Start or Join a Composting ProgramDon’t let food scraps and yard waste go to the landfill — get involved in composting! This eco-friendly alternative to tossing it all in the trash produces a rich soil amendment. Use it in your own garden, or donate it to the local community garden! Call around to see if there’s a program in your area, or get ambitious and start your own! Depending on the local ordinances in your area, you may need a permit to start your own composting program. With enough planning though, you can address a need in your community, and reduce dependence on trucked-in compost products with a much larger carbon footprint.
Get Involved With Your Community GardenThis time of year is BUSY for local community gardens. Find out if there’s one in your area, and ask where they need resources the most. In lieu of preparations for plantings, this may involve contributing supplies, labor, and time. Find the opportunity that works best for your schedule. If you have a truck or trailer, offering to haul supplies can be an enormous help on its own! Many hands make light work. If you can find the time on the weekend, get in the dirt and get out in your community.
Offer Recycling Drop-Off to Your NeighborsRecycling for most people is a balance between convenience and care of the earth. If there’s no pickup program available in the area, many of your friends and neighbors may have opted out simply due to lack of time or resources to haul their own. If you have a truck or trailer, offer to take a few of your neighbors' recycling in. Chances are, others with the time and vehicles necessary to do the job will step up to help!
Host a WorkshopFun fact: Most people know more than they give themselves credit for. Ask yourself what you know a lot about that could help others in your town. Maybe you’re a Master Gardener, or maybe you have a way with demanding kids, or maybe you just make a really mean tomato soup. Host a free workshop in your area to provide learning opportunities that better people and your community, and inspire others to do the same! You don’t have to be a professional or hold a degree to have knowledge to share, so figure out what you can offer, and create learning opportunities to connect and inspire others.
Coordinate Monthly Litter Pickup DaysTrash piling up in your community? Get into the routine of cleaning it up as the days grow milder. Coordinate regular events in your community to get people involved in picking up the waste on a regular basis. Be sure to obtain any necessary permits in your area. If in an area with street traffic, have participants wear fluorescent and reflective clothing.
Start a Natural Gardening BusinessSometimes giving back means getting a little back too! Use what you know about sustainable gardening to create natural solutions that really work, and then offer those services to your community! Many inspired individuals are getting creative, using goats to clear brush from land, or even selling ladybugs as a means to end aphid infestations! Figure out where the problems bringing pesticides and unsustainable gardening practices into your neighborhood are, and then create solutions you can use to start your own business with!
Barter with Backyard GardenersDue to regulations, many backyard farmers aren’t allowed to sell produce for money unless they undergo a certification process. If you’d like to encourage them to keep at it, offer them a free a hand in their garden, or some fresh compost from your yard — they might just decide to say thank you with a basket of produce!
Host Free Events for KidsAs things warm up, many families can’t afford to send their kids to fun camps or on family vacations. Give those kids a chance to experience something new, without the expense for the parents, by hosting a free event or workshop in your area. Collaborate with others to put together a program that’s fun and unique, and talk to local business owners and other parents about ways they can pitch in to fund supplies. Maybe it’s a day-long hiking tour of some local nature trails, or maybe it’s a family fun day in the park — whatever it is, make it all about giving those who can’t get away a fun spring break escape.
Get Involved with Your Local Land TrustLand trusts are publicly funded organizations that protect and preserve land from commercial development. With thousands of them in operation nationwide, chances are, there’s one in your area doing some amazing work. Find a land trust in your area, and reach out to them to see where you can help, whether it’s by donating or volunteering.
Support Your Local Animal ShelterSpring can be a notoriously difficult time for animal shelters. With too many puppies and kittens and not enough homes, advocacy, volunteers, and donations become more important than ever. If you’re not able to provide a home for an animal, offer what you can, whether that’s a few hours of your time, or spreading the word about adoption events in your area — social media is a powerful thing.
What are you doing this spring to give back to your community? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!