11 Notable Ways to Give Back to Your City

Between the restaurants that seem to open each week, the festivals, and the booming arts and culture scene, our cities leave little to be desired these days. 

The social, cultural and professional offerings are truly limitless. 

But what does your city get in return? Here are 11 ways to give back to your city: 

1. Volunteer with tree planting.

It’s easy to feel disconnected to the city’s soil. The solution? Plant a tree or two. In doing so, you can feel good about the fact that you’re helping to combat the greenhouse effect, cool the city streets and conserve energy. So whether you plant trees once a year, once a month, or once a week, it all makes a difference. Check out these tree-planting organizations near you:

Toronto: LEAF, Evergreen Brickworks
Vancouver: TreeKeepers
Montreal: MUSE
Calgary: Green Calgary

2. Purchase your food from farmers markets.

It doesn’t get more local than a farmers market. Grabbing our groceries from farmers markets impacts our local farmers, the environment and ourselves. We give the farmers a chance to compete against the large agribusiness farms booming all over North America. Not to mention, food on average travels 2500-km to reach our homes (and mouths), whereas food at farmers markets comes from nearby farms, reducing carbon emissions. 

3. Take public transit, walk or bike whenever you can.

Reduce that carbon footprint of yours. Alternative modes of transportation reduce the carbon emissions being pumped into your city’s air and the amount of noisy, annoying traffic on the streets. Not only does taking public transport save you money and give you time to listen to music or read a book, but one full bus produces 377 times less carbon monoxide than a full car. In addition, walking, biking, rollerblading, skateboarding means exercise – and you can never get enough of that. 

4. Support a hospital within your city.

When we’re fortunate enough to have free universal health care, the least we can do is support a hospital of choice. It’s not a matter of donating thousands of dollars; even five bucks a month can go a long way. Or organize a charity event to benefit the hospital. The money we give to these hospitals can contribute to anything from research to facility improvements, projects, and anything in between.

5. Support an organization related to something you’re passionate about.

Whether it’s related to the arts, sports or the environment, supporting an organization concerned about something you care about is always a great way to go. When we support organizations like TIFF in Toronto, Place Des Artes in Montreal or Surfrider Foundation in Vancouver, for example, it means the things we’re passionate about in our city will continue to flourish.

6. Pick up litter.

Picking up litter: it’s a pretty simple thing to do. But for a lot of us, it doesn’t even cross our minds. Throwing out garbage we come across on the sidewalk, the side of the road, or in parks makes for a much cleaner and enjoyable city. Think about it… it’s pretty hard to appreciate the grass and trees in the park when pop cans and food wrappers are lying about. Really, just pick it up.

7. Attend events created by the city.

When we attend the numerous food, film, music and art festivals that our cities have to offer, it shows how appreciative we are to have all these activities. Attending these festivals and events ensures that they will continue to occur for years to come. Not to mention, it’s a great way to feel a sense of community and to meet others.

8. Donate your clothing.

All those clothes in your closet that you don’t wear anymore are only taking up precious wardrobe real estate. Clean out that closet already and donate to homeless shelters, Value Village, Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. This way those who are less fortunate in our communities will have the ability to be appropriately dressed no matter the season. Donating your old clothes is essentially the perfect way to give back without spending a cent. 

9. Participate in fundraising events.

We don’t have to tell you there are endless fundraising opportunities in the city – from walks and bike rides to private events. For the most part, all it takes is forming a group and getting friends and family to sponsor you. You should also choose a cause that hits close to home; whether it’s related to cancer research, autism, heart disease, or ALS, everybody knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone.

10. Help build a home with Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity has 65 affiliates across Canada, which means there is likely a home being built in an area near you. Working with others, you can help construct a house for a family in less fortunate conditions than you within your community. By volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, you can help fulfill their vision of creating “a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.” 

11. Teach.

One of the easiest ways to make a difference in the lives around you and to give back to your community is to teach. From volunteering at your local library teaching young children how to read to instructing others on your special skill, the amount of things waiting to be learned is endless. Trust us when we say helping people acquire new knowledge is an extraordinarily rewarding thing to accomplish.  


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