Karen Belz
June 12, 2013 10:00 am

Have you ever associated the rainforest with your cell phone? You probably haven’t before, but you might now. A nonprofit company called Rainforest Connection is planning on installing used Smartphones in rainforests to help keep an eye on illegal logging, through the use of the phones’ microphones and software. If one of those phones picks up the sound of a chainsaw, or anything else particularly unusual, rangers will be alerted to the activity. The phones are powered using solar energy, and cover about a third of a square mile. It’s a pretty smart way to look after the environment while also making great use of technology that might have gotten tossed once an upgrade came along.

Rainforest Connection is based on an insanely innovative idea that makes a difference with common technology – and it’s inspiring to think of all the ways you can make a difference in the world, as well. Below are just five small ways you can also make a giant impact.

Glasses Donation: In the need for a new pair of frames? It’s easy to find a place to donate your old frames, and help someone who may need the gift of vision. In some countries, the cost of vision is extremely expensive (up to a month’s salary!) – and without proper vision, a lot of our everyday tasks become nearly impossible.

LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, and a few other major eye care professionals support OneSight, which is a family of vision care charities dedicated to providing healthy vision, eyewear, and sun protection to those in need. OneSight collects gently used prescription eyewear and non-prescription sunglasses to recycle and hand deliver to clinics all around the world.

Recycling Your Cell Phone: Rainforest Connection isn’t the only organization that’s making great use of old phones. There are many reasons as to why cell phone recycling is an amazing idea. According to the EPA, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered for every million cell phones recycled.

Organizations like Cell Phone for Soldiers, which started in 2004, provides troops with free calls home through the recycling of used phones, as well as monetary contributions. Each donated device valued at five dollars provides troops of two and a half much needed hours of talk time.

Donate Your Hair: While you might see it as a haircut, others might see it as a burst of confidence during a tough time. Locks of Love, which provides wigs for sick children, is one of the most popular organizations for hair donations. It’s estimated that 80% of all of their donations come from children who wish to help other children, which is news that you can’t help but smile over.

Here are some guidelines if you’re thinking of donating your hair: Hair must be at least ten inches measured tip to tip, hair must be in a ponytail or braid before it’s cut, and of course, hair must be clean and dry before it’s shipped. Colored hair is okay, unless it has been bleached first.

Another great organization to consider is Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which started up in 2006. To date, Pantene has donated 24,000 free real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks.

Donate Your Blood: You might have donated blood once or twice before, but you might not have realized how truly beneficial it can be. Blood donations help millions of patients in need. Each donation will yield about one pint of blood, and afterward, it’ll be processed. Most blood is spun in centrifuges to separate the transfusable components – red cells, plasma, and platelets. Afterward, it’ll go through some testing, and then become available to be shipped to hospitals every hour on the hour. Blood donation is especially important if you have a rare blood type, like AB negative (only one person in 167 has it!) While other blood types are complimentary, it’s still great to donate if you have it.

Recycle Your Wedding Dress (And Decor!): I’ve been to a lot of weddings that have encouraged guests to take table settings, and other goodies – the bride and the groom simply don’t want to think about the boxes of decorations after the reception ends, especially since they’ve got a honeymoon and the rest of their lives to think about.

Let’s face it – weddings are expensive, and while some girls dream about their wedding for a good portion of their lives, they just can’t afford it. And while recycling your wedding will free you of the clutter, it can also make someone else have their ultimate dream day, just like you did. If you know your dress will sit in a closet for the rest of its life, you could truly be a hero by selling it at a lesser fee to a bride-to-be. A good site to check out is BravoBride, which also offers thank you notes and favors.

If you want your dress to be a complete donation, Brides Across America, a Massachusetts-based charity, donates your dress to a United States military bride for free. Wish Upon A Wedding, which is the world’s first non-profit wish granting organization, provides weddings and vow renewals to couples facing terminal illness. Who knew your once-worn gown could be such a big help after you say “I Do”?

If you know of any other ways we can make a difference, please share them below. The more ways we can inspire and help the environment and each other, the better!

Featured image via Shutterstock

Advertisement