There are a lot of obscure holidays and celebrated months throughout a calendar year. But I thought this one was an inspiring and worthy cause. The month of April is known as National Keep America Beautiful Month and through May 31st, it is the Great American Cleanup. The purpose of these holidays is to bring awareness to the environment, specifically littering and the effects on our National Parks.
While traveling, sometimes convenience is given precedent over environmental friendliness. But if we don't preserve and protect the destinations we love, they will not be there for future travelers to enjoy. One of my most shocking experiences with litter was in Pompeii, Italy. Here was this great world renowned archaeological site and the grounds were covered with empty bags, cups, soda cans and plastic bottles. It was quite sad.
There are small ways to make a big difference, such as simply as throwing garbage in the appropriate receptacle and recycling plastic bottles and cans while traveling just as you would at home. Thankfully, there are also many hotels that are adopting better environmental practices and becoming certified green. However, if you'd like to get more involved and take a trip that leaves you feeling good in more ways than one, then consider one of the following voluntourism opportunities that you can find with these non-profits:
Sierra Club: Whether it's working on habitat restoration, archaeological sites, or kayaking and cleaning up debris out of waterways, the Sierra Club offers over 76 different voluntourism vacations that explore and support the outdoors.
The American Hiking Society: If you love camping and don't mind getting dirty, then the American Hiking Society is the right fit for you. They offer volunteer trips all across the United States where you can help build, maintain and pick up litter along remote hiking trails.
Habitat for Humanity: Jazz up your next trip to New Orleans by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Since Hurricane Katrina devastated this popular destination in 2005, they are still working on rebuilding homes in the Upper Ninth Ward, the Seventh Ward, New Orleans East, and the West Bank.