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Solving Unusual Social Problems

If you’re at all involved in the social entrepreneurship world, there are several major topics you will have heard about. World hunger, clean water, preventable disease treatment, environmental care, social equality, and the like are huge problems that social enterprises are working to tackle. And the work happening in those realms is amazing, but what about the smaller problems?

As a changemaker, you may look around and wonder what problems most people don’t see. Maybe you want to go in a different direction with your efforts. If so, read on to learn about some unusual social problems changemakers are working to tackle.

Fair Trade Electronics

As changemakers, we tend to think more about where our products came from than most people do. Were our clothes made in some sweat shop in Indonesia, or were they made by fair trade artisans? But one industry we tend to forget about when we’re thinking about fair trade is electronics.

Because electronics are so expensive, it can be easy to assume that all the manufacturers are paid fairly for their work. But in 2012, a study actually showed that electronics manufacturers have the worst working conditions, on average.

So what are social entrepreneurs doing about it? Mostly, they’re starting their own electronics manufacturing companies where they can ensure their workers are paid fairly and treated well. You could also start a website that sells fair-trade electronics at near-wholesale prices, then using the profit you do make to raise awareness about this issue.

Supermarket Waste

If you’re like us, every time you clean out the fridge, you find some old bell pepper lurking in a drawer that you meant to use and never did. You have to throw it away, which is a waste of food and money. But it turns out grocery store shoppers aren’t the only people with this problem.

Grocery stores wind up having to throw away a lot of food, too. Like us, they’re estimating what they’re going to need and when it’s going to make it off the shelves. With products like produce that don’t have a long shelf life, they can wind up throwing out a lot of food.

Social entrepreneurs are tackling both the problem of supermarket waste and that of hunger all in one fell swoop. Instead of having to throw the food away, the stores can donate it to “secondhand” grocery stores (meaning they can write it off on their taxes as a donation). The social enterprise can then sell the food at a lower cost so that underprivileged communities can afford more fresh produce, and they can use the profits to feed the hungry.

Bad Tourism

When you went on that vacation to the French countryside a few years back, we’re willing to bet you didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the social impact of your tourism. After all, it’s supposed to be a vacation, right? But tourism done this way can have a huge impact on communities without benefitting them much at all.

It’s worth doing some additional reading on the topic, but in essence it boils down to this: when we visit a community, it’s easy to accidentally offend the residents. We all love a good museum, but sometimes those museums can turn local artifacts into nothing more than commodities for the tourists. And while tourists do spend money that goes into the economy, oftentimes it doesn’t go through ethical channels that get that money back to the people there.

There are several social enterprises endeavoring to change the way we visit the rest of the world. These groups work closely with the locals in a given area (often having several different destinations that they cover) to make sure travelers know the right ways to behave and spend their money to help the community. This also means the tourists get a more genuine cultural experience from the place they’re visiting.

Micro-Giving

A lot of people think that when you donate to charity, you have to donate hundreds or thousands of dollars at a time in order for it to make a difference. It’s also easy to assume that charitable giving comes only (or at least mainly) from individuals. But micro-giving, especially from businesses can make an enormous impact.

There are a lot of ways that people can donate money to charities by doing things they’re already in the habit of – opening tabs in a browser, for example. You can also ask businesses to make micro-donations from their profits, things that will cost them pennies per sale. For example, ask a baker to donate the monetary equivalent of a handful of flour for every loaf of bread that they sell.

Textbook Availability

If you are or were a college student, you have definitely spent some time in your career cringing at textbook prices. Textbooks are notoriously expensive, and they are one of the products that you can’t get a cheaper alternative for. So what happens if you’re an underprivileged student trying to get your books without going broke?

That’s just the issue that a number of social enterprises are working to solve. As a college student, you may also have found that you wound up with books you didn’t want at the end of the semester. Several changemaking initiatives are working to round up those books and either sell them at discounted prices to underprivileged students or donate them to students in developing countries.

Solve the Unusual Social Problems

As changemakers, our job is to look around at the world, see the problems others don’t, and find ways to address them. While there is no doubt that those working on tackling climate change are doing amazing work, there’s also great change happening in more unknown areas. We hope you’ve gotten some ideas and inspiration from this list.

If you’re looking for ways to solve the unusual social problems, or any social problem, check out the rest of our site at the Sullivan Foundation. We work to provide training and resources for budding changemakers. Learn about how you can join one of our Ignite Retreats for a weekend of igniting change.

How to Register to Vote

 As you’ve no doubt heard, midterm elections are coming up this fall in the United States. These elections will be among the most important in American history, and you want to make sure your voice is heard. If you live in the Southeast and you aren’t sure how to register to vote, here are the basics for each state.

Alabama

Alabama offers both online and in-person voter registration. You can also register by mail if you prefer. If you plan to register online, you’ll need an Alabama-issued ID, and voter registration closes October 22.

Arkansas

In Arkansas, you must register by mail or in person. If you register by mail, make sure you include a social security or alternate ID number and that you sign your form. You don’t have to indicate your race ethnic group or register with a party in Arkansas.

Florida

Florida allows online, mail-in, and in-person voting registration. Like Alabama, online registrants have to have a Florida-issued ID to register. If you don’t have a Florida ID, you can visit your local election office to register in person there.

Georgia

Georgia offers online, mail-in, and in-person voting registration, like Alabama and Florida. If you have a Georgia-issued ID, you can register online. If you don’t have a valid Georgia driver’s license or similar, you can register by mail or in person.

Kentucky

Kentucky also offers all three forms of voter registration, online, in-person, and mail-in. You need a Social Security number to register online in Kentucky, but you don’t need a Kentucky ID to do so. If you’d like more information or to vote in person, you can visit your local election office.

Louisiana

Louisiana offers online, in-person, and mail-in voting registration. You have to have a Louisiana-issued ID to register to vote online. The deadline to register in person has passed, but you can register online until October 16.

Mississippi

Mississippi does not offer online voter registration, but it does offer mail-in and in-person registration. If you register by mail, remember that in Mississippi, you do not have to register with a certain party. You can register in person at your local election office.

North Carolina

North Carolina also does not offer online voting registration. You can register by mailing in a voter registration form, and you do not have to have a North Carolina-issued ID to do so. The deadline to register by mail is October 12, but you can register in person at your local election office until November 3.

South Carolina

South Carolina offers online voting registration as an option, as well as mail-in and in-person. You need a South Carolina driver’s license with a valid, up-to-date address (the same one you’re registering to vote with) to register online. All forms of voting registration are open until October 17.

Tennessee

Tennessee does offer online voter registration, as well as mail-in and in-person options. You do have to have a Tennessee driver’s license to register to vote online. If you do not have this, you can still register by mail or in person at your local election office.

Virginia

Virginia offers all three forms of voter registration, online, in-person, and mail-in. You have to have a Virginia-issued ID and a Social Security number to register online. Voter registration in Virginia is open until October 15.

Deadlines

If you live in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, or Tennessee, the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming midterms has already passed. If you live in one of the other states, there’s still time; check under your section for registration deadlines! Election day is Tuesday, November 6, so don’t forget to show up to the polls that day!

Go Register to Vote Now!

Voting is one of the best ways we can be changemakers in our society today. Your vote is your voice in the government, so take this opportunity to create the world you want to live in. If you need more information about how or when to register, visit your local election office or check out this site.