, here.

This National Volunteers' Week, it's the perfect time to consider dedicating your time to an eco-friendly initiative that can benefit both the community and the environment, as well boost your well-being, help you learn more skills and meet new friends. By choosing sustainable volunteering opportunities, you contribute to ensuring a greener and healthier future for generations to come.

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