3 Eco-Friendly Ways to Pay It Forward

Image by Moyan Brenn, Creative Commons

You’ve probably heard the term “pay it forward”. Maybe you saw the movie or read the book, or maybe you’re simply familiar with the term as it relates to doing good deeds for others. But it’s more than that. It’s about making changes for the better.

The whole idea behind paying it forward is that rather than paying back the person who did a good deed for you, you pay it forward and do a good deed for someone else. It is a selfless act, done without expecting to be paid back or reimbursed for your action.

In my opinion, we don’t see that kind of behavior as often as we should…people doing something for another without feeling they need to be paid back, but rather spreading the good deeds and making a positive change, if you will.

How do eco-friendly actions and caring for the environment tie into paying it forward? Well, take a moment and look at your life. Why do you try to be more green or eco-friendly? Do you do it so someone will do something in return for you? Do you do it so you can save money? Do you do it so your kids and their kids will have a cleaner, greener planet?

Let’s take a look at a few, eco-friendly ways you can pay it forward:

1) Leave-No-Trace Camping: One very basic way to pay it forward is by working the idea behind leave-no-trace camping, into your own life. When you go camping, pay it forward by leaving no trace that you have ever been there. Let the people who arrive there after you’ve left, enjoy the environment and untainted beauty nature provides.

You can also use this in other areas of your life, for example, when you go to the beach, when you go hiking, biking, to play at the park, etc. Pay it forward by doing the simple good deed of leaving no trace you were ever there. While some people like to “leave their mark” on the world  isn’t it better to let people enjoy nature, as nature intended? You were able to enjoy nature, why shouldn’t they?

2) Start a Community Garden: While some people may argue this is something you are doing for yourself as well, I think starting a community garden is a great way to pay it forward. Don’t be selfish and grow fruits, vegetables and herbs only for you. Why not grow them for the community? Grow them for someone who doesn’t have what you have. Start a community garden, get the people in the area involved and give them the means to have a thriving, garden they can care for and watch grow for years to come. All you need to ask in return is that they then pay it forward.

This is also something you can get started at your child’s school. What a great way to get children involved by having them care for a garden and be responsible for growing fresh fruits and vegetables. They can then pass on the knowledge and garden itself to the next year’s class, as well as give their harvest to the school or community around them.

3) Donate: Whether it is time, money or items you no longer have a use for, donating is a wonderful way to pay it forward. It is giving in the purest sense of the word. Without any desire to be paid back, you are giving something of yours to someone else in order to help them out.

Donate to others and you’ll often find they too begin donating. It’s a nice way to “get the ball rolling”. But more importantly, it helps an individual or family in need. Besides, when it comes to clothes, furniture, kitchenware and other such items, there is no reason to throw away good things when there are others who need and can put them to good use.

In honor of World Humanitarian Day, which was celebrated just last week, here is a video paying tribute to people who do what they need in order to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to donate their time, money and/or services to help others in need:

While each of the above steps are ways you can try and live more a more green and eco-friendly life, it isn’t really about “going green”. There is no need to ‘go green’. It is more about living a simple life and appreciating the natural world around us.

But it is also about paying it forward. If we want others to be able to enjoy this planet and all that nature provides, then we would be wise to take steps and start to pay it forward. Can you imagine what would happen if person after person figured out eco-friendly ways to pay it forward? Tell me…what ideas do you have to pay it forward?

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