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Four ways you can make an impact on the world right now

Based on current data, there are more than 7.7 billion people in the world right now. As one of billions of people, do you feel that you are too insignificant to make an impact on the world? 

The “butterfly effect” is a metaphor for the theory that a small cause can develop into a big effect. Imagine that a butterfly, just by flapping its wings, could trigger a series of events that cause a tornado.

Just like this butterfly, your small actions make an impact on your community. Let’s see how you can make sure it’s for the better through some small changes.

1) You can use fewer disposables

A GVI participant collects plastic waste in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with the help of a young girl. In between working to collect behavioral data on elephants in Thailand, participants work on environmental education initiatives.


It’s very convenient to use disposable products, such as disposable plastic bags, cups, meal boxes, etc. However, these single-use items create serious issues for the environment. 

You can definitely help to reduce these problems. For example, instead of using plastic bags provided by the supermarket, you can bring your own cloth shopping bag. 

When you use your own coffee cups or water bottles, you don’t have to use disposable cups. It’s easy! You have so many choices to help reduce the consumption of disposable products. 

Want to know more? Find out how to reduce your plastic consumption in 24 hours.

2) You can opt for a meat-free day each week

GVI participants in Chiang Mai enjoy a vegetarian meal together, in between their efforts volunteering with elephants.


Opting for a vegetarian or vegan diet can play an important role in climate change. You will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Your choice will also help save important resources such as water and electricity. 

Sound powerful? But perhaps you are still hesitant or undecided. 

How about trying just one meat-free day per week? Sounds easy, right? For just one day, you can make a big difference! You will help reduce carbon dioxide pollution by over three kilograms per day. You can also help save about 3,000 litres of water.   


GVI participants share a communal meal in Chiang Mai, while on the program working with elephants in Thailand.

3) You can take public transportation, walk, or cycle

When you ride a bike or walk to work or school, you choose a healthy lifestyle. Besides that, you help to reduce greenhouse gases. However, most people enjoy the comfort of cars, and that’s why they still choose it as their main transportation. 

When you’re focused on your daily routine, it’s easy to forget the long-term, negative impact that cars have on the world. Fresh air is becoming more rare and precious. Based on the research of the Environmental Protection Agency, our future generations’ health is endangered because of air pollution. 

It’s time for us to make changes to our daily routine. Walking and cycling are good exercise. They are also very good ways to reduce pollution. 

When you choose to take public transportation, such as the subway, train or bus, it also helps limit negative emissions. Another option is carpooling, which also helps our environment by reducing the number of cars on the road. 


Children in Kampong Cham, Cambodia, ride bicycles home from their English lessons with GVI participants.

4) You can choose to volunteer

Looking to make an even greater impact? As a volunteer with GVI, you’ll work with local communities on various projects around the world. You’ll be part of making a long-term impact on the local ecosystem, and contributing in a sustainable way to a global effort. 

For example, if you choose to volunteer with children in South Africa, you’ll help support local teachers. If you choose to be a wildlife conservation volunteer in Costa Rica, you’ll contribute to conducting research on rainforest reserve. If you volunteer in marine conservation in Mexico, you’ll help conserve the reef and prevent coral bleaching. 


A GVI participant collects data on coral reef health while volunteering in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.


All of GVI’s programs follow strict ethical guidelines, and are aligned with the goals set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Sound exciting? Check out GVI’s diverse and meaningful volunteer abroad programs. You will contribute to the world in a practical, sustainable and impactful way.

Liqian Yao is an intern at the GVI Writing Academy. The Writing Academy is a skills-development program that pairs development editors with budding travel writers. Learn more about the program here

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