With climate change making headlines almost daily, you might feel hopeless. Some might also feel more and more inclined to do something about it. Where do you start? What can you do? In this article, I will give you resources and tell you about my experience with sustainable volunteer work.
In the past few weeks, activists have made headlines regarding actions they’ve done. This article is not to judge those actions, yet show you there are a lot of different ways to be a volunteer or activist. You do not have to attend a protest to be an activist or passionate about the climate.
The few activists that you see in the news are not alone. For those actions, you need communication teams, legal teams, organizational teams and much more. Most protests and/or actions require teamwork and good planning.
Getting started with Volunteer work
I started doing volunteer work around sustainability last Spring. Over the last few months, I’ve connected with a lot of like-minded people and have seen the impact you can make as a team. For me, it was a perfect way to deal with some of the helplessness and eco-anxiety I felt. While being part of a sustainable non-profit/organization, you can make more meaningful changes.
You might want to evaluate what kind of voluntary work you want to do. You can ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I want to do work behind the scenes or in the spotlight?
- Is there a community/organization that aligns with my beliefs?
- How much time do I have to give?
- Can I do the work remotely or in-person?
- Are there local groups that need help?
- What are my qualities?
- How can an organization benefit from my qualities?
After narrowing down some of your preferences, you might figure out you do not have the time available to commit to voluntary work – that’s valid! My advice would be to look locally for voluntary work that’s either once a month or just one-time only.
If that’s no solution for you, I recommend signing petitions. Youth and/or sustainable organizations often need a lot of signatures for petitions to get the world to see their stance. Follow your favorite organizations on instagram and sign a petition when you see it!
The Carbon Almanac lists a lot of global organizations that need people here. For this article, I will be listing some organizations that are active in our country. I’ve listed the English vacancies/pages where possible.
- There are tons of vacancies on the English site of ‘NL voor elkaar’: look for activities that fit your interests here.
- De Vlinderstichting, Extinction Rebellion, Scientist Rebellion, Greenpeace, Natuurmonumenten and IVN Natuureducatie need many volunteers. Click on their names for more info.
- Inform yourself locally: some municipalities have a dedicated ‘vrijwilligerscentrale’ where they advertise organizations in your area that need help.
Youth organizations within the Netherlands:
- Milieudefensie Jong
- Jonge Klimaatbeweging and NJR often need work group members or poll members for their questionnaires.
- Our own organization, StudentenVoorMorgen, often has vacancies listed on their website.
- The partners of StudentenVoorMorgen often look for members within their organizations. Click here for the full list of members.
- Ask the Green Office at your university. They often need students, interns and much more.
Overall, there are numerous organizations that need help. Any help, big or small sustainable volunteer work can contribute to a nicer Earth for us all. In addition, you can surround yourself with more like-minded friends and even show your current friends how they can help.
Whereas your individual actions might feel redundant, you are participating in a bigger movement: any contribution is welcome.