Written By Phoenicia Schwing

Cookouts, late night bonfires, and pool-time fun—there are so many things we love about summer. The days are long, warm, and sunny. We often have more time—or at least more energy—to be outside enjoying the fresh air and vitamin D. But if you’re running out of things to do, check out these ideas for how to use that motivation to give back and support Mother Earth this summer.


Summer is a great time to get active. The warm weather and extra free time often have us itching to be outside. Apply that itch to support Mother Earth. Get out in nature. Find a national park and go for a hike to appreciate her wonder and beauty.

To take it even further, consider participating in community-based runs that raise money for charities. If you’re not sure about where to start, check out Charity Miles, where you can become a mover and shaker by literally moving and shaking. This app allows you to choose a charity and log your movement. For every mile you move, a donation gets made to the charity of your choice by sponsored corporations and individuals.


When we think of recycling, our minds often go straight to throwing plastics and cans in the recycling bin rather than the trash can. While this is great, we can take recycling even further by reusing old containers and repurposing old pieces of furniture or tired clothes.

We often talk about “spring cleaning,” but summer is a great time to go through your house and sort out unwanted items. Donate what you can’t use. Gently used clothing, toys, and household items can easily be donated to homeless shelters or resettlement organizations. Talk to your locally owned restaurants or businesses about donating unused food or other products, as well.  


Giving back doesn’t necessarily have to require huge gestures. Sometimes it’s all about the small things you can do around the house. Think of all the ways we use unnecessary energy, plastic, or water on a daily basis and figure out what you can do to save some of that from being wasted. Maybe you need to set your AC thermostat just a little warmer than usual, or use a water filter rather than buying bottled water. You could go meatless one day a week to reduce the draw on natural resources, or bring your own canvas bags to the grocery store to diminish plastic waste.  


With longer days in the summer and the kids out of school, we often have more available time. One fantastic way to give back is to volunteer — whether that’s with a local food bank, an animal shelter, or simply on your own. Team up with a local state park to pick up litter and clean Mother Earth, or grab a trash bag and some friends and clear your own streets.

If you’re looking for a change of scenery, consider volunteer options like Workaway or WWOOF.  With these organizations, you can help local businesses or sustainable farms across the globe. You work a few hours a day in exchange for accommodation and board. Practice or learn a new skill and support others as they strive to give back just like you are. These are great opportunities to learn from each other and to get a taste of sustainability all over the world.


Put those green-thumbs to work. Perhaps one of the best ways to support Mother Earth is to help cultivate her beauty and make up for some of the damage we do on a regular basis. We can help make up some of that loss by planting trees, whether we do it through an organization or on our own—in our own yard or a public area (with permission, of course).

In addition to making up for some of the damage we have facilitated, we can avoid creating more by planting our own sustainable gardens at home. Your local nursery will be happy to answer any questions and supply whatever you may need. Ask about which vegetables and herbs grow best year-round in your area. This is a fun project to involve your whole family, friends, or other members of the community.  

For many of us, being aware of the need for better conservation and sustainability is not the issue. Most of us want to give back and protect our beloved planet, but coming up with practical things to do can sometimes feel daunting. Remember that there are countless, small ways to effect change. These small things may not always feel like they make a big enough difference, but when we come together and do something, it can have a much bigger impact.