In a break from our regular programming—and in light of the ominous new world that is America under Donald Trump—we turn our attention away from the latest/greatest travel products to look into the world of non-profits who are working hard to preserve the world we all love to explore, ones that can benefit from your generous donations. These organizations reach beyond other essentials in 2017—subscribing to real journalism; donating to the ACLU, Sierra Club, and Greenpeace; and supporting pro-environment brands like Patagonia and companies like Columbia Sportswear, who came out against the immigration ban—so if you love to travel, support their efforts.
Image: Moyan Brenn, CC-BY
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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One Percent for the Plane
If you frequent a handful of pro-environment gear-makers in the outdoor space, you've likely seen 1%. This global network of businesses, individuals, and nonprofits are working together to assure the planet's overall health, focusing on climate, food, land, pollution, water, and wildlife—in other words, all the things that make traveling this world so inspiring. Buy products associated with them (and there are a lot ) and you're already doing your part. But they will also happily accept donations as well.
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Protect Our Winters
Founded by pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones, POW is composed of a compassionate crew of diehard athletes and winter industry professionals who love snow—and recognize that a dying climate means the snow won't last. They focus on educational initiatives, political advocacy, and community-driven activism to flight climate change. And their PowSeven Pledge , which outlines seven ways to get active, is especially prescient for issues beyond their causes.
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Despite Trump's protests to the contrary, the refugee crisis is an American issue, and it's one that supersede any impulse for isolationism. Mercy Corps is one of the best NGOs to help funnel help and support those impacted communities. But they also combat food shortages, poverty, malnutrition, focusing on building engines for long-term recovery in communities for more than 40 countries.
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The Nature Conservancy
With a footprint in 69 countries, chances are your next must-visit spot is being supported by the Nature Conservancy, which is focused on protecting water, taking action against climate change, saving oceans, conserving land, and transforming cities into places where nature lives in consort with the asphalt. To execute their vision, they have 550 full-time scientists (take that, climate change deniers!), execute innovative conservation finance, and work with companies throughout the globe.
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UNESCO World Heritage
This one might feel like a slight left turn from the more environmentally focused NGOs, but the ramifications of Trump's America is almost impossible to predict beyond the ominous storm clouds that are building, and that's why protecting the UNESCO World Heritage sites—cultural, natural, and man-made—is so vital. These ARE the wonders of the world, and donations to the cause will help assure that they still exist when you plan your visit.
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Whatever your opinion of Matt Damon, you gotta give him credit for using his celebrity cache to help Water.org, the non-profit he co-founded with Gary White. As its name implies, its focus is to break the cycle of poverty throughout the world by finding solutions to make safe water available to everyone, initiating programs like offering small, affordable, and easy-to-repay loans fund household water and sanitation to wider, more market-driven financial solutions.
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In Ecotrust's first 25 years, they stopped development in more than 800,000 acres of coastal temperate rain forests in British Columbia, built an iconic green building in Portland, OR, and founded the world's first environmental bank—and that's just for starters. Some of their recent projects include building regional food hubs, creating tools for long-range forest planners, providing local and healthy food to schools, and developing next-generation fishing communities to support healthy working waterfronts.