Let’s face it: it can be to hard to keep up with your 5k running, Tiki-torch-Nazi-fighting, volunteering, organic composting friends. You’d love to march, but doesn’t that usually involve standing for long periods of time, being out in the hot sun, and doing other healthy-people things? Gardening sounds cool- it’s sustainable, you know there’s no harsh chemicals in your cucumbers, and it would be great to rely less on supermarket chains. But your knees and hands aren’t up for getting out of bed, let alone pulling weeds in the backyard. Also, don’t you have to remember to water them occasionally?
I’d totally do a 5k for charity if only someone would carry me on their back.
When being sick takes up most of your time and energy, but you care about social issues and preserving the environment, you have to get creative about contributing to a cause that speaks to your heart. Here are some little things you can do that don’t require much time or energy while still making a big impact.
Assuming, of course, you have money. Personally, I don’t. But if you do, here is a great site that will connect you with some reputable charities that will gladly take it:
Purses for the Homeless
Step 1: Pull a couple of old purses out of your closet. Or new ones, like that ugly thing your great aunt sent you for Christmas two years ago that still has the tags on.
Step 2: Fill the purses with tampons, pads, granola bars, water bottles, Tylenol, band-aids, soap, and hand sanitizer- anything a homeless woman might need. You can get most of this stuff at the grocery store or the dollar store.
Step 3: Keep the purses in your car. If you see a homeless woman when you’re out and about, roll down the window and pass her a purse.
Variation: You can do the same thing with plastic grocery store bags.
We all love amazon.com. It’s your favorite place to buy nose-hair trimmers, pregnancy tests, and anti-fungal cream.
Hey, no one’s judging.
Just select a charitable organization at smile.amazon.com and then continue to buy all the wart remover, prescription strength deodorant, and copies of Fifty Shades of Grey you normally would. Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase to the organization you chose. Mine goes towards homeless puppies and kitties.
Schoola is by far my favorite place to send gently worn clothes. Malala Yousafzai, a woman so badass a bullet to the head only made her tougher, founded this charity to raise money for girls’ education.
Gather some used but still fabulous clothes, then print a label from the website here.
Fill a box with clothes that are in good condition, slap on the label, and bring it to the post office.
I always imagine Malala herself opening my box and being impressed by my impeccable fashion sense and generous spirit.
The clothes are sold online at schoola.com. Schoola donates the proceeds to needy schools.
Use biodegradable plates.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: When I’m not feeling well, I use paper plates instead of real ones. Even during the best of times, my motivation to wash dishes is decidedly below average.
Don’t worry, though. I use the type of plates that will sprout into a beautiful flower in the middle of a landfill someday (or however that works). Sheesh. I’m not a complete heathen.
You’ve been hearing about this one since the third grade, so I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
However, if you’re like me and live in a city without recycling pick-up or live on the second floor and aren’t up for carrying boxes, let your boxes pile up in the pantry. Then guilt your friend who works out into taking them to the bin the next time he’s over.
Call your senator or elected official.
Washington, D.C. isn’t Narnia. What’s decided there can affect your immigration status, your income, and your health insurance. Our elected officials are obligated to legislate with our best interests in mind, but they’ll never know what we need if we don’t tell them.
Think you’re too sick to talk? Just remember: when you’re deliriously out-of-touch with reality because of a fever or brain inflammation, your call will be that much more memorable!
In all seriousness, though: You might not have energy. You might not have money, a job, or your health. But you do have a voice. Use it.
Adopt a shelter dog, but choose a really lazy one who just wants to cuddle in bed all day.
You may think I’m joking about this one. I’m not. Three years ago during an especially rough fatigue flare, I glanced down at my phone and saw an email from Houston Poodle Rescue, where I had adopted my first dog. Too exhausted to do anything else, I scrolled through pictures of dogs that had been at the shelter waiting for their “forever homes” for two months or more.
One of the dogs had a stump where his front paw had once been. He stared bleary-eyed into the camera. Everything about him looked just a little sleepy. He didn’t strike me as the type of dog who liked to go running and play fetch.
Maybe I’d finally found a dog who could keep up with me.
I showed up at the shelter a few days later.
“I’m just here to look,” I told the lady behind the front desk.
“Sure you are,” she’d nodded knowingly.
As soon as I picked Wilbur up, he wrapped his little front legs around my neck and gave me a doggie hug. He continued to hug me for the full hour I stayed at the shelter. When it was time to leave, I just couldn’t seem to put him down. Luckily, neither my husband at the time nor our other dog objected when I waltzed in the front door carrying a dog.
Technically, it was only ¾ of a dog.
Three years later, Wilbur still hugs me everyday. We have many common interests, including lying in bed all day, sitting on the couch, sleeping, and snuggling. The three-legged dog turned out to be the perfect dog for me.