This Spring and Summer, consider a break or trip that allow you to do good, give back the the community, or protect the Planet in some way! You’ve already chosen natural menstrual care products that are better for the environment, so why not vacation with the planet in mind? Here are four fabulous Eco-Friendly trip ideas for those who want to change the world for the better —
1. Nurse Wild Animals Back to Health in Costa Rica
Head down to Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica, home to white sand beaches, rainforests, national parks, three-toed sloths, and the endangered white-faced capuchin monkeys. While you’re there, make sure to visit Kids Saving the Rainforest, an NGO created by a 9 year old and her mother, to battle the effects of deforestation and tourism on endangered wildlife. While there, you’ll learn about how human interaction with wildlife can alter animal behavior, putting them more at risk for injury, capture, or death. The center has a veterinary clinic, a sanctuary where rescued animals can be rehabilitated in their natural environments with other creatures of the same species, and a bridge program allowing animals to traverse human towns and continue on their migration routes without interruption and danger. Volunteers can choose to stay for a day or up to a month and get involved in all aspects of the work, except for cuddling sloths!
The organization has played a pivotal role in sustaining endangered populations, identifying threats and solutions to wildlife populations, and works with several organizations and the government to protect the country’s biodiversity, six percent of the world’s biodiversity although it only covers 0.03% of the Earth’s surface! Find out more at the link below —
2. Build Homes with Habitat for Humanity in Puerto Rico
Four months after Hurricane Maria and 40% of Puerto Rico is still living without electricity; what is left of homes are covered with plastic tarps to keep some of the rain and strong sun out. Due to an inadequate relief package and decades of unfair economic policies and brain drain, the island faces monumental difficulties in attempts to reclaim normalcy. Head down there this March and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, to help build homes and provide basic shelter for families in need. As in most disaster scenarios, most of funding gets eaten up for immediate response, leaving little left for long-term recovery. This is where your sweat equity and manual labor has its greatest value — you’re directly contributing to sustainable living and literally rebuilding a community from the ground up. Habitat for Humanity has distributed thousands of Shelter Repair Kits to families around the island as well to give each hurricane ‘victim’ more agency, and the ability to reconstruct and salvage their own homes. They also have a Women Build program that encourages females to volunteer for a more educational program, regardless of prior experience, that will teach you about construction and give you handy skills to later apply at home or in a career!
3. Save Sea Turtles through Litter Removal on Florida’s Beaches
Head to Florida this March; home to over a thousands miles of coastline, several of the state’s counties have beaches where up to five species of sea turtles nest! The southeastern United States hosts the world’s largest nesting aggregation of the loggerhead turtle and Florida’s green turtle nesting aggregation is the second largest in the Western Atlantic Hemisphere.
Sea turtles face threats from: artificial lighting along the coast that calls them towards land instead of the water after birth, trash and tar along the beach, even beach furniture and bulwarks create insurmountable obstacles for babies. The increasing development of beachfront properties and tourism to beach sites are also catalyzing the effects of human populations on sea turtle populations. While in Florida, you can help cleanup sea turtle nesting sites and contribute to ongoing research studies about current populations; if you’re there for a longer period of time, consider becoming a Sea Turtle Lighting Project Specialist — you’ll be implementing sea turtle lighting retrofits, running educational workshops, and working on dune plantings so that baby turtles have an unobstructed path to the ocean. Visit the links below to learn more about Sea Turtle Conservancy, a nearly 60 year old non-profit working to protect endangered sea turtles and the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission’s site for more information on the turtles and protection opportunities.
4. Head to California for Tree Planting
The combination of low precipitation and record-high temperatures during California’s most recent drought (2012–16) resulted in dramatically increased tree mortality and large, severe wildfires. The record-breaking season of 2017 burned more than 1.3 million acres – an area the size of Delaware. Now, a record 129 million trees need to be restored in California to address climate change and restore balance. In just one year, one leafy tree produces enough oxygen for ten people to breathe!
Unfortunately, now almost half the budget of the Forest Service goes to fighting wildfires, making individual donations and planting efforts more important than ever. There are several organizations to volunteer with or donate to, but $1 to OneTreePlanted means one tree planted in the region of your choice and $1 to The Canopy Project, run by The Earth Network, means one tree planted in the most critically endangered areas – the Amazon and Boreal Rainforests. Their goal for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020 is to plant 7.8 billion trees, one for every person on earth. In fact, $1 donated towards reforestation generates $2.50 in local downstream income and benefits, supporting local economies and having a larger resounding impact beyond just the natural world. If you want to get down and dirty, join a local group to go dig holes and plant seeds. You can become a Tree Ambassador in your local community and encourage local scout programs or schools to start their own initiatives as well.
Wherever you go, or even if you stay home, there are always ways to give back or spread awareness about the environmental issues at hand. Whether it’s using organic tampons or taking sustainable vacations, your choices will make all the difference!