Sunday, April 22, 2012

Top Ten Earth Friendly Organizations

The Blue Marble, courtesy NASA

Environmental Advocacy Groups and You

Happy Earth Day! We’ve come a long way since our first Earth Day in 1970. Certain pesticides have been banned, lead is no longer used in paints and gasoline, and wilderness areas have been protected. Consumers have learned to eat local foods, measure and reduce their carbon footprint, and avoid genetically engineered foods. There is still much to do. As technology develops, new toxic wastes and pesticides of unknown toxicity are introduced faster than we can keep track of them. Global warming and climate change are facts of life. What’s a concerned individual to do? How can we stay informed and protect our earth and our families, and still have time to work, play, and enjoy the environment that we’re protecting? How can we avoid becoming depressed about the state of our earth?

Sunrise Over Earth, courtesy NASA
I felt similarly overwhelmed when deciding whether pursue a career in environmentalism after working for pioneer ecologist Ray Dasmann at University of CA quite a few years back. So many issues and so little progress disheartened me, especially as Ray pointed out that exponentially increasing world population would likely wipe out any progress that we made in other areas. He never sugar-coated the statistics, and was not an optimist. Although I left the field of ecology as a profession, I recommitted to environmentalism on a consumer level, and to a modicum of optimism that we can learn to solve our environmental problems by working together.

There’s power in numbers, and allying ourselves with others of like mind creates an organization greater than the sum of its individuals. There’s also power in legislation. Corporate industry is not set up to consider the health and well-being of consumers before profits, but it must comply with the law. There’s also power in education, in keeping current with environmental issues. With education, legislation, and affiliation as priorities, here’s a list of my favorite earth-friendly organizations. Most are US-based, as am I. If you don’t see your favorite earth-friendly groups listed, please share them in a comment. Add to their power by telling us about them.

First, here’s some practical advice about joining environmental advocacy groups:
  • Caution against burnout: too much information can lead us become overwhelmed with “bad news” and not to act upon anything. Don’t try to be active in too many groups all at once.

  • First decide which environmental issues you’re most passionate about. If you don’t see those topics on my list, do a web search of your own to find your peers who share your passions.

  • Become an expert on your chosen issues. Learn as much as you can, sign the petitions, and walk the talk. As you learn, you’ll naturally spread the word by talking to others, emailing, using social media, etc. This will build power for your cause.

  • Sign the petitions for your cause, and share them. Corporations notwithstanding, legislators still listen to the constituents who vote for (or against) them.

Top Ten Earth-Friendly Environmental Advocacy Groups

  1. The Sierra Club sponsors hikes and outdoor activities as well as lobbying for legislation to protect and preserve wilderness areas and ban use of toxic chemicals in the outdoors. National and local chapters.

  2. The Nature Conservancy uses your donations to buy land and preserve it in over 30 countries. Their administrative costs are low and the public is invited to visit most of these undeveloped preserved areas.

  3. Natural Resources Defense Council works with community groups, businesses, and elected officials to curb global warming, create a clean energy future, revive the oceans, protect public health by reducing pollution, foster sustainable communities, and more. A one-stop grassroots organization for environmental wellness.

  4. League of Conservation Voters educates the public about current and pending environmental legislation, and supports election of pro-environmental candidates to Congress. Advocates for clean air and energy,  environmental responsible mining and oil industries, protecting national forests, and more.

  5. Beyond Pesticides protects health and the environment with science, policy, and action by compiling information on current issues pertaining to organic foods and pesticides.

  6. Say No to GMO provides information about genetically engineered foods and corresponding legislation worldwide.

  7. Slow Food International provides resources for growing and distributing good, clean, fair food throughout the world. 100,000 members in 153 countries, with over 1300 local chapters.

  8. The Hunger Site gives free food to hungry people throughout the world. You can feed someone every day just by clicking on a link. Buy fair-trade goods and feed more people.

  9. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch is the best US source for sustainable fishing information. Download a guide to sustainable fish in any area of the US, learn about fisheries science, find sustainable seafood recipes.

  10. World Wildlife Fund protects species, environments, and sustainable fishing throughout the world. Empowers indigenous people to manage their own natural resources (a concept that Ray Dasmann pioneered).

As Ray said, “The earth is the only known nature reserve in the entire universe.” Let’s get together and speak up to ensure that it’s healthy and sustainable now and for future generations.


  1. Thanks for listing these earth friendly organizations and stating down their advocacy. I work in a waste management services company and I want to become a member of one of these organizations too.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Andie. I can see how your work with AB Environmental cleaning up toxic wastes would inspire you to help regulate the use of chemicals in the environment, to assure they're used safely.