Maybe your New Year’s resolution was to become more charitable in 2018. Maybe you more recently decided that it was simply time to do your part to make the world better. Maybe you’d like to give more, but you’re short on money.

Whatever your motivation, doing more to give back to the planet — and the humans and other creatures who inhabit it — is a worthy goal! Your desires are commendable, and the good news is, you don’t necessarily have to spend a dime to start making the world a happier, cleaner and more peaceful place for all to enjoy.

Eat Locally

Locavores popularized the idea of eating locally for years, primarily because the food you find from local farmers is often GMO-free and is far, far fresher than food shipped long distance to your nearby grocery store. But did you know eating locally can also help save the environment?

Think about it: importing produce and other food items from overseas or even just other states in the US costs an incredible amount in gas. Not only that, but the semi-trucks used to haul goods to your neighborhood grocer emit tons of harmful carbon monoxide emissions into the atmosphere. And rubber from discarded semi-truck tires often litters the grounds surrounding highways, which can put wildlife at risk. By eating locally, you help to reduce pollution significantly.

Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

If you’re the sort who prefers four-legged friends to the two-legged variety, why not volunteer as a pet foster parent, or maybe as a dog walker? Fostering pets helps avoid overcrowding in shelters which can tragically lead to euthanasia, so by opening your home to a foster animal, you may be saving your new furry friend’s life.

Depending on the animal shelter, your duties can vary widely! You may want to walk dogs, and some shelters even offer the chance for you to help teach basic obedience commands, such as sit and stay, to the animals. You may also want to just spend some playtime with the cats, bunnies and other animals inhabiting the shelter. The exposure alone helps these animals get used to different environments and people.

Join a Mission Trip

If you love to travel and do good at the same time, why not sign up for a mission trip in lieu of your annual vacation? At the moment, many areas in the Caribbean, such as Puerto Rico and Haiti, are especially in need of aid due to the recent devastation wrought by this season’s vicious hurricanes.

Volunteers that visit these places help clean up the environments there, deliver fresh water to citizens and get down and dirty building necessary structures and housing. You may not be spoiled with all the amenities of a traditional island getaway, but you will reap the rewards that come with doing good for others in need.

Join a Neighborhood or Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup Crew

If you’re looking for ways to give back that also help you make new friends in your community, consider joining a local beautification or Adopt-A-Hiighway clean up crew. Crews generally meet anywhere from once a week to once per month. To find such an organization in your area, check with your local chamber of commerce or with your city clerk’s office. As members of the crew follow the buddy system when out on their clean up missions and are out for an hour or more, it’s a great opportunity to do good and meet a new bestie in the process!

If your New Year’s resolutions revolve around getting into the gym and eating healthier, that’s great! However, it’s so rewarding and important to keep others in mind when you think about the positive changes you want to make this year. And given that these resolutions revolve around eating fresh, local food and giving back to your world by getting your feet on the ground and getting active, you may even be able to knock out your personal goals in the process too!

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