So, I’m kind of a lazy person. I work hard but I have a hard time doing “charitable work” unless it somehow benefits me. Before you think to yourself that I must be a bad person, consider that I’m not alone in my laziness. Many people have a hard time going out of their way to contribute to a cause unless they personally benefit (see the list below), they can see an immediate favorable result (see people bringing food or labor to homeless shelters), or they are peer pressured (see the Ice Bucket Challenge). Personally, I’m of the belief that anything that gets people to help others is a good thing, and contributing to a cause for the wrong reasons is still contributing to a cause. Below, I’ll give you several examples of how to help the world while still helping yourself.
1. Free Rice
How it helps the world: Free Rice is a website where you play games that test your knowledge (for all ages and skill levels), and for each answer you get right, ten grains of rice are donated to hungry people. The more answers you get right, the more rice is donated.
How it helps you: Free Rice has multiple subjects and subject levels. Some people use Free Rice to sharpen their minds, learn new things, or even work on test prep! If you’re in college looking to practice vocabulary for your GRE, that’s something you can do on Free Rice! So if you were going to study your vocabulary, world capitals, or practice your Italian language skills for that trip to Rome anyway, you might as well do it in a way that helps others as well.
How it helps the world: Charity Miles is an app for Andriod and iPhone that distances that you walk, run, or bike, and donates money to the charity of your choosing based on the distance that you cover.
How it helps you: If you’re a college student, chances are you’re walking or biking to class anyway, so you can literally help a charity of your choice by just doing what you were going to do already. If you aren’t a college student, you likely know the benefits of walking, running, or biking and people have probably already implored you to walk more and drive less for the environment, and now you can do that while actually donating money to an environmental cause.
How it helps the world: The Elephant Pants is a clothing company that makes pants (do you get it?? Elephant PANTS), shirts, dresses, watches, etc. that usually have some sort of fun elephant pattern. Each time a purchase is made, 10% of the net profits go to the African Wildlife Foundation, to, you guessed it, save elephants.
How it helps you: The clothing sold by The Elephant pants is not only cute and stylish, but also comfortable and true to size. Everyone likes to look and feel good in their clothes! Pants in the photo can be found here.
4. Donate your clothes
How it helps the world: Donating old clothes that you are no longer interested in, that don’t fit, or that you bought on impulse can really make someone who doesn’t have the money a much happier person. You can donate to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Nationwide, domestic violence shelthers, hospice, etc.
How it helps you: Not only can you get a charitable donation written off on your taxes, but you can also clear out your closet for spring cleaning, a wardrobe makeover, or because you’ve lost or gained weight. Cleaning out our closets often make us feel good about ourselves, so why not help someone out instead of throwing those clothes away?
5. Change the way you eat
How it helps the world: Do you care about the environment? Animals? Deforestation? The primary reason for the destruction of the Amazon rainforest is to make room for animal agriculture. Cutting down on an animal based diet not only will help the animals (because you aren’t eating them) but also lowers the amount of money you’re giving to animal agribusiness. If enough people did this, the expensive and dangerous clearing of land for animal agriculture would decrease, creating a domino effect for the environment.
How it helps you: I’m not asking you to go vegan or vegetarian. I’m asking that you remove some of the animal products you’re consuming on a daily basis. If you adopt more of a whole food, plant-based diet, you lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, and even cancer. Don’t believe me? Check out The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health. Sounds like the “most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted” might carry some weight. Removing animal products from my diet has made me look and feel ten times better, and knowing that I’m helping the animals and the environment? Priceless.