Every decision we make with our purchasing power, big or small, has an amplified impact. So, this year, leverage your holiday shopping for a good cause. While we can’t protect every wild place or solve every environmental problem by shopping, we can all make small positive impacts. If you need to upgrade your gear, or buy gifts for family and friends, consider some of the tips below to help the environment and support organizations that work to protect our public and wild lands. 

1. Shop gifts that give back

Your favorite outdoor gear and apparel brands are likely already giving back to protect our wild places and planet. Columbia, Keen, Klean Kanteen, Marmot, and hundreds of other outdoor gear brands commit to donating at least $100,000 to The Conservation Alliance to support programs that protect open spaces and the environment. Similarly, brands like ENO are part of the 1% For the Planet program, in which businesses donate a share of their profits to vetted organizations that work to preserve our natural resources. Check out the lists of brands giving back, so your purchase can make a positive impact.

2. Visit your public lands

Introduce your family and friends to the outdoors. Doing something outside together shows them why it’s important to protect our natural places. Visit a local nature preserve, take on a challenging hike, go cross-country skiing, bird watch, take your dog for a walk, or just get out and experience the solitude wild places provide. Studies show that children who grow up spending time in nature are more empowered to fight to protect it as adults. Find a family-friendly hike in the Adirondack Park in Upstate New York, State Parks in Vermont, or on hiking trails in New Hampshire, or learn about winter hiking in the Catskills to find an adventure that best suits your group.


3. Donate directly

We all have that friend or family member who’s always sharing photos from their latest adventure. They love nothing more than a week in the woods, their prized days paddling remote rivers, or climbing the most extreme mountains in the Northeast. Rather than adding to their ever-expanding gear stash, support the wild places that call to them. Make a donation in their name to an organization that works to protect the locations they love most.

This time of year, many nonprofit organizations have matching opportunities to encourage new supporters to make a donation before the New Year. If there is a time to donate, it’s now! Look to see which organizations that support the public lands near you have a match opportunity, so your donation can pack twice the punch.

4. Shop eco-friendly brands

Whether it’s toys, kitchen gadgets, or hiking gear, buying from eco-friendly brands helps reduce your environmental impact. Support companies that aim to lower their carbon footprint, lessen waste in landfills, and reduce air and water pollution. Do your own research before shopping, and beware of “green washing” or other vague, empty eco-friendly claims. Look for brands like prAna and Oboz that clearly outline sustainability programs on their websites.

5. Get your hands dirty

Sign up to volunteer on a trail crew. This time of year, there are a lot of downed branches and trees on the trails. Help get the trails snowshoe-ready, and organize a group of friends to volunteer on a project. You can find such opportunities in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Or, simply organize a trail cleanup, and visit high-traffic wild places to pack out any trash you find.

6. Speak up

Write a letter, make a phone call, and get conversations started on social media. While November and December are commonly known as the holiday season, it’s also when state officials are drafting their budgets for the next fiscal year. This is a critical period to get state leaders thinking about allocating resources to protect our wild places and public lands. Not sure what to say? Simply explain why protecting our environment is important to you.