Earth 2020 has a gravitas and import that the day has not held in past years. It’s not just that it’s the 50th anniversary – yes, it really is. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 with rallies in major cities, intended as a day to teach children the importance of being kind to our Earth. Until recently, Earth Day was filled with cute images of globes personified with smiles and feet, and commemorated with many trees being planted – all admirable events.
While the Covid-19 toll this year and subsequent lockdown has been real and extreme, there are some important lessons for us about our environment and our treatment of the Earth; lessons that can help us all live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives in greater sync with our Earth.
Work from Home and Drive Less
The shelter-at-home and social distancing regulations in many states have forced people to do something never before thought possible: stop driving. For non-essential employees, companies have had to change policy and develop new protocols to enable work from home. Other companies with essential workers are finding new creative ways to distance employees by creating teams that are rotated weekly in and out of the office.
Environmentally, the results of not driving have huge air quality and health benefits. California traffic volume has decreased by over 50%(2). The Los Angeles basin, where the term smog was invented, has enjoyed the longest period of good air quality days since 1995, according to a UCLA researcher, and now has some of the best air quality in the world.(3)
And an even deeper psychological shift has happened. An immediate work/home balance has been created that American workers have been demanding for decades. This means quality time has increased with kids, significant others, and fur families giving everyone greater happiness. Families are getting back outside together, and that includes dogs being walked more than than ever! Don’t forget to pick up after your dog with earth-friendly, biobased The Original Poop Bags found at www.poopbags.com!
Be Thoughtful about Conserving Food…and Toilet Paper!
If we grew up with family members who were raised in the Great Depression, many of us remember their vigilance as they made second meals out of leftovers, reused aluminum foil, and let down the hems of clothing for growing kids. But over the last fifty years, with the excesses created by world-wide supply chain and inexpensive options, Americans have created a disposable culture, preferring to over-buy and throw out unused food or buy new clothes instead of mending or adjusting a hem.
Over the past four weeks, we have learned once again to use what we have in our homes; to trade recipes to vary meal plans, and use leftovers in soups and casseroles. We have gone back to the “two-sheets” of TP rule, because the supply can’t keep up with the demand – and we have been OK!
The sale of plant seeds is up – Americans are planting gardens! Why? Because now that they are working from home, they have the time, and they want to ensure they have the produce they want right in their backyard.
And yes, we have been folding up aluminum foil after it has been used, and storing it back in the drawer for a second and even third use.
Support Local Small Business
We all have a family member, neighbor or friend who is a small business owner, and is suffering right now due to required business closures. It’s so critical to support these businesses in any way possible. That means asking for no-contact curbside pickup, delivery or buying giftcards for use in the future, to help them with their continued cash flow.
The role small business plays in the environment can not be overstated. By supporting the local community, their very presence gives the community a local place to shop and work (less driving and commuting). If the products sold are grown or produced locally, there is less carbon emission from product being trucked in. Typically, there is greater control over the use of pesticides and the labeling of produce and fruits as organic.
And, you are supporting your friends, family and neighbors – we are all in this together.
Living in Unison with Nature
Fewer people, less traffic and better air quality means that animals are reclaiming land that was once theirs. You’ll probably have noticed a pleasant increase in bird song at dawn and rabbits cavorting on your lawn at twilight.
For some, the animal presence in their backyard is even more obvious. In Brazil, along the northeast coast, baby turtles who hatch on the beaches, usually killed by people or pets, are making their way to the water by the hundreds, instead of the usual 2 out a 1000 surviving. A mountain lion is spotted sleeping in a tree-top in downtown Boulder. Wolves are wandering through the major roads in Yellowstone Park and whales are swimming unencumbered into Mediterranean shipping channels. Coyotes lope down Market Street in San Francisco in broad daylight. (3)
These animals all play their own necessary role in stabilizing the environment. Each species has their own purpose, and without one, the cycle breaks down. We need to work harder to ensure they know they are welcome and can co-exist with us.
When the shelter-at-home bans are lifted and we have the ability to return to “normal,” it will be up to us to decide which parts of our previous life we want to resume. With any luck for the Earth, this Earth Day 2020, we will decide to hold onto some of the environmentally-focused habits we have created over this time, and do our own small part to make the Earth better. #bettertogether
For more great eco-friendly tips, check out Rover's A Guide to Eco-Friendly Pet Parenting!
- (2) Department of Transportation, April 5
- Washington Post, Terrence McCoy, As Coronavirus send humans indoors, wild animals stake back what was once theirs, April 15, 2020