This Holiday Season Your Best Gift Can Be a Donation to a Nonprofit
If you care about the planet, you're probably thinking that the holidays are not a great time of year for the environment. There's more mail and package deliveries, homes and buildings are decorated with holiday lights, people travel more, and there's so much shopping as people buy presents for friends and family. So what's an environmentally conscious holiday-lover supposed to do?
The holidays are a great time of year to consider giving a different kind of gift: a donation to a nonprofit organization. Whether you make a personal donation on Giving Tuesday or you donate in a loved one's name instead of buying a present, you can still share the spirit of the holiday. To get your nonprofit gift-giving off to a great start, here the EcoWatch team recommends a few organizations we like and why these causes matter.
Jordan Davidson, Freelance Reporter
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust supports the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife habitats in East Africa. The Kenya-based organization safeguards the natural habitat of elephants and rhinos while protecting them from poaching. It rescues and rears orphaned elephants and rhinos. In fact, it operates the most successful elephant orphan rescue and rehabilitation center in the world.
Every year, my kids scroll through the orphans, watch a video about their rescue and pick one to foster. In return, we receive monthly updates on the animal's rehabilitation, including their diet, medical needs, how they socialize and the other elephants they have made friends with.
Olivia Rosane, Freelance Reporter
Indigenous Environmental Network
I first became aware of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) during the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but the nonprofit dates back to 1990 and has been working for almost 30 years to resist environmental injustice and build sustainable indigenous communities. Sometimes, everything that's wrong with the dominant culture's relationship to the Earth feels overwhelming. IEN tackles all of it, from deforestation to toxic waste dumping to fossil fuel extraction, and it does so while centering an indigenous worldview that offers a real alternative.
This holiday season, I am giving a gift to the future and donating to support their work. "By attempting to fulfill our responsibility to defend our mother earth we are assuring the survival of our unborn generations," their Unifying Principles read.
Jordan Simmons, Associate Editor
Amazon Aid Foundation
The Amazon Aid Foundation is empowering individuals, NGOS and governments to protect and revitalize the Amazon rainforest. In projects such as the RIVER OF GOLD documentary, they risk their lives to enter the grounds of illegal gold mining in Peru's Amazon rainforest to provide a disturbing account of how illegal mining causes an increase in deforestation and wildfires. The foundation provides information and resources such as the Buyer's Guide that can be used to not only become more conscious consumers, but to spread this message far and wide.
To express my gratitude for having more of an open mind and an understanding of my role as a consumer of gold, I have begun a monthly donation to the Amazon Aid Foundation. I look forward to the day I take this gift to Earth a step further by traveling to Madre de Dios region of southeastern Peru to join their reforestation project.
Chris McDermott, News Editor
Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge
The Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge in Orlando, Florida helps injured, orphaned and abandoned wildlife to recover. They describe their goal as "rescue, raise, rehabilitate and release" and they save thousands of animals a year. They have been especially busy after Florida storms that disrupt so many habitats.
I've supported this organization and have brought injured birds and squirrels to the refuge. The people who work there always inspire confidence that they'll give them the best care.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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