What does the word contribution mean to you? Is it simply financial assistance for those in need or does it mean something more? Where do we draw the line between a contribution for public good and contribution for personal gain? The truth, for every contribution we make to the world, we benefit from it in some way or the other ourselves. An act of giving back never goes in vain. Sometimes, we can make a difference with monetary means while on other occasions our skills and time weigh far more. Here are 6 ways you can start giving back to the world around you, one day at a time:
Make Your Career Count
Your job is perhaps the single most important point of productivity in your life, and your career path defines your success to a great extent. Money is the prime motivation for a job for all of us, but how many of us really consider charity as a conscious decision in our lives? One cannot deny the fact that money can contribute to a solution, if not completely solve the problems of the world. Starting today, make a choice – the choice to make your career count by consciously keeping issues like the environment, poverty, resource depletion etc. in mind whenever you make decisions in your workplace. You could be an employer, the owner of a business or a regular worker – every person counts. The easiest way to dedicate a part of your career to some form of voluntary service is to donate money. There are plenty of organizations such as non-governmental as well as governmental outfits which are working for the betterment of one section of society or a specific cause. You can support a variety of causes, or dedicate yourself to one. Find ways of engaging the community around you into what you do for a living. Reach out and recognize the fact that no career choice or business exists in isolation to the world around it.
Empowerment is all about providing another individual enough encouragement and resources, such that they can take control of their lives and make good use of their abilities. It is a fact that people’s natural abilities need the right motivation as well as conditions to realize their full potential. Yet another way in which you can contribute to the world is to spread empowerment and education among those who need it. Work on empowering one person at a time, both with words and actions. You can empower anyone with a few words of encouragement, by appreciating their work and their efforts. Empowerment is about adding value to the world, it is about making each person count – this does not always entail a monetary investment or even a significant access to resources, sometimes real value can simply be added by supporting a person in their endeavors and bringing them onto the path of self-sufficiency. Empowerment can be in the form of information dissemination on a global scale, such as TED.com which organizes talks on different issues, or it can be something more local such as an NGO that is working to empower rural women in India. The idea of empowerment is rooted in the very human idea of being willing to extend help in any which way possible.
Go Vegetarian Weekly
The debates revolving around the ethics of a non-vegetarian diet as well as the pros and cons of veganism on our health and environment, are very old. There are enough examples of people who have taken up vegetarianism as their way of making a difference to the world. However, what we ask of you is not quite the same. The of diet you choose for yourself is entirely dependent on your lifestyle and health needs, however it is also a fact that manufacturing non-vegetarian food products has significant impacts on the world’s environment overall. For example: to produce a pound of beef, around 2,500 gallons of water is needed. Similarly, for every fast food product that originates from an animal from a rainforest, 55 square feet of land or more is destroyed. While one can always evaluate the ethical side of our dietary choices, but one need no give up non-vegetarian food completely. Instead, try going vegetarian twice a week. Make intelligent food choices and go for those vegetarian food products which are not only good in taste, but also good in nutritional value. Even if you choose to go vegetarian once a week, you are contributing immensely to the natural world around.
Carry Your Own Water
For each bottle of mineral water you buy, you are unknowingly clogging up rivers and causing pollution. Plastic water bottles are often thrown away irresponsibly without proper treatment being given to the waste, and end up polluting the freshwater bodies that exist in the natural world. Plastic in any forms does not decompose easily, and plastic water bottles might not decompose at all if left untreated. The lesson learnt from numerous environmental campaigns and debates rings loud and clear – carry your own water. Whether you are going for work, to study or an evening out with friends, always carry a bottle of water with you. Use drinking water coolers provided at public places to refill it and help protect the environment and marine life, which is as much a part of this planet as you are. What’s more, plastic waste from cities is often dumped on the outskirts, in rural and low-lying areas which puts the people living in those places at a risk too. Water is something everyone needs – it is a undeniable resource, but there exist communities in the world even today who have never had access to clean drinking water owing to water pollution. Do your bit and make the world a healthier place, one bottle of water at a time.
Teach a Skill
We discussed the idea of empowerment above, which involves extending support and help to those who need it to realize their full potential. One of the ways in which communities have been successfully empowered in developing nations has been through vocational education. Skill training has benefited millions and provided livelihood to the poor. If you are skilled at something, then use it to bring about change and add value to people’s lives. It can be anything, a dance form, music, fine art, crafts or something unique you developed yourself. You can teach a skill in a variety of ways – you can organize classes in a physical location, or create video lessons which can be put up on Youtube or websites such as Tushky.com or Khan Academy. One can never value education and learning enough be it in any form, which is why if you can give a bit of your time and dedicate it to someone else’s learning, there is no greater contribution you can make. Giving back to the world we live in has different meanings for each individual – it is up to you how you wish to use your skills to make a difference. Whether it is by writing an article, making a painting, creating a piece of good music or spreading local handicrafts.
Our words have the power to influence a lot of things, and the first step towards making a difference and contributing positively is to speak out in favor of what you believe is right. This does not need to be a public speech – you can communicate your thoughts and feelings in many different ways. You can choose to write an article about it for a local newspaper, a blog post on your personal blog, or even a simple tweet on Twitter. The idea behind it is simple – if you can’t speak out in support of something, or against something, then you can’t possibly act upon it either. When it comes to contributing to the world and giving, thought must always precede the action. If your thoughts are well-organized, well-informed and well-substantiated in the face of criticism, then you are in a better position to put those thoughts into actions. We are all bothered by crime, corruption, rogue politics and a variety of other issues. The easiest way to actually to get something done is to get yourself heard. Find your platform, speak out and let people know what is on your mind.