Earth Day is Wednesday, April 22nd this year. It’s also the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!
Typically on Earth Day, kids, families and individuals celebrate our planet Earth by planting trees while wearing “Earth Day” t-shirts (oh, the irony). Those community service projects won’t be happening this year, but here are some other things you can do:
- Stay home – don’t drive anywhere.
- Don’t dry clean your nice work clothes.
- Have a zoom meeting instead of traveling to an in-person meeting.
- Eat what’s in your fridge and pantry to reduce food waste.
- Cancel your vacation to France and visit the Louvre online for free!
You’re already doing all of those things, you say? Great!
If you are looking for things you can do to celebrate, take a look at EarthDay.org’s 22-Day Earth Day Challenge. Each day in April leading up to Earth Day, they put out small “challenges” or suggestions of things you can do to help the earth. Examples include, switching to green power in your home, reading suggestions to expand your knowledge of climate issues, and committing to Vote Earth.
I’m curious to see how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect global carbon emissions. I think most people anticipate that CO2 emissions will drop, but by how much and whether the change will last is anyone’s guess.
Emissions from transportation (flights, commuting, etc) will go down in the short term. But when this is all over, will people continue to work from home and have zoom meetings rather than drive into an office or take business flights to meet in person? Yet to be seen.
People are also reducing food waste by using up what’s in their fridge and pantries before going to the store to buy more. This is another upside that will hopefully become a habit that will outlive the coronavirus.
On the other hand, what about disposable products? Putting aside all the masks and gloves and other PPE that is being used these days (it’s necessary, I know), a lot of grocery stores and coffee shops are no longer allowing people to bring their own bags, containers for bulk items, or mugs for coffee. I understand why it wouldn’t be smart to have baristas handling multiple reusable coffee mugs, but it seems to me that reusable cloth grocery bags can still be used safely. I almost always use the self-check out, and bag my own groceries, so the cashiers aren’t touching my bags. In fact, I’ve continued to bring my own bag, and no one has stopped me. I worry that the progress we’ve made recently in encouraging people to use fewer single-use items will go out the window. After this is over, people will have gotten out of the habit of remembering to bring their cloth bag or reusable mug. Plus, there will probably be lingering fears and germophobia that will dissuade people from using reusable products.
If history is any indication, COVID-19 will be but another mere blip in the upward trajectory of global climate emissions.
Let’s hope something better comes from all this.