Earth Day (April 22) is a great way to demonstrate support for environmental protection and to honor our earth. This year’s celebration is especially meaningful, as COVID-19 has not only impacted people’s lives globally, but also the environment.
At the beginning of the pandemic, an article published in Nature analyzed government policies and activity data to estimate the decrease in CO2 emissions during forced confinements. It found that daily global CO2 emissions decreased by 17% by early April 2020, compared with the 2019 levels.
A September 2020 study examining the environmental impacts of the pandemic found that it significantly improved air quality in different cities across the world, reduced GHGs emission, lessened water pollution and noise, and reduced the pressure on the tourist destinations. Furthermore, the evidence suggested that the pandemic may assist with the restoration of the ecological system. However, the pandemic has also led to an increase of medical waste, haphazard use, and disposal of disinfectants, masks, and gloves. The burden of untreated wastes also continues to endanger the environment.
Another study discussed the positive impacts of coronavirus on environmental quality indicating that the pandemic-induced lockdown has reduced the environmental pollution drastically worldwide. So on this Earth Day one year into the pandemic, we can’t help but ask ourselves: how can we take this silver lining and continue reducing our footprint on the environment, even as restrictions lift?
Here are some suggestions that the study provided to help bring positive changes in the environment.
- Take public transportation
- Use eco-friendly products
- Minimize your use of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are nontoxic, nonflammable chemicals containing atoms of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine. They are used in the manufacture of aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams and packing materials, as solvents, and as refrigerants. They destroy the earth’s protective ozone layer, which shields the earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV-B) rays from the sun. They also warm the lower atmosphere of the earth.
- Adopt renewable energy sources
- Promote the reusing and recycling of waste
- Reduce water consumption
- Plant trees
- Use of EcoSan toilets. The EcoSan toilet is a closed system that does not need water. EcoSan toilets reduce water consumption, pollution, outbreaks of waterborne diseases, while converting human waste into compost.
Since the pandemic, many people’s budgets have become tighter, and travel restrictions are still implemented in many countries. With that in mind, here are 10 cheap, Earth Day activities that you can do while social-distancing.
- Change your bills to e-bills and online invoices. Just taking an hour to change all your mail preferences can save hundreds (and collectively, millions) of trees every single year.
- Pick up litter in your local area. This could even be a way to catch up with your friends, as long as you mask up and keep your social distance!
- Plant bee-friendly flowers.With the world bee population declining, planting bee-friendly flowers in your local area can help improve their population. Bees like: lilacs, lavender, wisteria, mint, sunflowers, poppies, black-eyed Susans, honeysuckles, lantana, snapdragons, sedums, and the pale purple. coneflower.
- Eliminate bottled water and other plastic-packaged beverages. This can help to save a lot of plastic that would, otherwise, end up in landfills and oceans.
- Update your light bulbs. Switching to an environmentally-friendly light bulb can save you a lot of time, money, and energy.
- Calculate your carbon footprint. You can calculate your carbon footprint here. Once you receive your results, you can brainstorm ways to reduce your carbon footprint for the future.
- You can attend a virtual event. There are many virtual events held this year to celebrate Earth Day. NASA is hosting a multi-day, virtual Earth Day event. You can find out more information on how to participate here.
- Support online campaigns by writing letters to your elected officials. Do you have environmental nonprofits you follow? They will often have petitions on Change.org or other ways you can simply and easily write a form letter to your local and state politicians. Take an hour today to show up for these causes—in most cases, all you’ll be doing is filling out your name and address, and press submit.
- Make delicious vegan food. Being vegan is the best thing you can do as an individual to mitigate the climate crisis, AND the best thing you can do to preserve the wild from extinction. Afterwards, feel free to share your vegan creation and advocacy on social media! You just may inspire someone else to follow suit.
- Explore the beauty of nature by making environmental art—poetry, painting, music, anything goes! If you’re an environmental writer, there are places that teach the craft of nature writing, like Orion Magazine (online workshop), Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, or Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference. Polish your work and submit to outlets like Peaceful Dumpling, Fourth River, Flyway, Ecotone, and other environmental publications.
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