This month at Postconsumers, we’re really helping you to distance yourself from the consumer machine by giving you a hundred things that you can do instead of watch television. We don’t think that everything that you do in your life needs to be altruistic – but it’s nice if some things are! That’s why today we’re focusing on activities that you can do that keep you away from the television and also bring some good to the world.
31. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen or Food Bank.
As difficult as it may be to believe if your needs are always met, hunger is a pressing issue in America. According to FeedingAmerica.com, one in six people in America experience a struggle with hunger. That’s far too many, and it’s far too easy to help. Pack up your donation-ready food, head to your local food bank or soup kitchen and give it away. Then, take it one step further by actually donating your time to help out at these institutions. Not only will you get a much better understanding of the reality of hunger facing so many Americans, you’ll be experiencing something much more real than anything on your television screen.
Pro Tip: With so much hunger in America, there’s no excuse for wasting food. Here are some tips on minimizing food waste.
32. Deliver Meals to the Elderly.
We’re going to stick with our focus on food for just a minute (we think you’ve probably figured out that we love food!) and suggest volunteering once a week to deliver food to the elderly. Meals on Wheels and similar services run by local organizations and churches provide a valuable lifeline of food and company to many of America’s seniors. We can pretty much guarantee you that at least a few senior citizens on your delivery route will have stories that rival anything you could see on television – either network or cable!
33. Participate in Your Community Garden.
We talked in the first article in this series about how growing your own food is an excellent activity to get you out from behind the television. Today we’re going to up the ante a bit and suggest that you do so while volunteering in your community garden. Not only does working in a community garden give you access to fresh and healthy food, it also gets you outside and social in your community. To be honest, it’s one of our favorite television-alternative ideas.
Pro Tip: Not familiar with community gardens? Learn more here.
34. Do Something with Kids- Anything with Kids!
The list of possible organizations that you can work with to help better the lives of America’s youth is far too long for us to go into here. Start with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, head down the road to Boys and Girls Clubs of America, take a detour at a scouting organization that supports your values or go big and volunteer at a school. The minds that you impact as youths are the future of tomorrow. Plus, if they’re doing activities with you that don’t involve being in front of the television then you’re breaking them of the bad habit before it forms!
35. Do a Charity Walk or Run.
It’s not just the several hours (or days!) that you’re walking or running for charity that you’ll be away from the front of the television, it’s also all of the hours of training that you’ll put in. In the second article in this series, we suggested that joining a training group for a run, walk or triathlon was a great way to improve your body and physical fitness while staying away from the screen. You can up the ante significantly when you get involved with a running or walking group that’s also raising money for a cause – or do it solo and be fiery and independent!
36. Raise Money for a Cause.
Speaking of raising money for a good cause, that’s always a great way to get away from the television. You don’t need much. Just a donation bucket and a charitable cause you care about (that is not yourself!). Post up near your local grocery store, coffee shop or bar when local rules allow. Anywhere that people are likely to have extra dollar bills as they exit the establishment. Every hour that you spend raising money not only helps your cause, it keeps you active and engaged in your community.
37. Clean Up Your Neighborhood.
It doesn’t sound like it would be fun to go out and pick up trash, but you might be surprised by how rewarding it feels when you’re done. You don’t need an organized effort to make your community cleaner and more pleasant. Just grab a trash bag, some gloves (don’t forget the gloves!) and a pointy stick. Your neighbors will thank you, your community will look better and you’ll be actively participating in living instead of passively watching it.
38. Visit the Elderly as Their Buddies.
Gone are the days when almost all children grew up and stayed close to home to take care of their parents. In fact, for many elderly in this era loneliness is their most significant health risk. Fortunately, there are a number or organizations, both national and locally run, that work to partner elderly residents with “buddies” from the community who visit them and interact with them. The time commitment is typically only a couple of hours once a week, but we bet before long you’ll want to go even more often so that you can hear the great stories.
39. Plant a Tree.
What the world needs now is trees, green trees. Go out. Dig a hole. Get dirty. Plant a tree in it. Feel good afterwards. So good that you’ll forget that you missed American Idol.
40. Visit Rescue Pets.
This one may be hard for your soul to take, but it will lift the soul of an animal in need. Virtually every animal rescue shelter and sanctuary seeks volunteers to play with and love their animals. You’re not committing to adopting or fostering. You simply need to stop in once a week and spend some time with an animal who needs company and perhaps some help with socialization.
Those are our third set of ideas for staying away from the television. Need or want more? Continue on to part four, where we focus on ideas to help you be more social.
Did we miss an altruistic way to avoid the television that you’d like to share? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.
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Photo Credit: Howard Lake Via Flickr