Happy Earth Day! Since 1970, this national holiday has inspired Americans to reflect on the impact that our businesses, governments at all levels, and even our everyday practices have on the planet. The day was first observed by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, who had long been concerned about the ravaging of the environment, after a devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He, along with faith groups and college campuses around the country, formed a bipartisan movement for climate justice that culminated on April 22—Earth Day!—which was chosen because it fell between Spring Break and college final exams, maximizing the potential for student participation. Since then, Earth Day has gone global and is observed in over 140 countries.
But there is still so much work to be done. Between the pollution of our oceans and waterways, the decrease in air quality due to carbon emissions, and the devastating impact of climate change in places like Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, it is more urgent now than ever before to practice sustainability in our daily lives and support the organizations making a difference.
Looking to support Mother Earth, but unsure of where to start? Keep scrolling to check out some of our favorite, legitimate groups to support—on Earth day and every day.
1. Daughters for Earth
Women around the world are disproportionately impacted by climate change, yet female-led climate action initiatives receive less than 2 percent of philanthropic funding. In response, Daughters for Earth, which is led by female leaders in the nonprofit, human rights, and climate action spaces, provides capital to women-led, science-backed sustainability initiatives around the world. You can donate to them.
Founded in 1971, Greenpeace is one of the most famous and influential climate justice NGOs of all time. Active in over 40 countries, the organization investigates the causes of climate change and exposes corporate and governmental destruction of the natural world. Some of their most well-known campaigns include one to protect the rapidly deteriorating Arctic, to develop a more effective Global Ocean Treaty, and a successful 2020 movement to halt the expansion of Sweden's largest oil refinery. Because of the latter, Greenpeace prevented one million tons of CO2 per year from infecting our atmosphere. You can donate now.
3. Clean Air Task Force
The Clean Air Task Force has long lobbied U.S. officials on the state and federal levels to reduce carbon emissions and coal production. They made major wins on this front during the Obama administration and continue to both campaign for a slowdown in climate-destroying emissions and research carbon neutral (and carbon negative) energy alternatives that are better for public health and the natural world. Consider donating to them.
4. The Ocean Cleanup
Did you know that 14 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year? Through The Ocean Cleanup, founder Boyan Slat, seeks to "mop the floor and turn off the tap" by using cutting-edge technology to tackle this monumental amount of waste. You can learn more about the organization's methods and donate to them.
5. Union of Concerned Scientists
The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded in 1969 by students and staff at MIT who were outraged by the American government's unsuitable response to the polluting of Ohio's Cuyahoga River. Since then, the organization has committed itself to increasing accountability among major fossil fuel companies, connecting with the scientific community to spread national awareness and change, preventing the use of nuclear weapons, and promoting clean energy. Their overarching goal is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which they've already made strides toward. In 2016, for instance, they played a huge role in changing fuel efficiency standards for large trucks. You can donate to their cause.
6. Climate Emergency Fund
Founded in 2019, The Climate Emergency Fund is committed to financially supporting climate change protest groups. Past grantees include nonviolent activist group Extinction Rebellion and Hunger Strikers for Climate Justice. So far, they have raised over $1.7 million dollars in addition to engaging and educating over 9 million individuals about climate justice. You can support them.
7. The Rainforest Foundation US
The Rainforest Foundation does groundbreaking work in Brazil, Panama, Peru, and Guyana, where they protect, support, and partner with indigenous peoples who live in rainforest communities. One of their most effective programs is the Rainforest Alert initiative, which is a community-led rainforest monitoring program that surveys forest land using remote sensory technology in order to prevent illegal deforestation. During just the first year of the Rainforest Alert program, the Amazon saw a 51 percent decrease in illicit deforestation.
What are you waiting for? Donate if you're able.
Noah Deich and Giana Amador founded Carbon180 in 2017 as a way of bringing together scientists, politicians, and business owners to collectively effect change. The group is the only D.C-based climate non-profit that is solely based on carbon removal, and it has already effectively advocated for a $70 million increase in federal funding for carbon removal research and action. You can learn more and donate on their website.
9. Earth Justice
Earth Justice is the leading environmental law organization in the United States, and is wholly devoted to protesting wildlife and fighting climate change. Employing over 170 lawyers, they've litigated hundreds of cases pro bono, including implementing safeguards for the Tongass (our country's largest rainforest), promoting clean and coal-free energy, and aiding the passage of a Southern California law requiring that oil refineries install pollution controls. Consider donating to them on their website.
10. Practical Action
Practical Action is both environment-focused and human-focused. They work with communities in underdeveloped countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America to find solutions to water and food insecurity, unsustainable agriculture, and the food poverty and drought caused by climate change. Their methods, which you can financially support by donating or fundraising, include installing solar water pumps, researching and implementing sustainable farming practices, and investing in renewable energy.
11. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
The NRDC works both nationally and internationally on a variety of fronts in order to make sweeping change in favor of climate justice. They perform scientific research in order to understand climate change and find ways to combat it; work with businesses so that the corporate world can become more green; engage in litigation to help pass laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act; and lobby Congress and local government to keep the environment in mind when making new policies rather than favoring notoriously polluting industries. You can donate to NRDC.
Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things fashion and beauty. She's also written about politics, gender, and sex for publications like Bustle, HuffPost Personal, and The New York Times. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.
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