The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.
At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.
Res 37: Find Simple Ways to Give Back
I love the world of service and giving. I also know how tricky it can be when you are low on time, resources, or funds. That said, there are so many absolutely fantastic and simple ways that everyone can make the world better that take little to no time or effort. I’d like to share a few of my favorites.
1. Free Rice and Free Kibble
Most of you probably remember Free Rice from grade school computer class. The website allows you to pick a subject such as “Famous Paintings,” “Chemical Symbols,” or even “SAT Test Prep” and answer questions for a cause. For every correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated through the World Food Programme to help end hunger. Not only are you donating food to those in need, you are learning new things. It’s truly a win-win and with subjects in geography, sciences, and language learning, there is something for everyone.
FreeKibble is a similar website. Started by Mimi Ausland at age 11, the website is designed with a daily trivia question. Unlike Free Rice, it doesn’t matter if you answer correctly, your interaction donates pet food to homeless animals in shelters across the country. Since it was launched in 2008, Free Kibble has donated over 18 million meals to homeless dogs and cats across the country.
Each day, as routinely as I check my email and post my Happiness is, I click into Free Kibble (and Free Kibble Kat and Free Kat Litter). It takes me approximately a minute to answer all 3 trivia questions and to “give” pet food and litter to shelter animals around the country.
2. Charity Miles
When I first heard about Charity Miles, I thought it was way too good to be true. Charity Miles is a free phone app that allows you to donate money to a number of charities while you exercise. The app donates 10 cents per mile biked and 25 cents per mile walked or run.
It’s certainly not an earth shattering amount of money – quick math says you’d need to run 4 miles before you even give a dollar, but let’s take a look on a larger scale.
I tracked 101.5 miles run in August. That’s $25.38 cents. It’s not a life-changing amount of money – but it is money that is going to a cause I care about for an activity I was going to be doing anyway. As I type this on September 23rd, I’m already over 100 miles this month. That’s another $25. If you’re going to be running, walking, or biking anyway, turn on Charity Miles.
This month, I’m running for the National Park Foundation but there are so many other worthy causes that need your mileage. I cannot express how these little donations add up. You have to start somewhere. Give that first quarter today.
3. Toilet Paper
This is perhaps my favorite quick switch of them all, because it requires only a bit of awareness and next to no change in lifestyle. When I was younger, I would collect toilet paper tubes and make them into wheels for Popsicle stick cars. I would make puppets and kaleidoscopes and any other craft that a 5-year-old with a glue stick could come up with.
Now, however, my toilet paper tubes simply wound up in our cardboard recycling bag. It all seemed like a terrible waste. Enter: Scott Brand Toilet Paper. Their website claims that over 17 billion toilet paper tubes are used each year – enough to fill the Empire State Building twice.
Scotts toilet paper created “tubeless” toilet paper – and I promise it’s just as soft as whatever ply toilet paper you’re currently buying. There’s not a noticeable cost difference, and when the roll runs out, it’s one less thing to put in your trash/recycling bag. Not only do you have to take out the trash/recycling less frequently, but you are saving so much waste by getting rid of the tube.
I never thought I would be so passionate about toilet paper, but every time my roll runs out into nothing, I can’t help but feel like I’m doing a little something to make the world better.
Resolution #37: Find Simple Ways to Give Back
Now I know these are all small, seemingly unimportant tasks. A few grains of rice here or a daily bit of Kibble there doesn’t seem like much. So I dare you to think of the big picture. Think of what could happen if, instead of scrolling through Facebook, you urged yourself to answer 10 trivia questions on Free Rice and you donated 100 grains every day? What if each day you played Free Kibble and in a couple minutes, donating to shelters became a part of your routine? What if you watched your miles add up and knew you were making some small different for an organization that means a lot to you? What if you could cut back on waste by mindful consumption?
These small acts aren’t replacements for regular volunteering or other community service. This isn’t mean to be the end all be all of your charitable life. These are simply quick and easy hacks that take little to no time to implement but can snowball into profound impact.
I’m going to end today’s post with one of my all-time favorite quotes by a man named Edmund Burke:
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”