We all want to save the bees—and the thousands of other species of plucky pollinators that feed us. But the crisis facing pollinators is, sadly, only one issue among many facing our planet today.
Many of us tend to compartmentalize, or hyperfocus on one issue we feel capable of making a difference in—and that’s great! We should find those issues that we’re passionate about and get started making change right away.
But we have to remember: there’s no point in saving the bees if they don’t have a planet to pollinate. And we are capable of saving both. Use this list as a jumping-off point to explore some of the most amazing organizations working for a better tomorrow.
Earth Guardians understands that the earth, or what's left of it, will be left to young people. They trains youths around the world to become leaders in the fight for climate justice.
Originally formed in Hawaii in 1992, youths working with Earth Guardians have engaged in direct political advocacy on various topics from sustainable agriculture to waste reduction. In addition to leadership seminars, Earth Guardians engage in strikes, protests, and rallies. They have intergenerational, youth-led groups in over sixty countries and welcome the involvement of community members.
Most of us are familiar with fast fashion, even if we aren’t familiar with the term—cheap, trendy clothes produced in mass quantities (think H&M, Old Navy, Urban Outfitters). But did you know that fast fashion has an enormous impact on the environment? Fashion Revolution is working to change the fashion industry for the better, addressing everything from working conditions to resource conservation to wastefulness.
Most of their active goals focus on education and awareness, but they also strive to encourage greater governmental oversight and pressuring the tastemakers of the fashion industry as a whole to become more conscious and ethical.
Native American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems
If you’ve read our other posts on the importance of pollinators, you already know why protecting native plants is good for the environment. In the early 2000s the word “locavore” was coined to describe a person who eats primarily foods produced locally to them, in the midst of a wave of enthusiasm for reducing the carbon footprint our diets create—which is wonderful, but only part of the solution. Modern agriculture is often destructive to the environment, even when emissions are saved by transporting the food itself only a short distance. Science has proven that we already have the answers—or, at least, our indigenous communities do.
Their traditional wisdom from hundreds or thousands of years of living in balance with their local environment informs foodways that are environmentally friendly—and, often, more nutrient-dense than many standard diets. NATIFS is drawing on that work and helping foster that knowledge in the United States.
Many millennials got their introduction to environmental awareness in childhood—and in those days, it was all about saving the rainforest. Although that goal was far from reached, there’s an argument to be made that this particular era of action essentially birthed the modern conservation movement.
One of the organizations that began during that time is still active, and one you’re probably familiar with if you pay more than glancing attention to the paper towels you buy: Rainforest Alliance. In fact, Rainforest Alliance’s certification programs go beyond paper products to coffee, flowers, produce, soap, etc. Beyond certification and advocacy efforts, Rainforest Alliance also provides training in supply chain management and landscape management globally.
Late 20th century conservation efforts weren’t limited to the rainforest; everyone got an earful about “greenhouse gases,” particularly those linked to fossil fuels (e.g., coal and natural gas). Renewable energy has been around for some time—actually, renewable energy is the oldest form of energy used by humans (think fire or steam)—but some forms, like solar, haven’t become affordable or widespread until the last few decades. Today it’s possible to affordably purchase an individual solar panel that can power your laptop, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the energy used by people worldwide—especially in highly developed countries. 350 is an “international movement of ordinary people” working to replace fossil fuels with 100% renewable energy.
The last of the “big three” conservation topics of the late 20th century is the oceans. Millennials and Gen Xers still religiously chop up their plastic soda rings—if they come across cans packed that way, which is far rarer these days—which only goes to show the power awareness campaigns can have. For another example, see the Great Plastic Straw Debate in recent years, and the rise of stainless steel, glass, bamboo, and silicone straws. Oceana, founded by a group of charitable foundations, goes beyond basic advocacy to engaging in legal battles for the protection of our ocean. They tackle multiple facets of ocean conservation, from overfishing to pollution and plastic trash.
The oldest extant conservation organization is American Forests, founded nearly 150 years ago to advocate for healthy tree populations across the United States. Like many organizations, they take a multi-pronged approach to address their mission, which in the face of growing climate pressures includes reforestation, solutions for managing forest fires, and employment opportunities in the forestry industry for underserved populations.
World Wildlife Fund
Many people have heard of World Wildlife Fund, but may not know what they actually do. Amazingly, they do a little bit of everything. They have programs and resources to help protect endangered species, oceans, forests, and freshwater resources, and address food scarcity and climate change. They work with scientists, organizations, individuals, corporations, and governments around the globe to achieve major conservation goals.
Another idea exciting conservationists is regenerative agriculture. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it refers to a group of agriculture practices centered around conservation and rehabilitation (for example, of soil). Biodynamic farming or viticulture is a similar concept you may also have heard of.
Regeneration International is exactly what it sounds like: an international organization focused on promoting regenerative agriculture practices—rejuvenating soil health, ensuring a clean water system, recycling farm waste, composting, and reducing and capturing greenhouse emissions.
Alliance for Climate Education
We wanted to come full circle here, because, well, the youth really are our future. Climate change is of the utmost concern to Gen Z, which is rapidly becoming known as one of the most educated, aware, and active generations in living history. But as passionate as they may be, their greatest tool is education.
Alliance for Climate Education covers a lot of the same ground as Earth Guardians, but whereas the latter organization is focused more on direct action, ACE brings education to the forefront, partnering with educators across the country and culminating in a fantastic set of climate change educational resources aimed at the next generation.
This is just a few of the groups working hard every day to make sure the pollinators, and the people, have a healthy planet to enjoy.