Being eco-conscious can be stressful. Once you’re aware of how all of our smallest decisions can effect the climate, you start to stress over what should be mundane things. What should we eat, how should we get to work, should we buy a reusable straw, what candidate should we vote for, etc. (Just kidding, voting is totally not mundane.)
How you give your time and money can also be confusing. Personally, we think it’s important to include an environmentally focused nonprofit in our giving portfolio, so then it’s just a matter of choosing. There are a number of Austin-based nonprofits fighting on different fronts. Consider taking extra steps to support those organizations building a better environment and advocating for better local policies.
Contribute to a healthier environment
TreeFolks operates by the simple tenet that having more trees in an urban setting is better for people and the environment. You can learn about trees, help plant trees, donate to help reforest areas hit by tree-devastating disasters and more. This organization even provides free trees to Austin Energy customers. Just call them!
Sustainable Food Center can help you learn to grow your own food with its classes, community garden trainings and free materials, all using sustainable gardening practices. Take a class to start your own garden or sign up to help teach a class or contribute to someone else’s garden.
Hill Country Conservancy works with local land owners to help them conserve their land and protect it from development. Right now, the call from developers is very strong in Central Texas. But Hill Country Conservancy helps them work through land protection deals that don’t just benefit them, but also benefit our local ecosystem that relies on untouched land. You can help by donating or becoming a member of its young professionals group, EPIC, or its Violet Crown Trail group. Members have access to educational and volunteer events.
Advocate for a healthier environment
Texas Campaign for the Environment says it helped launch Austin’s zero-waste initiative and helped create the curbside organics pilot project, which currently offers a third bin for compostable waste to 14,000 Austin households. You can sign up for its newsletters to stay up to date with local environmental news, take action by using their talking point to write letters to your representatives and donate to is sister organization, TCE Fund.
Clean Water Action operates in many states, but in Texas they are currently campaigning for the Edwards Aquifer, trees and Onion Creek. The site helps you take action by communicating with your representatives and volunteer by helping at events, conducting research, lobbying elected officials and more.
Sierra Club , a grassroots organization, is always looking for volunteers who can help organize events, man information tables, lobby elected officials and otherwise make a fuss about environmental and social justice. Check out the Sierra Club’s Lone Star chapter for news, events and upcoming opportunities.
Environment Texas is a citizen-based environmental advocacy project of Environment America. It researches environmental issues facing the state and educates the public about these challenges by reaching out to the media and to community groups. It’s a great resource for understanding environmental issues and how national and local policies are or are not addressing them. Members support Environment Texas financially and through volunteering.
Roll up your sleeves and volunteer
There are opportunities year round to pitch in and get your hands dirty. We’re thinking you and your team help support a working/teaching farm at Urban Roots, sign up to clean up a park with Austin Parks Foundation, or take the kids on a clean-up adventure through Generation Serve. You might also inquire about helping the newly formed Earth Day Austin nonprofit, which puts on the annual Earth Day event for the city in April. Our advice is to not overthink it. Sign up for the Austin EcoNetwork newsletter or browse their site, start tracking the types and pace of events, and jump in! It’s going to take all of us making small efforts to solve this.