13 nonprofits working on pollution solutions


13 nonprofits working on pollution solutions

From factory carbon emissions to toxic dumping in our oceans, pollution is harming the environment on a global scale. It threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land that sustains us. Sustaining the planet means not only preventing future pollution but also doing our part in cleaning up the environment.

Here are just a few of the nonprofit partners in our network that are working to prevent and clean up pollution:


 Zero Waste Cities conference, Brussels, 2018. Photo credit: Zero Waste Europe Zero Waste Cities conference, Brussels, 2018. Photo credit: Zero Waste Europe


 Zero Waste Europe

Brussels with 31 member organizations across 24 European countries

Focus: Zero Waste Europe empowers communities and local stakeholders from across Europe to redesign their relationship with resources, to adopt smarter lifestyles and sustainable consumption and production patterns in line with “circular” resource management.

What’s happening in this space that excites you? 

“With new ambitious legislation in place, European countries are currently transitioning from a linear to a circular model of resource management. The new European Commission, due to start its 5-year term in December, has outlined a revamped circular economy action package and a new zero-pollution strategy as two of its biggest priorities. Whether these goals are achieved or not will depend on how local authorities adopt and implement policies on the ground. 

At Zero Waste Europe, we’re working with our members, local municipalities and community stakeholders to accelerate progress towards a zero waste, resource-efficient Europe. By providing and supporting the implementation of solutions that stop the tide of waste at its source, by preventing it from being generated in the first place, we are building a movement of empowered individuals and organisations who are driving progress towards a zero pollution future.

Zero Waste is a strategy that works on and proposes solutions to the drivers and pressures of pollution. Without the need for waste to be sent to landfill or incineration, we severely reduce the level of harmful toxins that are polluted into our air and soil. Zero waste models also help remove hazardous substances and chemicals from the packaging of many items, particularly plastic items which are one of the biggest contributors to pollution worldwide, by ensuring that they are designed to be reused and repaired, therefore keeping their value within a circular economy.

Zero waste is already bringing numerous benefits to communities across Europe today, captured and showcased through our Zero Waste Cities programme where we work with nearly 400 municipalities across Europe. We now have an exciting political opportunity to embed the principles of zero waste and zero pollution within key European legislation, but it will be the work done in cities and communities far from Brussels which will determine whether the warm words and ambitious targets set on paper translate into meaningful action on the ground that delivers real change.”


 Credit: Bettymaya Foott Credit: Bettymaya Foott


International Dark Sky Association (IDA)

Global: IDA’s impact has reached 43 countries worldwide.

Focus: The International Dark-Sky Association protects the night from light pollution. By promoting win-win solutions that allow people to appreciate dark, star-filled skies while enjoying the benefits of responsible outdoor lighting, they work toward a world where the night sky is filled with stars, and is celebrated and protected around the world.

What’s happening in this space that excites you? 

“For over 30 years, IDA has worked to protect the dark. Through the International Dark-Sky Places Program, the organization has designated over 130 Places, conserving more than 21 million acres of natural darkness. IDA is excited to now focus its efforts on lighting where we live, to address the issue where it is most prevalent and reserve the growing trend of light pollution. Luckily, light pollution is the easiest form of pollution to reverse; the actions we take today have an impact on our night tomorrow.”


 Photo credit: Montebelo Photo credit: Montebelo


Drip by Drip


Focus: Drip by Drip is primarily engaged in industrial wastewater projects in countries that face challenges related to the global textile industry. They participate in a global network, sharing knowledge about the connection between fashion consumption and water resources while developing the world’s first water saving fabric alternatives.

Nonprofit feature: Head here to check out our Q&A with Drip by Drip’s Amira Jehia


 2019 Global Climate Strike, photo credit 350.org
2019 Global Climate Strike, photo credit 350.org




Focus: 350.org is building a future that's just, prosperous, equitable and safe from the effects of climate change. 350.org is an international movement of people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.

What’s happening in this space that excites you?  

  • 350.org campaigns for: 1) A fast and just transition to 100% renewable energy for all 2) No new fossil fuel projects and 3) Not a penny more for dirty energy. 

  • We helped to stop the Lamu Coal plant in Kenya, which would have devastated the UNESCO World Heritage Site and set a precedent for more coal development and pollution on the continent.

  • We celebrated two huge wins to halt fracking projects in Brazil, keeping the largest shale reserves in the Global South in the ground. This summer, the State of Paraná and the State of Santa Catarina banned fracking from their territories, protecting the health of more than 21 million from harmful fracking projects. Since 2013, we have partnered with COESUS to ban fracking in 391 municipalities.

  • Lastly, 350.org has also been a leader in promoting fossil fuel divestment to spur investment in renewable energy and to take the money out of the oil, gas, and coal industries. We have passed the $11 trillion mark of total divestment from 1,118 institutions and nearly 60,000 individuals (about $5.2 billion), and divestment pledges have come from nearly 40 nations.”

National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

United States 

Focus: NRDC works to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.

Exciting work in this space:

More than 80 percent of Americans live in cities and suburbs—and this number is skyrocketing. Head here to check out the work NRDC is doing in cities, covering issues like how vulnerable communities across America pay the highest price for environmental justice issues brought upon by polluters, and urging governors to act on climate.


 Photo credit: PurNat Photo credit: PurNat




Focus: PurNat protects the environment by setting up and operating cleanup services to dispose of illegal dumpsites in Canada. They educate and increase awareness among the general public against various challenges related to the environment such as illegal dumpsites, pollution and recycling.

What’s happening in this space that excites you?  

Since 2013, we contribute so that everyone can enjoy a nature free of waste. Our team has developed a unique expertise to protect the environment by setting up and operating a cleanup service to dispose of  illegal dump sites. We have created all the tools to make sure that our planet is cleaner. Our team and our volunteers have pulled over 6 million pounds of waste from our forest and we are proud to say that around 85% of the trash was recycled. Our biggest cleanup yet had 650 tons of waste in one location. 

PurNat offers unparalleled, turkey corporate events. We have developed a unique way to create festive and effective cleanup events for employees. Mobilizing employees and accentuating their sense of belonging and pride are profitable for both parties. It also contributes to the organizational health of the company. 

We are currently working on setting up satellite offices in order to better serve other different regions throughout North America and Mexico. Our organization strongly wishes to educate and increase awareness among the general public against various challenges related to the environment such as illegal dump sites, pollution and recycling.”


 Photo credit: Adrian-Sheratt Photo credit: Adrian-Sheratt


City to Sea

International scope of impact with a focus on the United Kingdom

Focus: City to Sea prevents plastic pollution at source and connect our actions to our oceans. Their award-winning campaigns tackle the single-use plastics most commonly found on beaches, rivers and oceans by awakening active hope, championing practical solutions and inspiring collective action.

What’s happening in this space that excites you?  

“City to Sea has just announced the launch of a new ambitious pilot with retailers, independents and high-street chains including LEON, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Pret, Costa, Morrisons, ASDA and Waitrose to champion refillable solutions in a bid to cut pollution caused by single-use packaging.

The pilot, launched this week, is the first of its kind and a natural step in the planned expansion of our award-winning Refill campaign, which already connects over 250,000 app users with 30,000 Refill Stations across the UK where they can fill up their reusable bottle, removing the need to buy bottled water.

App users in these locations will be able to use the free Refill app to find out where to fill up not just their reusable water bottle, but also their coffee cup, lunchbox, groceries and even cleaning products and toiletries – preventing plastic pollution at source.”


 Credit: Neighbors for Clean Air Credit: Neighbors for Clean Air


Neighbors for Clean Air


Focus: Neighbors for Clean Air works to realize an Oregon where every community has clean and healthy air to breathe.

What’s happening in this space that excites you?  

“The Clean Air Act is under assault and our planet is burning while our federal government works to undo the US commitment to the Paris Accord- yet never before has there been stronger scientific consensus about the intersections between air quality and our climate goals.  In Oregon we are seeing an unprecedented amount of support for our work: Oregonians are demanding clean safe air to breathe in record numbers and our local governments are taking swift action. Our highest priority should be to reduce Black Carbon - the biggest contributor to which is diesel particulate emissions.  It will save millions of lives, and have an immediate and beneficial impact on slowing global warming. Here is a short video to explain.”


 Credit: Neighbors for Clean Air Credit: Neighbors for Clean Air



WaterLegacy’s work protects Minnesota’s Lake Superior, Boundary Waters, and Mississippi River watersheds.

Focus: WaterLegacy’s mission is to protect Minnesota’s fresh waters and the communities that rely on them. They focus on proposed copper-nickel sulfide mining, since this new and dangerous type of mining threatens Minnesota water quality, health, and environmental justice, and would have massive effects on climate crisis.

What’s happening in this space that excites you?

‘Despite opposition of affected tribes and over 110,000 citizen comments opposing the PolyMet’s NorthMet mining project, PolyMet received both state and federal permits. WaterLegacy, environmental allies and tribes have appealed state permits for the PolyMet mine to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. WaterLegacy also conducted an intensive investigation of the PolyMet permit process under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state Data Practices Act laws based on information from whistleblowers who suggested the process used to issue the PolyMet water pollution permit was highly irregular. In June 2019, WaterLegacy secured the release of documents showing that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff opposed the weak PolyMet water pollution permit granted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and that their comments were suppressed by state and federal political appointees. Two weeks later, the Minnesota Court of Appeals granted WaterLegacy’s motion to transfer appeals of the PolyMet water pollution permit to district court to investigate improper procedures. For only the second time in Minnesota history, the Court found “substantial evidence of procedural irregularities” and transferred to a case for hearing. In August, the Court also ruled that PolyMet cannot begin construction activities under the water pollution permit until questions about improper procedure are resolved.

 In September 2019, the Minnesota Court of Appeals also stayed (suspended) the PolyMet Permit to Mine and the two Dam Permits issued by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). That stay was extended after oral arguments at the Court in October. The PolyMet project is on hold, and Minnesota waters and wetlands will not be harmed until the courts make their rulings. 

WaterLegacy is hopeful that our work through the courts will hold agencies accountable and prevent sulfide mining from harming Minnesota’s water-rich communities. We are also working to educate and engage communities across the state to protect Minnesota’s life-giving waters and restore integrity to the permitting process.”


 Photo Credit: HEAL Utah Photo Credit: HEAL Utah




Focus: HEAL Utah promotes renewable energy and clean air, and protects public health and the environment from dirty, toxic and nuclear energy threats.

What’s happening in this space that excites you?

“We are excited about a lot of things, from the youth climate movement to our Utah legislators taking on air quality issues in an unprecedented bipartisan way since its an issue that impacts everyone. But we have been especially excited about the smart growth movement that's growing across the country right now and we are looking to implement here in Utah as our population is booming right now.”


 London Waterkeeper’s Theo Thomas staking a water sample  Photo Credit: London WaterKeeper
London Waterkeeper’s Theo Thomas staking a water sample Photo Credit: London WaterKeeper


London Waterkeeper


Focus: London Waterkeeper works so that all of the city’s rivers become healthy, flourishing places that people can enjoy, and so that the Thames is truly swimmable. To accomplish this, they question the reasons why London’s rivers are polluted, they defend environmental laws and challenge polluters, and they work to connect more deeply with nature in urban areas so the we can transform the way we treat it.

What’s happening in this space that excites you?

The arrival of Patagonia’s Action Works platform in Europe is a transformative event for grassroots activists and organisations. It will allow our message to reach many more people, who already have shown they care about their impact. Allies are an essential part of the work we do. There are many companies that claim they want to help the environment, but have ulterior motives. That’s why working with a company like Patagonia or a 1% For the Planet member is so important. There’s a level of trust and understanding already in place.”


 Photo credit: Save the Bay Photo credit: Save the Bay


Save the Bay

San Francisco, CA

Focus: Save the Bay protects and restores San Francisco Bay for people and wildlife, uniting the Bay Area to create a clean and healthy Bay. As climate change and pollution threaten the Bay, they lead initiatives to make the region sustainable for future generations.

What’s happening in this space that excites you?  

“The San Francisco Bay Area has been a leader in progressive policies to prevent chemicals, trash, heavy metals, and pathogens from polluting local creeks and the Bay. But in the face of climate change, sea level rise, and growing regional inequities, we need bolder, multi-benefit strategies that not only improve water quality but also protect vulnerable communities from climate impacts.

That’s why Save The Bay is encouraging cities to implement Green Stormwater Infrastructure – a nature-based approach to filtering pollutants from stormwater that also enhances urban green space, mitigates flooding, reduces heat island effect, and encourages walking and biking. A great example locally is Oakland’s Lakeside Green Streets project, which integrated beautiful rain gardens with improved bike and pedestrian pathways adjacent to the city’s iconic Lake Merritt. This project keeps pollution out of the lake while encouraging active transportation and greening the neighborhood.  

As our cities struggle with limited resources, multi-benefit infrastructure that benefits the environment and people are smart approaches to building resilience for an uncertain future. Save The Bay's pollution based policy work focuses on these issues by working with local and state governments to provide long term solutions.

To learn more about Save The Bay and the variety of work we do with Tidal Marsh Restoration and Education please visit our website savesfbay.org or download our guide to Bay Smart Communities.”


 Photo Credit: Matt Dowdle Photography Photo Credit: Matt Dowdle Photography


Million Metres

New Zealand 

Focus: Million Metres is New Zealand’s only dedicated programme for connecting local waterway restoration projects with large scale funding and resources. Million Metres is an initiative of the Sustainable Business Network

What’s happening in this space that excites you?  

“We've set out on a mission to restore at least a million metres of waterways in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Our purpose is to connect and resource people to accelerate quality waterway restoration, with the long term dream of seeing the people of Aotearoa united to restore the mauri (life force) of their precious waterways.

So far we've supported 51 waterway restoration projects across Aotearoa, fundraising over 1.5 million NZD that is enabling 55,000 metres of waterway to be replanted with over half a million plants and trees. 

There is a lot of work going on across Aotearoa - from new central government policy to many local organisations - to develop the framework and tangible action needed to restore the mauri of our fresh waterways. Million Metres is developing new technology to help connect people with donated or low cost resources (eg. volunteer labour, skills, trees, or cash) to those delivering restoration work on their land or in their community. 

You can find out more and donate today to a planting project at millionmetres.org.nz.”

Want to be the solution to pollution?

Visit our nonprofit directories to discover the work of more nonprofit partners who working on pollution and find ways you can get involved!

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