Donating money to charities is something I think everybody who has the resources should do. For me personally, I live at least eco-neutral, meaning that I live within the boundaries of the planet. However, eco-neutral is only the base**. I want to live eco-positive. I want to actually contribute something to make this world a better place. You can do that in different ways. A relatively easy way is by donating money. But which charities actually contribute to a better world? In this post I want to elaborate on research I did to find out. Here are 7 charities to support nature.
Not everybody has the means to donate money, I get that. But I am writing this post from my privileged perspective. I was born in the Netherlands, into a wealthy family and have followed a theoretical education. For someone like me, it is not the question if I should donate. I should. The question is more about how much I should donate. I’ll come back to that later. So, first it’s important to recognize this privilege. I know this is not the case for everybody in the Netherland, but it is true for the majority.
If you don’t have this privilege there might be other ways to contribute. Living eco-neutral is possible for everybody, since it’s mostly about not doing something. Not getting on a plane for example, or not eating animal products, not buying new stuff, not driving a car, etc. This does not require money, it requires will. The poorest people in the world live eco-neutral.
Other Ways to Contribute
But let’s get back to the eco-positive aspect. If you don’t have the resource to donate, there’s more you can do. A great way to contribute is by using your time. Volunteering is a great example. Volunteering at an organization is one solution, the Food Bank or so, but you can also do it on your own. Trash picking is a great way to do something. You can also use your time to inspire others. Protesting in your own city is free. A cube of truth, a protest organized by Anonymous for the Voiceless, is a great example. And e-mail activism is usually something that only requires time.
Anyway, this post is for the people who do have the means do donate. I support multiple charities on multiple fields. That’s because there’s not just one problem in this world. And there sure is no such thing as one solution. That’s why I choose to donate on the basis of 3 categories. I choose to donate to charities for nature, people and animals. These are the three main categories.
Within these 3 categories I support multiple charities that do something within this one field. Today I am writing about one category, charities for nature. Next week I’ll tell you about the charities for people and the week after that I’ll talk about charities which do something for animals. With these 3 categories I try to spread my positive impact. Not only should we help people in some way, we should also help nature and the animals.
As I mentioned before, the question for most people in The Netherlands is: how much to donate? I would argue that it’s best to select a certain percentage of your income. At this moment I do not have an income since I’m still studying, so for me that’s hard to determine. When I have an income, I will determine the percentage. I would take my income after taxes, determine how much I need to live myself. Then I’d subtract a certain amount for saving and investing.
I’ll tell you more about my investing in other posts, since it’s not what you think. I only invest into things that either benefit all people, nature or animals. I have written one post so far about one example, which is ZonnepanelenDelen. There you invest in solar panels, speeding the energy transition and reducing climate change. Anyway, I would guess my donating percentage would end up at about 10% of my income and would increase over the years. I don’t know yet. I guess the most ethical thing I to donate everything that’s left after I have subtracted what amount I need to live. But I have to best brutally honest here, I don’t want to give up my own life to help other. I have dreams too. It’s not fair, but it’s honest.
Today is about the charities for nature. There are a ton of charities out there, so I had to make selection criteria for what I wanted. Setting up these criteria, I looked at the 9 planetary boundaries set up by scientists. These are the things threatening the planet. 1 is climate change. 2 is ocean acidification. 3 Ozone Depletion. 4 Atmospheric aerosol loading. 5 Biochemical flows (meaning nitrogen and phosphorus). 6. Freshwater use. 7 Land-use change. 8 Biodiversity loss. 9 Chemical pollution.
For these boundaries I thought about what are the main contributors within these categories. And also, on which I can have an influence. The following things are the things I think can be influenced by donations in my opinion: climate change (& ocean acidification, which is caused by climate change), biochemical flows, atmospheric aerosol loading, land-use change and biodiversity loss. In the end, I feel like there are three things we need to do to influence these things. I translated them into 3 goals:
1. Plant-Based Diets. If we’d all switched to a plant-based diet we could reduce climate change (& thereby ocean acidification), reduce biochemical flows, reduce land-use change (agriculture is the biggest contributor to this) and reduce biodiversity loss. *
2. Preserve Nature. We need large chunks of this planet to be preserved for nature in order to reduce climate change (& therefore ocean acidification) and biodiversity loss. Nature takes up carbon and enhances biodiversity.
3. Clean Energy. This way we could stop climate change, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss and a large chunk of the atmospheric aerosol loading.
On the base of these three practical goals I decided to go looking for charities which support these goals. For each practical goals I decided to support two charities. This led me to 7 charities which support nature which I personally donate to. But I do know more charities than 7, I listed the other ones too. Anyway, for the clean energy part I did not really found great charities, so there I actually invest instead of donating. I’ll tell you more in a bit. Here are the 6 charities for nature that I currently support.
I think most people will ultimately switch to a plant-based diet, since it’s the only ethical option. I choose to support Animal Rights and PETA because these are organizations which try to inform people on animal rights, which ultimate leads to a plant-based diet. They do so via lawsuits, protests, information stands, making undercover footage in Slaughterhouses and such, campaigns, etc.
Another great example is Virunga Park.
Right now, 14,6% of the globe is preserved. I am not a scientist, but I think something at about 50% is realistic and is something we should aim for. Even that is selfish, because we use half for only humans and half for all other species at that point. So it sounds like a lot, but it isn’t. Also, we currently use 50% of all habitable land for agriculture, of which 77% for animal agriculture). Finding charities to support this was a tough search since I only want to support organizations which preserve nature, simple as that.
Whenever I try to tackle a problem I see, I look at myself first. What can I do to make things better? And with these goals I do the same thing, but with my country. What can the Netherlands do to make things better? I first want to improve the Netherlands, because we have a lot to work on here. Only then I look outside of the Netherlands. This becomes apparent when preserving nature.
If I want 50% of the world to be preserved for nature, it’s unethical to say that in the Netherlands we preserve 10% of the country for nature, while in other countries they must preserve 90% or so. I think we in the Netherlands should then also preserve that 50%. I could only find one Dutch organization which does so, that’s why I supplemented the list with international organizations. Partij voor de Dieren/Mijn Natuur is unfortunately only an occasional donation, it’s not monthly or annually. That’s because they do crowdfunding only when a piece of land which is suitable to be converted to nature is being sold. But it’s a start in the Netherlands!
There are other organizations which are more famous, like WWF. But I feel like they waste most of the money on mock solutions. One example is plastic pollution. They don’t even recognize that fishing nets are the biggest contributor, instead they focus on disposable items. The real solution is to stop eating fish, but they don’t advocate that. The organizations I listed here buy up land and then preserve it, so they have only one very specific goal. In my opinion this is primarily what we need for nature to thrive. I searched for charities which actively show which part of the globe they have bought up and charities which are also actively trying to expand these areas. Once we have enough nature (which is not the case right now) only then it’s time to look at the smaller solutions like eco-tourism.
3 Clean Energy
I could not find any charities which help the energy transition by building solar parks, wind parks or anything alike. I would love to donate to a charity which donates solar panels to people in need so that they have access to clean and free energy. For now, I could only find options to invest. ZonnepanelenDelen builds solar parks in the Netherlands. The more I invest, the more solar panels get built and the more clean energy we have.
Lend A Hand is a little different. It supports people in other countries than the Netherlands. They have many projects but for this goal I only support the solar and wind energy projects. You then lend money so that someone on the planet can built solar panels on their house or a wind mill in their garden. It’s a double win since it’s usually poor people who do not have access to energy at all.
These were the 7 charities I donate to, to support nature. If all these charities get enough support, I think we help nature massively. If the ambitions they have come true, we’d have clean energy, plant-based agriculture and enough preserved nature for biodiversity to thrive. Globally. That’s why I think the charities I support are doing great work. In the next post I’ll tell you about which charities I support to help humans and after that which charities I support to help animals. However, the animals are partly represented in this post as well. Because once we help nature, we help biodiversity, and therefore we help wild animals (and the domesticated animals which we’d stop eating).
What do you think of these 7 charities to support nature? And do you support any of these 7 charities to support nature?
* I know am oversimplifying things, but I need to do that in order to go somewhere. The things I mention are the biggest problems we face right now in my opinion. I want to dedicate future posts to analyse the specific global problems and to show you why I think these solutions work.
**What I mean by this is that only donating to charities can never be enough. You have to live within the earth’s boundaries if you want to live an eco-positive lifestyle. If you eat meat and animal products, fly by plane, buy expensive new stuff, drive a fossil fueled car every day, etc. you must first change that. Donating to 7 charities or more which support nature is never a way to buy of your guilt. It’s something you must do, but you must also change your own behavior.