Tuesday, November 27, 2018

{HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE} FOR HUMANS, ANIMALS + THE PLANET


{ Vulnerable Polar Bears! You can adopt one through the World Wildlife Fund! }

This guide was first published in 2016 and has been updated today!

A lot of my freelance work this time of year and a lot of the content on this ol' blog is focused around gift guides, holiday style and all the things that are often on our minds right now. We're spending a lot of money, and I'm not here to say that's necessarily a bad thing. I certainly love giving and receiving gifts this time of year, I think it's a really lovely way to celebrate the season and treat the ones you love to something nice.

However, if you have the means, this is also a great time to give to causes that inspire you and touch your heart. I want to invite you guys to join me in pointing just a small amount of your holiday spending money towards causes that desperately need our attention.

There are literally thousands of amazing charities and nonprofits out there which are very deserving of our time and donations—the below are just a few causes I admire and feel motivated to help right now.

As you have no doubt heard and read, the situation throughout Syria is (still) beyond dire. CNN has a pretty comprehensive list of charities and nonprofits that are currently providing humanitarian relief to civilians there, including the Red Cross and UNICEF. Mercy-USA specifically focuses on "improving health, nutrition and access to safe water, as well as promoting economic and educational growth," but there are so many programs set up to help citizens and Syrian refugees that are worth your time and money.

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO 
I have become a voracious consumer of NPR content over the past few years. I listen to their podcasts (TED Radio Hour, This American Life, RadioLab) regularly, and read stories on their website all the time as well. I think their point of view is important, and the stories they tell are both entertaining and educational. They're entirely funded by donations, so I think it's about time I contribute.

WORLD WILDLIFE FUND 
If you don't feel particularly stirred to do something to support endangered species around the globe, I dare you to hit up Netflix and watch even one or two episodes of BBC's Planet Earth (and Planet Earth II!). We only have this one place to live, and we're not the only creatures on it. There are many ways you can donate to the WWF—you can even "adopt" a threatened or endangered animal. You don't get to bring an Arctic Fox or a Three-Toed Sloth into your home, but your financial donation will protect one in its natural habitat!

OCEAN CONSERVANCY 
Like the WWF, Ocean Conservancy is a broad-reaching global project that aims to protect the oceans around the world, as well as the creatures that inhabit them. From stopping arctic drilling to fighting for sustainable fishing methods and establishing protected marine areas, Ocean Conservancy relies on sound scientific ideas to create effective programs. Again, if you need a reminder of how important it is to look after our oceans, hop on over to Netflix and watch Mission Blue.

Rescue animals are the best, and rescuing animals is also the best. My family has adopted dogs and cats in both Seattle and Sun Valley, and we have had the best experiences loving and caring for all of them. (That's Zooey, our rescue, on the right!) If you don't have a local animal shelter that you love, or don't have the capacity to open your home to an adopted animal (I don't in NYC!), consider making a donation to broad-reaching programs like the ASPCA and the Humane Society. Here in New York, you can even foster a dog or cat for a few weeks while a "forever family" is found, via Social Tees.

Here in America, 1 in 8 people faces issues with hunger. One way you can help is by donating to Feeding America, where they note that every $1 donated provides 11 meals for people in need. Another way to help is to use Feeding America's zip code tool to find a food bank in your area. You can donate food or volunteer your time.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD  
Thanks to the election of both Donald Trump and his VP Mike Pence, Planned Parenthood has been in the spotlight a lot lately. As a woman, a feminist and an open-minded human, I believe that making sure women have access to the resources provided by Planned Parenthood is essential. Abortion talk gets the majority of the attention now, but remember that PP provides cancer screenings and important information on birth control options, sex education, gender identity, STDs and more.

Do you donate money or volunteer your time for causes you care about? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

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