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Upcycling For Social Good Volunteer Program in Portugal - Lisbon

Upcycling For Social Good Volunteer Program in Portugal - Lisbon

Want to have a positive social and environmental impact as an Upcycling volunteer in Portugal? International Volunteer HQ’s unique Upcycling For Social Good project is based at a local skate-park and gives volunteers the chance to help upcycle single-use plastic into sports items, such as skateboards and tennis racquets. This equipment is available to marginalized groups and children, to give them a chance to integrate into the local community through fun sporting activities. It also helps fight plastic pollution by turning one person’s trash into another’s toy!

  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from CA$1001 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, meals, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Upcycle plastic into sports equipment that helps integrate marginalized groups

  • Discover Lisbon’s buzzing city streets

  • Stay in a sustainable hostel only a short walk from the beach

Key information

Turn unwanted plastic into a force for good
Based at a skate-park in Lisbon
Dormitory-style hostel
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Fully hosted experience from CA$1001 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 2 weeks
Portugese lessons available in-country
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Practical volunteers who want to have a positive social and environmental impact on this unique project.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

The Upcycling for Social Good project offers volunteers the unique opportunity to engage with the local community while making a tangible social and environmental impact.

The ultimate goal is to raise awareness to single-use plastic while having a positive and social impact in a neighborhood of marginalized groups.

Environmentally, the project fights single-use plastic by turning 1.4 kg of plastic into skateboards, ping pong paddles, and beach tennis rackets. The plastic is a hard plastic that comes from bottle caps, and the project has partnerships with local restaurants and schools, which is where they collect the bottle caps from.

Socially, this project focuses on aiding the social integration of marginalized communities that live in the neighborhood. Having the project’s headquarters located at the skate-park democratizes access to skateboarding by allowing kids to skate anytime they want.

By engaging in this comprehensive project, volunteers actively take part in an initiative rooted in sustainability, ecology, social justice, and innovation. This project offers a profound insight into the interconnections between diverse issues and their corresponding solutions, fostering a deeper understanding of these intricacies.

Volunteers will be on the placement from 2:30PM - 6:30PM and duties can vary day-to-day, but generally include:

  • Separating plastic
  • Shredding plastic
  • Helping with the production of the skateboards and paddles
  • Assisting with the children at the skate-park
  • Raising awareness for this incredible initiative
Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #1: No Poverty

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #1: No Poverty

More than 10% of the world’s population live in extreme poverty, struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. Growth must be inclusive to achieve sustainable development and an economy that benefits all.

Why do Upcycling For Social Good volunteering in Lisbon with IVHQ?

As an Upcylcing volunteer in Portugal you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Fighting plastic pollution and advocating for the environment
  • Learning how to create skateboards and sports items
  • Gaining experience working with marginalized groups
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Immersing yourself in Portuguese culture
  • Exploring Portugal’s capital city

Volunteer requirements

Volunteers need to be 16 years or over to participate in this program, unless accompanied by an adult. All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.

Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Benjamin Fiddimore
27 Feb 2024

I gained knowledge about the extent to which food poverty affects Lisbon, as well as the huge volume of food that would normally go to waste. It was great to be able to help impact two problems on one project, and I do think that I genuinely helped the team at my placement to make a difference in the local community.

Sophie Williams
15 Jan 2024

I learned something about the culture in Lisbon/Portugal but I also learned about the cultures of the other volunteers I met while staying in Portugal. To anyone who is hesitant about joining the program, I would tell them to not be afraid to work hard, the work would be easy if they didn’t NEED volunteers but the projects desperately do need help, its not just a holiday, its work.

Valentina Velazquez
05 Apr 2023

IVHQ was very helpful to guide me throughout the application and preparation process for my trip. They also helped me find projects that were connected under my interests. The local team were both helpful and friendly. I knew I could trust them with any questions or concerns I had. Being able to see all the different creatures that live under the water, and being able to help clean up their environment meant allowing them to continue living a safe life was my favourite moment. I learned that even one small action can lead to a large change in helping the world and the people on it. If you are considering volunteering, go for it! Stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary, but you will find that it will leave a good impact on your life and teach you many new things!

Hope Williams
24 Mar 2023

IVHQ did an incredible in preparing me for this experience and the local team were great and always available to answer my questions. I loved the project and really felt like in my own small way I was making a contribution. One of my favourite moments was when I had a beautiful cat jump on my lap and fall asleep. This program has inspired me to do another trip! I want to continue to give back and do another volunteer trip soon. It is a great way to contribute while at the same time push yourself out of your comfort zone. Dong the trip by myself was hard but once I did it, I knew I wanted to do it again. It feels wonderful to travel independently and meet new people while giving back to a cause I care about.

Hanna MacDonald
08 Feb 2023

I think that IVHQ does a wonderful job at getting things organized and settled, and the support from the local team was phenomenal! The accommodation was great! Better than i thought it would be. I think my favourite moment was orientation where we got to meet each other and have a tour of the city in a Tuk Tuk. Very good ice breaker! The way people live and the way their culture is had the greatest impact on me. It is so relaxing and refreshing and also very eye opening. I would tell people who are hesitant about volunteering abroad that they would be missing out if they decided not to go.

Riley Thompson
09 Dec 2022

The ability to ask questions with someone from IVHQ when preparing for the trip was great and super beneficial for making the planning of the trip as easy as possible. The support of the local team was amazing and always there if you needed any questions asked. Being able to get up close and interact with the animals in the wildlife park was my favourite moment on the program. Meeting and forming connections with so many great people from all over the world had a massive impact on me. There's definitely something there for everyone so if you are thinking about volunteering, I'd recommend giving it a good consideration!


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

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Volunteer Abroad in Portugal with IVHQ


The IVHQ Portugal Program is located in and around Lisbon - the capital and largest city in Portugal. It’s a veritable treasure trove of history, culture, breathtaking scenery, exciting nightlife, gorgeous beaches and great places to eat and drink.

Portugal and Lisbon have risen from poverty only this century, so while it is a fantastic and affordable destination to visit, local communities are still facing the lingering effects of previously being one of the poorest countries in Western Europe. Volunteers can have an impact on these communities by supporting local initiatives which aim to improve the lives of Lisbon’s residents and make sure they have access to all of life’s basic necessities.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins every Monday, and volunteers need to arrive in Lisbon the day before their orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Lisbon Airport (LIS). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee, however, if you arrive outside of Sunday between 9:00AM - 10:00PM, your pick-up will incur an extra cost of US$65. Volunteers under the age of 18 are required to travel with written consent from both parents or guardians in order to enter Portugal. Volunteers under the age of 18 who require a pre-arranged visa will also need their visa application to be signed by a parent or guardian.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in either Lisbon. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in Portugal prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up from a prearranged location in Lisbon on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our Portugal team at the accommodation. It begins the morning of your chosen start date and lasts for a full day. The orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Portugal – an introduction to Portugal, culture and customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities, an introduction to project and placement as well as a tour of the local area. The orientation will also give you a chance to sign up for Portuguese language lessons if you’re on a Lisbon based project, and to meet other volunteers with whom you can swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Volunteer schedule example


You will have a morning, afternoon or evening shift at your placement and will work for approximately 3 to 6 hours per day. Please note that start times and daily workloads depend on the project that you are participating on.

8:00 - 10:00 AM Breakfast is available at the volunteer accommodation
8:30 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.
1:00 - 3:00 PM Lunch is served at the accommodation or at your placement. After lunch, you will continue your volunteer work.
2:30 PM Volunteers with afternoon or evening shifts travel to placement and begin work on their project.
7:00 - 9:00 PM Dinner at the volunteer accommodation. After dinner you will have the remainder of the evening free to relax and use as you wish.


Volunteers have the weekends free and Portugal and Lisbon are full of interesting things to do, see, visit, eat and learn.

Explore the old city of Lisbon and get yourself lost in the small alleys that are seeped with music and delicious food. Be sure to try the local pastry - pastel de nata and listen to traditional folklore music - fado. Lisbon is a vibrant city with many cultural and music events, you can’t possibly be bored here. If it’s nature you’re looking for - it has that too! Sintra Natural Park is only a short drive away and boasts wonderful castles and palaces. Come for a day trip to Arrabida beach and try the well-known local wines.

Volunteers can make travel arrangements further afield once in Lisbon, with the advice and guidance of our local staff.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers on Lisbon based projects will be accommodated in a dormitory-style hostel with other volunteers in Estoril which is a 5 minute walk from the beach. You can expect to share a room with between 3 - 13 other volunteers of the same gender however, male volunteers may share mixed-gender rooms with other guests if the male dormitory room reaches capacity.

Bedding and towels are provided, and there are shared western bathrooms however, they are not separated by gender. Staff will clean the accommodation throughout the week, however volunteers are required to keep their rooms tidy. Please note that there is a 10:00 PM curfew in place at the hostel for volunteers under the age of 18.

WiFi is available at the volunteer accommodation, as well as many cafes and restaurants in the area. To keep connected, the local team will provide you with a free local SIM card that you can activate to purchase mobile data for an unlocked mobile phone.

Private double rooms in the hostel, with the use of the communal bathrooms, are available at an additional cost of US$384 (approximately CA$545). These can be purchased as an add-on via your MyIVHQ account once you have registered for the Portugal program. All accommodation upgrades are subject to availability.

Volunteers travel to their placements from the volunteer accommodation via public transport or by foot.


Portuguese food is delicious and during your time in Portugal, you will be sure to receive some incredible treats.

Most volunteers are provided with three meals a day. Breakfast is self-serve at the accommodation and generally includes tea, coffee, bread, cheese, ham, spreads, cereal, yoghurt and fruit. Lunch and dinner usually include local staples such as fish and chicken, as well as rice, pasta, vegetables, and salad. If your placement requires you to be away from the accommodation during lunch or dinner, these will be provided at your placement or you will take a packed meal.

Tap water is fine to drink in Portugal, however bottled water is readily available if you prefer and you should budget US$10 (approximately CA$14) a week for this.


  • USD
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week CA$1001 Equivalent to CA$143/day
2 weeks CA$1512 Equivalent to CA$108/day
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$467) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in CAD.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers on Lisbon based projects and on the Wildlife Conservation project generally find US$65 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses. For those on the Wolf Conservation project, we recommend a weekly budget of US$150.
  • Any changes or cancellations within 14 days of your start date are subject to a US$200 late change/cancellation fee.

Free-time experiences & tours in Portugal

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Portugal! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Portugal program.

Language Lessons
Language Lessons

Enhance your Portuguese language proficiency at the most affordable rate while volunteering in Portugal.

From CA$447
Language Lessons
Language Lessons

Enhance your Portuguese language proficiency at the most affordable rate while volunteering in Portugal.

From CA$447

Portuguese language lessons

Portuguese language lessons are available to all Lisbon-based volunteers, regardless of your Portuguese language ability. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these lessons to allow you to work and communicate more effectively during your program.

If you would like to sign up for the language lessons, simply let your Program Manager know and they will be happy to help you arrange them. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Portuguese and are taught by a professional Portuguese language teacher. Classes run Monday through Friday, the cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers. They are paid for prior to your arrival and the local team will help you arrange a suitable time to complete your lessons during your program orientation.

10 Hours: US$315 (approximately CA$447)
20 Hours: US$630 (approximately CA$894)
30 Hours: US$943 (approximately CA$1339)
40 Hours: US$1258 (approximately CA$1786)
50 Hours: US$1571 (approximately CA$2231)

Please note, Portuguese lessons are held at the Lisbon accommodation and are not available to volunteers on the Wolf Conservation project.

Check what's required to visit Portugal

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Lisbon
Population 10.46 million
Languages Portuguese
Currency Euro (EUR)
Time zone UTC+00:00

Weather and climate: Lisbon has a Mediterranean climate with dry hot summers and mild winters. During winter, from December to February, temperatures are mild and vary from 8°C to 14°C (46°F to 57°F). Summer, from June to September, is dry and hot with temperatures ranging between 18°C and 29°C (64°F and 84°F). Rainfall is heaviest in December/January and driest in July/August.

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How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
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Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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