By Rebecca Fending
In the words of T.S. Eliot, “April is the cruelest month”. And perhaps he was right: flowers and trees are shooed out of their winter slumber into the crisp spring air, the April showers seem to be never-ending, and the warmer weather is indicative of the sweltering summer to come.
However, April is also the calm before the storm, allowing for everyone to shake off winter and fully embrace the sun by getting outside and involved in their local community. There are many ways you can involve yourself with your community, one of which is volunteering. Every year since 1974, the last week of April is designated as National Volunteer Week. In the middle of this week is Earth Day on April 22. Often times, volunteer work goes hand in hand with the overarching themes of Earth Day: environmental care, attention, and conservation.
At first glance, you may think these overlapping dates are a coincidence, but it may have been a subconscious arrangement. Volunteering can seem insignificant to the most cynical among us, “It’s just free labor, isn’t it?” For those who volunteer, the answer is a resounding “no”. Volunteering isn’t free as the person volunteering is making a sacrifice of both their time and energy for the greater good of an organization or cause. Dedicating any amount of time to volunteering has shown to greatly improve your health on a multitude of levels, inspire greater change in those around you, and it often fulfills volunteers to know that what they’re doing has both an instant and lasting impact on the people and cause for which they volunteer. For this reason alone, people who give volunteering a try often make it a large part of their lives.
Are you ready to volunteer and also want to participate in Earth Day? The act can come in many different colors depending on what’s best for you. You can give your time to an organization, or you can volunteer elements of your everyday routine by swapping convention household products and actions to eco-friendly ones. To make environmental change, you don’t have to change your life overnight. It can be as simple as cutting back on your plastic baggie usage and using reusable containers, or investing in a reusable water bottle to take with you places as opposed to single-use Ice Mountain water bottles. These small changes can have a lasting impact on both your wallet and our environment—talk about a win-win.
If you’re looking to get out and volunteer, there are a number of local Earth Day events happening all over the state. From Earth Day festivals that require volunteers to help man different stations, to volunteer organizations partaking in Earth Day-inspired environmental cleanups, there’s no shortage of ways you can get involved in your community this April. For this issue of Lifestyles, we’ll put some of these local events in the spotlight to inspire a spirit of volunteerism throughout the state.
Until next month, have a happy National Volunteer Week and Earth Day!