EIGHT WAYS THAT YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
1. CLICK AND DONATE
There are several websites where you can trigger a donation from the site’s sponsor by clicking on an icon. Go to the Rainforest site ( www.therainforestsite. com) and save one square metre of rainforest. It won’t cost you a penny. Tomorrow you can save another square metre. Or take a vocabulary test at www.freerice.com and for each definition you get right, 10 grains of rice will be donated to feed the hungry. This was launched on October 7, when 830 grains were donated; by the end of October, the daily total had risen to 60 million grains, and is still rising. Beware: this website is seriously addictive.
2. SAVE YOUR SPARE CHANGE
Get hold of a large jar to use as a collecting box. Empty your pockets of spare change every night. Decide which coins to keep for tomorrow and which to put in your collecting box. You will be amazed at how much you can collect without even noticing. Find a project that interests you, and donate your savings to it.
3. CHANGE SOMEONE’S LIFE
If you are stuck for ideas, why not lend your money to help a poor person in a developing country to help them set up a business? It is exciting to give your support directly to one person. What is more, once they have made a success of their enterprise, they will repay your loan.And when you get your money back, you can decide to lend it to somebody else. Go to www.kiva.org and choose who to invest in.
4. RECYCLE YOUR OLD SPECTACLES
Over here we have the latest designer frames and two-pairs-for-theprice-of-one special offers. In the developing world, 200 million people live their lives in a haze of half-sight, too poor to have an eye test or buy a pair of spectacles. Your old specs could become a window to a bright new world for someone else. Donate your old spectacles. Start a collection in your community or at work. Organisations such as Vision Aid Overseas will send them to where they are needed: www.vao. org.uk
5. MAKE A GOOD GIFT
It is Chanucah soon… or it is someone’s birthday’s next week. And you don’t know what to get them. Maybe they’ve got all they need. Maybe they never like what you choose. Here’s the perfect answer. Buy a Good Gift. Their birthday gift is a goat for a widow in Rwanda. They will really like it, as it will help transform someone’s life. The even better news is that they will not have to look after the goat. The Good Gifts Catalogue ( www. goodgifts.org), founded by my wife Hilary Blume, is full of exciting gift ideas that will help change the world.
6. LINK UP YOUR COMPUTER
Most of the day your computer is doing nothing, when it could be helping solve an important problem – like the structure for an effective Aids vaccine, or climate prediction that looks at the impact of global warming. These problems are too large to be solved by a single computer. But thousands of computers all over the world working together could have an effect. Go to www. distributedcomputing.info and sign up for one of the active projects.
7. GET A RED CREDIT CARD
Product RED was started by Bono to raise money for the Global Fund to fight the world’s three killer diseases — Aids, TB and malaria. Get the American Express RED card ( www.joinred.com). There is no annual fee and 1% of your spend is given to the Global Fund. You even get RED treats for yourself if you spend more than £2,000 in any quarter.
8. DRINK DIFFERENTLY
Marks & Spencer now sells only Fairtrade coffee. Give up bottled water and ask for tap instead (with ice and a slice of lemon); taste tests show that you will not be able to tell the difference, but you will be reducing pollution and saving money. Switch to low-energy lightbulbs, compost your waste and find other ways of reducing your carbon footprint… there are so many things you can do. Begin to change the world through your actions. And have fun doing it. Then go and do more tomorrow, and sign up all your friends as everyday activists. You might come up with a brilliant idea and become the next Muhammad Yunus, who created the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, promoting social and economic development, and won the Nobel Peace Prize. Michael Norton is author of 365 Ways to Change the World (Harper Collins, £6.95), which suggests something simple to do for each day of the year, and The Everyday Activist (Boxtree, £9.99), which shows you how to get involved and is illustrated with practical advice and the inspiring stories of over 40 ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. If you have an idea for taking action in your community or for a better world, visit www.unltd.org.uk, an organisation Michael Norton helped found. You may be eligible for a cash award