Archive for the ‘humanitarian’ Category

eco holiday gift guide: for the philanthropist

December 2, 2008

You know who they are, the person who says “I don’t want any gifts, please!” Honor their wishes and get them the gift of compassion and good will.

Heifer International
Gift a goat (or other charitable gift) for a family in need

Oxfam Unwrapped
Invest in a small business, to help someone get started in the right direction

Center for Biological Diversity
Support their cause by making a donation in the recipient’s name

The Nature Conservancy
Adopt an acre in the US or plant trees in Brazil in their name

Environmental Working Group
Get a Pollution Solutions Holiday Gift Bag when you donate

World Wildlife Fund
Adopt an endangered animal (symbolically, of course)

Farm Sanctuary
Adopt a farm animal like Susie Moo, here (you don’t get to take her home)

Global Giving
A gift card so the recipient can decide where their donation will go
(Choose the email version to save resources!)

Or find their favorite cause on Charity Navigator.

Related post
more philanthropic gift giving

share in a time of need

October 15, 2008

I suggest that we are thieves in a way. If I take anything that I do not need for my own immediate use and keep it I thieve it from somebody else. I venture to suggest that it is the fundamental law of Nature, without exception, that Nature produces enough for our wants from day to day, and if only everybody took enough for himself and nothing more, there would be no pauperism in this world, there would be no more dying of starvation in this world. But so long as we have got this inequality, so long we are thieving.

~ M. K. Gandhi

It is hard for many people to give when it seems the economy is crumbling before us. But those who can still manage to feed their families, have a roof over their head, and have some savings to spare can still help those in need. If you can give, please consider donating to one of these charities that aid impoverished people, linked to their overview pages on Charity Navigator:

Help those hurt by the economic slump
Various highly rated US-based charities

Save the Children
Creating lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world

Sustainable Harvest International

Helping families reverse rainforest destruction and improve their standard of living

Charities building roadblocks to human trafficking
People desperate to survive resort to desperate actions. These charities help block the human slave trade.

African Medical and Research Foundation: Fighting poverty through better health

Room to Read
World change starts with educated children

Robin Hood Foundation
Targeting poverty in New York City

climate change hits the poor hardest

October 15, 2008

FACT: Some 262 million people were affected by climate disasters annually from 2000 to 2004, over 98% of them in the developing world. [UNDP]

Climate change is a moral, ethical, and socio-economic issue.

The wealthiest nations, those who are the most responsible for the increased output of greenhouse gases, will be the least affected by climate change. They will also be the most equipped to deal with the consequences.

In stark contrast, those that are the most impoverished have the smallest carbon footprint and are the most affected by climate change. Alone, they do not have the resources to face the dire consequences of climate change.

The impact of climate change on the developing world was the focus of a recent exhibit and campaign “One Planet, One Chance” created by Zago, based on the Human Development Report 2007/2008 from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The following are excerpts from the exhibit publication, comprehensive on its own, but only a taste of what you’ll find in the full report.

Examples of the contrasts between
the haves and have-nots

In many countries, poverty is intimately related to repeated exposure to climate risks. For people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, variable and uncertain rainfall is a potent source of vulnerability. Across the world, the lives of the poor are punctuated by the risks and vulnerabilities that come with an uncertain climate. Climate change will gradually ratchet up these risks and vulnerabilities, putting pressure on already over-stretched coping strategies and magnifying inequalities based on gender and other markers for disadvantage.

Who are some of the people affected?


It is hard to overstate the implications for human development. Climate change impacts will be superimposed on a country marked by high levels of vulnerability, including poor nutrition and among the world’s most intense HIV/AIDS crisis: almost one million people are living with the disease. Poverty is endemic. Two in every three Malawians live below the national poverty line. The country ranks 164 out of the 177 countries measured in the HDI. Life expectancy has fallen to about 46 years.

Climate change threatens to reinforce the already powerful cycles of deprivation created by drought and flood. Incremental risks will be superimposed upon a society marked by deep vulnerabilities. In a ‘normal’ year, two-thirds of households are unable to produce enough maize to cover household needs. Declining soil fertility, associated with limited access to fertilizer, credit and other inputs, has reduced maize production from 2.0 tonnes per hectare to 0.8 tonnes over the past two decades. Productivity losses linked to reduced rainfall will make a bad situation far worse.

Hurricane Katrina victims
The hurricane impacted the lives of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world’s richest nation. Pre-Katrina child poverty rates in New Orleans were among the highest in the United States, with one in three living below the poverty line. Health provision was limited, with some 750,000 people lacking insurance coverage. Hurricane Katrina selected its victims overwhelmingly from the most disadvantaged areas of the city. Poorer districts dominated by black communities bore the brunt. Flood damage interacted with deep racial inequalities (poverty rates among blacks three times higher than for whites). An estimated 75 percent of the population living in flooded neighbourhoods was black. The Lower Ninth Ward and the Desire/Florida communities, two of the poorest and most vulnerable in the city, were both totally devastated by Katrina.

Future generations will pass harsh judgement on a generation that looked at the evidence on climate change, understood the consequences and then continued on a path that consigned millions of the world’s most vulnerable people to poverty and exposed future generations to the risk of ecological disaster. If we value the well-being of our children and grandchildren, even small risks of catastrophic events merit a precautionary approach.

What can be done?

Climate change mitigation is about transforming the way that we produce and use energy. It is about living within the bounds of ecological sustainability. The starting point: putting a price on carbon emissions. Changed incentive structures are a vital condition for an accelerated transition to low carbon growth. In an optimal scenario, the carbon price would be global. This is politically unrealistic in the short-run because the world lacks the required governance system. The more realistic option is for rich countries to develop carbon pricing structures. As these structures evolve, developing countries could be integrated over time as institutional conditions allow.

If we are to succeed in tackling climate change we have to start by setting out the ground rules. Any international strategy has to be built on the foundations of fairness, social justice and equity. These are not abstract ideas. They are guides to action.

The importance of early and concerted action. The carbon budget is best understood as the global maximum amount of CO2 emissions that can be produced, and therefore absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and ecosystems, in order to avoid dangerous climate change. Briefly summarized, the 21st Century budget amounts to 1,456 Gt CO2, or around 14.5 Gt CO2 on a simple annual average basis. Current emissions are running at twice this level.

We only have one planet — and we need a one-planet solution for climate change. That solution cannot come at the expense of the world’s poorest countries and poorest people. Developed countries have to demonstrate that they are serious by cutting their emissions. After all, they have the financial and the technological resources needed to act.

Read the rest of the exhibit brochure.

Read the summary or the full report.

get a light, give a light

September 26, 2008

I love when I know a product is both useful and philanthropic. Like SunNight Solar’s BOGO flashlight. It’s solar-powered, water resistant, and durable. And for every flashlight purchased, one is given to someone in need in a developing nation.

Here are some technical specs:

  • Charges in 8-10 hours and provides 6-8 hours of illumination
  • Provides enough light to perform nighttime activities with 6 super bright LEDs
  • Powered by 3, standard NiCd AA, rechargeable, and replaceable batteries
  • Will last up to 1000 cycles of powering
  • Water resistant

Buy one, give one. You can get one in orange or pink.

new free rice games

September 18, 2008

I just donated 11,000 grains of rice testing out my Italian language skills. Yep, they added some new games to the mix at Now, in addition to the original free rice vocabulary game, you can test your knowledge of art, science, foreign language, geography, and math. It beats clicking away at Solitaire or Bejeweled because you’re actually helping feed hungry people through the UN World Food Program, thanks to the websites sponsors.

As of yesterday, 43,809,979,770 grains of rice have been donated thanks to bored office workers everywhere. Try it out!

Help end world hunger

[Free Rice via Make]

farm aid 2008

September 12, 2008

What’s wrong with our farm system? It’s unsustainable, unsupportive to family farmers, and unhealthy to us all. But for over 20 years, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young (and since 2001, Dave Matthews) have been striving to change that. As the face of Farm Aid, these musicians have seen their positive impact in the success of family farms, in the spread of the Good Food Movement, and through the development of grants that help farmers in need.

The concert
The Farm Aid concert, held next Saturday (9/20) in Mansfield, Massachusetts, is sold out this year. But you can still join the FarmYard fan club. If you join you get:

  • A Farmers Kick A$$ totebag
  • A chance to get special tickets to the FarmAid Concert
  • Year-round access to the members-only site with exclusive photos and video, including the 2008 concert webcast
  • 10% discount in the online store
  • Quarterly drawings for free autographed items like t-shirts and program books

Who benefits
One of the groups Farm Aid funds is FoodRoutes, a non-profit that provides support to organizations that aim to rebuild local, community-based food systems. One of their efforts is Buy Fresh, Buy Local, which introduces consumers to local produce and the farmers who provide it.

Meet the farmers who’ve benefited from Farm Aid.

Watch this important message from Neil Young

world of good (shopping)

September 8, 2008

When I spend my hard-earned dough I’d like to know where it’s going. Who is it benefiting (or harming)? What kinds of resources were used? Is it really worth the price (in terms of labor, effort, materials, etc)?

So in recent years, I’ve become really selective about where I shop. As I’ve said before, I avoid the big box and big name retailers (whenever possible) in favor of local, indie biz. Think Etsy vs Banana Republic, eBay vs Crate and Barrel. Of course there are times when it’s really difficult to completely ignore the big boys, like when you need a paper towel holder or new toilet seat.

Thankfully it’s getting easier and easier to find alternative sources for goods. Like the new responsible marketplace by eBay, World of Good. They’ve got a pretty big range of fair trade and/or eco-friendly stuff, from clothing and jewelry to furniture and toys. What’s really great is that they break it down in terms of the impact your purchase has. They call this a Goodprint and these are the categories: people positive, eco positive, animal friendly, and supports a cause.

It’s feel-good shopping, certified by third parties with their Trustology verification system. Many of their verifiers and sellers have been in the fair trade game for years, including Co-op America and Ten Thousand Villages.

Here’s a random selection of fun things you can get from World of Good:

PeaceKeeper Nail Polish
Proceeds go to people positive charities

Telephone Wire Bracelet
Eco-friendly repurposed wire, benefits South African artisans

Baby Llama Toy
Benefits Peruvian artisans, made with energy conservation in mind

Where does your hard-earned dough go?