Earth Day April 22, 2020. A global pandemic has much of the world under “stay at home” orders. There will be no protest marches to mark the event’s 50th Anniversary. Instead, its founder Denis Hayes is taking the uprising online. With human activity at a low not experienced in decades, our air, land and waterways are considerably cleaner. Seismic motion and noise pollution have dropped dramatically too, allowing many city dwellers a first opportunity to hear the birds around them sing. Without cruise ships in the oceans, humpback whales will return with their calves, to quiet waters along the Alaskan coast for the first time since the last pandemic. Most of these environmental improvements are a result of forced mass quarantine, which means that the world will likely get dirtier and noisier, once the restrictions are lifted. But many of the eco-friendly changes we’ve made as a result of this crisis, can be continued well after the threat is gone. What follows, is a list of things you can do now AND later, to help Mother Earth recover, restore, and rebalance.
Support the organic farms in your community. With global supply chains under threat, there’s never been a better time to support your local farmers. Doing so preserves small farmland, and all of the wildlife that depends upon it for habitat. Globally our pollinators are in decline, so any business that is providing a pesticide- free haven for them, is one we should all get behind. Buying locally also reduces food miles; meaning less fossil fuel is used in transportation. Beyond the environmental impact of purchasing your food as close to home as possible, you’ll be supporting your local economy, building community, and strengthening your local food supply.
Grow your own food. An uncertain economical future and empty store shelves have many people thinking about where their food comes from, for the first time. As a result, plants and seeds are in high demand, with backyard and community gardens seeing a huge surge in popularity. This is another way to cut down on food miles and much of the pollution associated with industrialized agriculture. Planting a garden puts more oxygen into the air as plants take in carbon dioxide and then release oxygen. Using organic farming practices when you plant, will create habitat for wildlife and feed our precious pollinators too.
Drive less. When every outing requires protective gear to even leave the house and extreme sanitation measures to reenter, folks tend to plan their trips better. Gone are the days of running back to the store multiple times weekly sometimes daily, to pick up forgotten items. People are making fewer trips out for groceries and essentials, which means less fossil fuel pollution is being generated. We’re driving less for exercise now too. With gyms closed, most of us are walking, running, or cycling close to home. Exploring the great outdoors nearby will help plug you back into nature too, and humans in touch with the natural world tend to take more measures to protect it.
Use less paper products. Paper towels, toilet paper, and diapers, have been some of the most difficult items to procure during the pandemic. From hoarders to supply chain disruptions, humans have had to either use less of these items, or switch to sustainable alternatives. Tree-free fibers like hemp, bamboo, jute, and flax, are more eco-friendly options to wood pulp paper, which impacts the environment both before and after it’s produced. In fact, paper production is the third largest industrial polluter to air, land and waterways in North America and is the fifth
largest consumer of energy. Paper manufacturers also contribute greatly to deforestation, consuming 35% of all harvested trees. It takes 75,000 trees just to print the Sunday edition of the New York Times! Once it’s produced, paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste, and a third of municipal waste. Trees give off oxygen and protect the planet from global warming. They also provide vital habitat for birds and other wildlife. Save the trees to save the bees!
Are there changes not mentioned above that you’ve made during the Covid-19 disaster, which have positively impacted the environment? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments. Stay safe out there!