13 Little Ways to Make the World a Better Place
Inside you there’s a mighty activist, even if you’ve never owned a bullhorn or chained yourself to an oil rig. To be an activist, all you have to do is exercise your power to, yes, act. You can be a force for good whether you’re helping a neighbor, raising your voice, or calling attention to a problem in need of a solution.
Every person can make a difference, and no deed is too small to matter. Consider the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, which is commonly used to refer to acts of kindness or the pursuit of social justice. The Hebrew phrase translates to "repair the world"—not revolutionizing or reinventing, just repairing: putting the world back together a little at a time, each of us, every single day.
Helping repair the world is your mission, should you choose to accept it. And we know you will.
1. Compliment Friends and Strangers
Try praising a new person each day for a month.
2. Spend Wisely
Whether you're in the market for an oil change or a bottle of Merlot, think about where you're directing your dollars. Can you find a woman- or minority-owned retailer? Or can you opt for a small business over a chain? Challenge yourself to do all your shopping this way for a week—or a month.
3. Talk Politics Productively
The initiative Make America Dinner Again, founded by Bay Area friends Justine Lee and Tria Chang in the wake of the 2016 elections, encourages citizens with different viewpoints to sit down and respectfully listen to one another’s opinions over a nice lasagna. For details on hosting an evening of your own, download the instruction guide at makeamericadinneragain.com.
4. Keep Your Kids' Vaccinations Up-to-Date
Friends don't give friends whooping cough.
5. Browse for Worthy Causes
Download a charitable web browser extension like Tab for a Cause, which uses ad revenue to donate to a partner nonprofit of your choice every time you open a new tab.
6. Switch to Tubeless Toilet Paper
Unless you're super crafty, you won't miss those cardboard cylinders—and neither will the planet.
7. Support Your Local Women's Shelter
Donate new bras, which are always in short supply. Menstrual products are another high-demand item (for every box of its tampons you buy, ConsciousPeriod.com will donate a box of pads to a homeless shelter), as are hair products suitable for different textures. And don't forget books and board games for the kids.
8. Know Your Neighbors
Only about 20 percent of Americans do—down from nearly 30 percent since the 1970s—and research has linked social connection with decreased depression and even a longer life.
9. Be Prepared
Someone has to have a bandage, a pain reliever, a safety pin, floss—why not you? The Pinch Provisions Minimergency Kit contains all of these, plus double-sided tape, nail polish remover, and more must-haves. ($18, pinchprovisions.com)
10. Eat Your Leftovers
It's estimated Americans throw away 15 percent of the food they buy each year—enough to feed millions of people. Plus, all that trash produces loads of greenhouse gases. Not sure when it's time to toss? StillTasty.com tells you how long to safely keep thousands of products.
11. Plant an Herb, Vegetable, or Flower Garden
Everyone wins: The plants produce environmentally beneficial oxygen, you reap the meditative rewards of gardening, and you can savor the fruits of your labor—or gift them to friends and family.
12. Give Away Your Unwanted Stuff
Put your goods on ad-posting sites and apps for free, so someone who actually needs them can have them at no charge.
13. Become an Organ Donor
About 95 percent of U.S. adults are in favor of organ donation, but only 48 percent are registered. You can sign up right now without leaving your couch, at organdonor.gov and potentially save eight lives—the number of vital organs you likely have to offer.