Tip #389: Extend Your Green Reach Beyond Home and Work- Volunteer!
"Look for volunteer opportunities at local nature conservatories, animal shelters, or local or even national environmental agencies. You'll feel great about what you're doing and you'll be helping out a good cause- whichever one you choose."
An issue I ran into with volunteering and living on a minimal income was that I could not afford to pay the fees some places required for my training. When living on a tight budget every dollar counts. A particular shelter my daughter and I wanted to volunteer at requested $40 for training. That is almost a trip to the grocery store for me, and with food prices rising, and I am doing everything to stay organic, I simply could not extend myself for this type of volunteering.
Other volunteering I wanted to do, such as trail restoration and gardening required adequate transportation that I do not have, living without a car.
In these ways we can become caught between "designer volunteering," that is, volunteering at a preferred space instead of showing up wherever is most needed, and "greening" other parts of our life. I had to let the car go because of my financial situation plus it ended up being a contribution to the environment.
When becoming a minimalist, its important to evaluate your situation and needs so that you can not waste your time at places that don't really interest you, as well as fit your financial situation and other circumstances. So, to me, living without a car has come at great sacrifice, but has also taught me to be more understanding of others without cars that we see walking around with shopping carts and lining up at shelters, food banks, and thrift stores.
It even caught my attention the other day that its sad people with a lot more money have access to thrift stores and can buy up all the good items. I think it would be okay to leave the good stuff for the less advantaged people.
In these ways you can start volunteering if you cannot find an organization that fits your needs. Start in your own life. Be more understanding of others and volunteer your compassion more often. Perhaps leave the thrift stores to the poor and needy. Donate your clothing items to homeless shelters instead of Goodwill corporations that dominate the dollars from the local thrift stores that are really trying to help their community. Start teaching others what you learn. Share what you have more with others. The fulfillment from giving is endless.
I live at or below poverty level and gave up a Christmas gift last year and requested the couple donate to a homeless shelter. Wealth is relative and American's are living the most convenient, cushioned, lifestyle in the world. We are also the highest consumers and polluters comparing our population to other countries.
We are all fighting for our country, so start lending an ear, a hand, some love, and a heart to those around you and in your community. Even if no one knows, it still counts as volunteering.