It can seem almost impossible at times to have any influence in the world on a global scale as just one person. Certain problems appear insurmountable and it can feel like no matter what we do, our efforts won’t make much of a difference. I’ve been thinking a bit about this lately and trying to figure out how I can do more. After a bit of thought and research, I came up with the ideas in this article. So without further ado, here’s a list of 10 ways you can help change the world today:
1. Do something thoughtful for someone in your life
Choose someone that you care about in your life and surprise them with something nice. This doesn’t have to be something you buy, in fact, it’s probably better if it’s not a physical gift. Maybe do a favour for them, send them a nice message or even buy them something small like their favourite coffee or milkshake. If you like to bake, you could bake them something. If you have a different skill, like being able to fix things, maybe volunteer to fix something of theirs that might have recently broken. Use your knowledge of the person and what they like to tailor the surprise to them. This can help to improve their day and is a nice surprise if they weren’t expecting anything that day.
2. Add to the world in a positive way using your creativity.
Use your creative ideas to influence the world for the better or to just add something amazing to it. If you are a filmmaker, musician, artist or writer, etc, create something amazing that we didn’t have before and share it with the world. There are so many movies, songs, tv shows and books that have made my time on earth better by experiencing them, and there is something you can create today that can do that for someone else. It can be as big as designing a beautiful skyscraper or as little as creating an amazing meal to share with your family.
3. If possible for you, choose the renewable option
If it’s in your budget, try to go with a renewable energy option. If you are building a house or already have a house, maybe think about getting solar panels or maybe invest in a small windmill for your garden (I know a windmill doesn’t seem feasible to a lot of people right now but if you google local windmill suppliers and installers, you might be surprised how much cheaper they are than you would expect). Lots of countries currently give grants to people trying to install solar panels because it helps to take the load off the country’s energy grid so look into what supports are available in your area.
Renewable energys also make your energy bills a lot smaller in the long run. With finite resources like coal and oil, they can potentially only get more expensive as time goes on and they become more finite. Maybe you can afford them today (or maybe not, like a lot of people struggling with the energy crisis), but in ten years, we don’t know how much providers of oil and coal could be charging. Whereas with renewable energy, it’s unlikely we will ever run out of sun or wind so, in theory, it should only get cheaper with time. Now is the time to start making some plan or long-term saving to start switching to renewable energy.
If you don’t have a house or have no way of affording the transfer to renewable energy, you can also help by putting pressure on governments to incorporate more renewable energy options into their plans, eg. Adding solar panels to state housing projects, creating incentives or grants to help the private community to embrace renewable energy more, or helping private electricity businesses that serve the public get tax breaks on income they’ve made specifically through renewable energy sources, etc. This “pressure” can be put on governments by writing letters to local politicians emphasizing how important this is, or possibly by getting people to sign petitions to show how many people find this topic important so they can bring that information back to the government to be brought up.
There are also electric/ hybrid cars. If you have the option to get an electric or hybrid car over a petrol or diesel car, take it. It’s a simple change that if everyone takes can make a big difference.
And if you have very little extra income to spare, something you can do that makes a difference but doesn’t involve you spending more upfront money, is recycling. It feels simple and like 1 person cant have much of an impact doing it, but everyone recycling adds up and creates an impact.
This is a pretty obvious one but I couldn’t not include it. You can volunteer your time to help a charity or cause you believe in. This can also be really fun if you choose a cause you are interested in. If you love animals, you can volunteer at an animal shelter to walk dogs or take care of the animals. If you are a people person, you can choose something with more human interaction like a food bank or homeless charity. Or if you are not a people person you can choose something where you would be more in the background sorting out items like in a charity shop. If volunteering is something you are interested in, there are so many ways you do this in a way that suits you and so many causes out there to choose from.
5. Look into budgeting to find a way to give to the causes you love.
Money gives us a certain amount of power in the world, and I’m not talking just if you are a millionaire. You have the power to choose how you want to spend your excess money and you have the power to put a plan in place to be able to save and donate a certain amount of money if that’s what you want to do. It can be as little or as much as you like, or it can be none. I don’t believe in guilt-tripping people to give to charity if they don’t want to but I have a feeling if you are reading this post, you are probably one of the people who might already have a cause in mind and wants to be able to help.
If this is you, make a plan even if it is tiny and not very often, eg. “I’m going to save x amount every month (or can be something like x amount every 3 months if you feel you are extremely tight on cash and put that money into that fund as soon as you get it). Then you can wait a while until you have a certain amount saved and find a cause close to your heart to donate to or you can try to come up with some more creative and fun ways to use the money to change the world for the better. (Look out for a future article on some of these ideas)
6. Donate to #teamseas
There are lots of charities out there but there are a few which we can say will benefit everyone on the planet. Team Seas is one of these causes. For every $1 donated, Team Seas will work to remove 1 pound of trash from the ocean, either by removing it from the rivers before it can make its way to the ocean, removing it from beaches, or collecting it from the oceans themselves. Their website also shows you how much everyone has raised combined which helps to show the impact of everyone working together. They now have raised over 30 million dollars and are now working to use this money to remove over 30 million pounds of trash from the ocean. If donating seems like something you are interested in, here is the link to their site.
7. Donate to #teamtrees
Team Trees was set up by a lot of the same people who set up Team Seas and was launched first. For every $1 donated, Team Trees will plant a tree somewhere in the world. Team Trees’ initial goal was to plant 20 million trees and have now surpassed that by raising more than 24 million dollars to plant over 24 million trees. Over 20 million of those trees have already been planted and are at numerous locations worldwide. More trees, like less trash in the ocean, benefit all of us. If you don’t know why more trees are better for the planet, then watch this video about all the great things trees do. Here is the link to the Team Trees site if you feel like donating.
8. Perform a random act of kindness
I already talked about doing something nice for someone close to you but it can also be really fun to do a random act of kindness for a stranger. There are so many cool and creative ways to do nice things for strangers. Look out for a possible future article on this with more ideas but for now, here are a few fun ideas:
- Put money in parking meters if you have them where you live so people’s parking is paid for when they return.
- If you don’t have parking meters you can always wait at the pay station of a carpark and offer to pay for peoples parking. say something like “hey im paying for the next 10 people’s parking (or however many), Is it okay if I pay for yours?” I usually like the type of random act of kindness where you never interact with the recipient just because I’m not really a people person, but if you love interacting with people it could possibly be a very fun interaction. I’m sure most people would be pretty excited to get something free for no reason.
- I think the type of random act of kindness I’d prefer more is if I saved up a bigger amount of money and bought vouchers at a grocery store and gave them to a cashier and asked them to give the vouchers to the next customer or give numerous vouchers to the next few customers.
- Or you could give money to the cashier at a drive-thru window and ask the cashier to use the money to pay for the next person or however many people the money will cover. Then you don’t see the person who receives the gift’s reactions but you get to imagine it and imagine how fun it is for the cashier to tell the person the news that they are getting a free meal or money off.
- or you can go to an arcade, buy tokens, and put them in the games so that the games have free credits and the next person to play will get some free games as a little surprise.
The great thing about this is it doesn’t have to be a massive amount of money to really add to someone’s day, a surprise €10 off groceries can be a really great surprise if someone is not expecting it. And if you do it at the cheaper budget grocery stores, it will usually go to someone who could really use it or at least loves a bargain. Plus you can decide if you wanna split your money up to give a little amount to more people or if you want to surprise one person with a bigger voucher.
Random acts of kindness involving no money include ideas like:
- Leaving someone go ahead of you in line
- Leaving a great Google or Facebook review for a business you love
- Leaving unused coupons next to that certain product in the store
- Letting someone go ahead of you in traffic
9. Meditation and Talk Therapy
What is the phrase? “Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself”? Something like that. Well anyway, it’s true. Even if you aren’t speaking from the esoterical view of changing yourself and it reflecting in the world, a way to help make the world a better place is for each individual person to become a better version of themselves.
“Hurt people hurt people” and if everyone worked on themselves and their issues or childhood traumas, then the world would be a better place overall. If each of us works on ourselves, especially before having children (although it is still as beneficial if you already have them) then it’s would help to break the generational cycles of trauma within families that sometimes go on for generations.
There are dozens of ways to do it, I don’t think the only way to improve yourself is to meditate or do talk therapy but they can be a good place to start if you don’t know how to start and are open to them.
10. Finding A Problem In The World and Fixing it
Look at something personal to you that you find to be a big problem in the world and try to come up with solutions to fix it. Don’t think just because you are only one person that you can’t do it. Boyan Slat was only sixteen when he realized how much trash was filling up the oceans and was told by many people around him that nothing could be done to stop it. He was told the problem was too bad to be able to make a difference. He founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013 and put together a team of people to help figure out how to help the oceans be trash free once again. They came up with a number of ways including removing existing trash from the ocean and preventing more trash from entering the ocean. You can find out more about it here. They are one of the partners who are helping #teamseas. I have no affiliation with Teamseas, Teamtrees or The Ocean Cleanup by the way, I just was very inspired when I heard Boyan’s story. That in that case, one person really helped make a difference.
Maybe homelessness is the topic closest to your heart, or maybe it’s gender inequality. Whatever the cause is that you feel really strongly about, know that it is possible for you to make a difference. You can create a non-profit organisation like Boyan did or you can reach out to an existing organization to find out how you can help. It’s possible that your ideas are the ones they needed to take them to the next level in their mission. You can make an impact.
So those were 10 ways you can help change the world today. Even though a lot of problems in the world seem impossible for us as individuals to overcome, with small steps and gradual changes, we can get there. It is possible for us to create a better future, both individually and together and I hope this article helped you find a few small ways to help change the world for the people around you.
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