In the middle of a period of chaos and doubt, people are told to stay inside as much as possible. Group events are banned, universities are closed, and workers work from home. Many find themselves stressed about the uncertainty of it all, other have an excess of time on their hands now that their workload has lessened. And quite frankly, I have to admit that I am one of these restless people.

In these ambiguous times, it is important that you take extra good care of yourself. And although part of that means watching some more Netflix while eating some more chocolate (although personally I prefer Welsh cakes), that isn’t going to help in finding a purpose over the next few weeks. But then I had an epiphany, I imagine it to be rather like when that apple fell on Newton’s head; what better way to overcome this isolation and feel meaningful than by doing some environmental volunteering?

There is no doubt Wales is having a hard time with crisis after crisis occurring. Storm Dennis and the floods in February took their toll as more than 1000 homes were destroyed, and many had to evacuate. In the present, the Novel Coronavirus is everywhere in Wales, making it more important than ever to stand united. Physical barriers shouldn’t stop us; amongst the many ways in which we can stand together in mental solidarity is volunteering. I am impressed by the Welsh effort to contain the virus and keep us together, if we can show the same solidarity in fighting the climate crisis, we will be able to solve it.

How, What and Where?

  1. Individual volunteering

Of course, it is important to try and avoid engaging in group volunteering at the moment. However, there are plenty of other individual volunteering opportunities out there, especially if you get a little creative. If there is one thing that we are allowed to do nowadays, it is to go for a walk in the mountains or along the beach; why not pick up some litter along the way? Bring a bin bag, some gloves, and start picking!

  1. Get Creative

Another great DIY volunteering activity you can engage in is upcycling with a message! Don’t you just feel like putting smiles on people’s faces right now, while at the same time cheering yourself up a little? And what a great time to start learning how to sew, or possibly to turn those fingers over, looking for a green sparkle.

What you will need:

  • An item/object that you don’t need anymore:
    • A pot, box or can
    • A piece of clothing
    • A piece of furniture
    • Cups, glasses, plates
    • Books
    • Anything else you can think of/yield

What you do:

Get creative! Turn that item into something new. For example, you can turn cans into flowerpots or luminaries, use that cup for a candle, fold the pages from a book into a wreath, sew your old jeans into a rug, a basket or a bag, the plate is your canvas; there are endless possibilities. After your upcycling, give your items to either a care home or go around neighbourhood to distribute them. A tip is to think of the elderly nowadays, many are vulnerable and rarely leave their houses, they could use a cheering up! (NB: Be careful in you direct contact with the elderly, it might be best to give your new treasures to a care home, hospital or other organisation who can distribute them for you).

To top it all off, ‘upcycling with a message’ doesn’t just benefit you and your community, your message would reach out to the planet as well. If you fancy saving the environment while supporting others, then I suggest you find your paint brush and start painting the world green!

 

  1. Virtual volunteering: The Environment Champion

If you don’t feel like doing a clean-up, or you aren’t such a DIY person, then don’t worry – long live the World Wide Web. Virtual volunteering enables you to volunteer from the safety of your own home, with your only assets being the internet and a computer, tablet or phone.

A digital volunteer can have many different tasks, for example email marketing, fundraising phone calls, volunteer tracking, social media management, website design, data entry or creating a range of creative content from videos to blog entries.

Where to find the opportunities, you ask? Many non-profit organisations are always on the look-out for new volunteers, and you can contact them directly to ask if they have any online opportunities. There are also established websites that can help you search, including our Volunteering Wales website and Catchafire. There are also more official organisations who have their own databases for virtual volunteers, for example UN Volunteers.

If you think you might be the next e-champion, don’t hesitate to browse through the opportunities listed on our website, amongst them you will find invaluable environmental champion opportunities as volunteer writers and social media volunteers. A new category called COVID19 has also been added, allowing you to offer support especially in relation to the coronavirus.

Although I know we all briefly considered re-watching the whole series of Game of Thrones in the next couple of weeks, I wonder whether that is really going to make us feel better? There is no need to set your passion on hold. In fact, your community and your planet need you now more than ever, whether that involves picking up a piece of plastic on your hike, making flowerpots out of old shoes, or writing a blog on environmental volunteering. Remember to take care of yourself, your community, and the planet in this period of chaos.