UW Combined Fund Drive

April 22, 2021

Celebrate Earth Month: Citizen Science

Throughout the year, the UW Combined Fund Drive acts as a resource for engaging in active citizenship. Our annual campaign is an avenue for investing in nonprofits that advocate for, take care of, and support the many causes about which you are passionate.

This year, we also highlighted UW and local nonprofit wisdom through our Practicing Social Advocacy content. As we wrap up Earth Month, we leave you with ways to be green citizens.

Embracing the Environment


We hope you have taken our suggestions about getting outdoors safely to experience some of the wonderful benefits and entertainment nature has to offer. To make sure these benefits and experiences can be shared with the next generation, and those to come, it is our job to protect and restore the environment.

Though day-to-day life changed dramatically in 2020, we are also given a golden opportunity to make better choices during the transition to the new normal. This may mean finding greener ways to commute to work, running an environmental audit in your workplace, or volunteering with local nonprofits that maintain trails, clean up waterways, and conserve wild land.

While you are out, there are many ways you can keep the outdoors clean and safe for everyone:

  • Carry a bag on your walk and make cleaning up a game! Create a litter scavenger hunt and see how many different kinds of litter you can find.
  • Team up! Divide into teams, then see which teams finds the most litter. Treat the winning team to a prize.
  • Reuse cardboard to make a sign that encourages your neighbors to keep your neighborhood clean.

Greener at Home

For over a year, many of us have spent a lot of time in our homes. Across the country people have been tackling home improvement projects at an increasing rate. If you’re one of these people, or are planning projects, this is a great opportunity to incorporate eco-conscious improvements!

You can make small changes like switching regular bulbs for LED bulbs that not only use less electricity, but also save you money over time. If you’re techy and looking for a bigger project, upgrading to a smart thermostat is more accurate and often comes with an eco-conscious mode. Many new appliances have built in green features and settings.

Having greener home habits is more than making improvement to your home. Small changes can have dramatic effects:

  • Spruce up your windows with curtains or blinds to help regulate temperature in your home.
  • Invest in plants! Plants are a great source of joy and are natural air filters. Don’t forget to water them with used water to double up on your green efforts.
  • Clean with greener cleaning products, including moving away from paper towels and toward reusable cleaning rags.
  • Use washable napkins and handkerchiefs.
  • After washing your clothing on cold, consider buying a drying rack instead of using the dryer. It’s better for your clothing and the environment! If you need to use the dryer, switch to reusable wool dryer balls.

“Florals… For spring? Groundbreaking.”[1]

We all make choices about what to wear. While each one of us may prioritize comfort, style, trend-setting, or something else, we all play a part in the fashion industry. Clothing is another area where change is not hard to make and the effects are dramatic.

In 2019, the World Bank reported that the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global industrial wastewater and uses 93 billion cubic meters of water (which is enough to meet the needs of five million people).[2]

These issues are exacerbated with Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion is a term for mass produced, low-cost, highly profitable clothing designed to reflect current trends in society or inspired by high-fashion designs. This segment of the industry relies on synthetic fibers created from fossil fuels that will not decay. Once garments are made, sold, and worn, many of them have the same fate: incinerated or finding a new home at the landfill.

We are not advocating ditching all your clothing to join a nudist community (unless that is your thing). There are so many changes you can make to minimize your contribution to the environmental fashion woes.

  • Make shopping an adventure and check out your local thrift shop. If you’re an online shopper, try ThredUp, Poshmark or Depop.
  • Host a swap. Clean out your closet and shop your friends cleaned out closets.
  • Do your research. Look into the brand you are considering buying to find out their environmental impacts.

Nonprofit Spotlight: Forterra

We all use land. Forterra, a Washington based nonprofit that is part of EarthShare Washington (charity code 0456443) provides land-based solutions to support a healthy environment and make communities more resilient. Starting in conservation, Forterra approached protecting wild lands through public-private partnerships that would protect all land, wild and working.

Today, Forterra works on conservation, restoration, community partnerships, and finding innovative ways to do the most good. They also advocate for policy and develop strategy to maximize equity.

[1]Frankel, D. (2006). The Devil Wears Prada. Fox 2000 Pictures.

[2] (2019 Sept 23) “How Much Do Our Wardrobes Cost to the Environment”. World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2019/09/23/costo-moda-medio-ambiente