Ah, Earth Day. You may recall, last year we gave tips for hosting a worthy celebration. This year we thought we’d focus on the gifts. Of course, despite its spectacular mountains and valleys, oceans and streams, sunrises and sunsets, the planet of the hour remains a humble sort. No doubt it would like nothing more than for us to give to a good charity or two. Just so happens we found a few that incorporate solar, just to get you started. We’re not affiliated with any of them, mind you. They’re simply charities that focus on sustainability; charities that have earned a high rating on Charity Navigator. Even if you’ve nothing to give, we hope they’ll inspire you; we hope they’ll make you think how you might make a positive change, be it across the world, or your own backyard. All the better if you partner with the sun, to get it done.
Solar Electric Light Fund
The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) operates under a simple premise: energy is a human right.™ Since 1990, they’ve used solar to power their innovative solutions in more than 20 countries. From drip irrigation and microenterprise to healthcare and online education, the sun helps provide electricity to those who otherwise would not have access to it—changing lives and making way for a brighter future.
Located on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne, Vermont lies a National Historic Landmark dedicated to teaching a life of sustainability. There’s a lot to take in at Shelburne Farms—not the least of which is their “solar orchard.” Made up of 530 solar PV panels, it generates some 180,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. That’s enough to power 25 homes. They also have a solar tracker; and their barn boasts solar panels, too.
Tostan—“breakthrough” in the West African language of Wolof—seeks to empower African communities through sustainability and positive social change. One of the many ways they do so is through their SolarPower! Project. Through Tostan’s sponsorship, women from rural Africa attend Barefoot College in India for a six-month training program in solar electrical engineering. Not only do these women return to their villages equipped to install, maintain, and repair solar panels, they install at least 50 solar systems—enough to power a lamp, a solar lantern, a LED flashlight, and a cell phone charger for each home. And they train others to do the same.