Happy Earth Day everyone! This year’s Earth Day celebrations are going to a look a lot different than past years. However, during these trying and difficult times, it is important to find reasons to celebrate and invite joy into our lives. Today our cause for celebration is our beautiful planet.
Over the last few months, COVID-19 has sent our world to a screeching halt. Our daily lives have changed dramatically and the implications this has had on communities and people across the globe have been devastating. But from this devastation, we have also seen incredible acts of kindness and sacrifice from first responders, healthcare providers, grocery store clerks, everyday citizens, and Girl Scouts.
This pandemic has also forced us into new norms—for many, that means fewer and more intentional outings, meal-planning for the entire week, working or learning from home, staying entertained at home, and much more. These new daily habits aren’t just impacting us, they’re also impacting our environment—in a good way.
Perhaps you have seen articles about how our environment has changed due to this pandemic and the world pausing for a moment. If not, here’s a little summary:
- Satellite images comparing March 2019 to March 2020 show that there is less pollution across the United States.
- Large cities in China are seeing blue skies and better air quality now due to temporary travel restrictions and closed factories.
- The water in the Venice canals has become so clear that you can see right down to the bottom!
- Due to less transportation, the surface of the Earth has quieted and is not “rumbling” as much. This has been measured by seismic stations across the world. Seismic stations are used to measure ground movements and help scientists detect earthquakes.
These are all wonderful! However, as Inger Andersen, the United Nations Executive Environmental Director recently said, “[These] visible, positive impacts are but temporary.” So, the question is: Now that we know we can live in an environmentally sound way, how can we continue these daily habits when the pandemic comes to an end? Here are a few ideas.
Plan Your Trips
As we just learned, reducing our transportation activities has positively impacted our environment. People are driving less frequently, air travel has significantly reduced, and everyone is staying at home more. However, this is likely temporary and people will no doubt be relieved when we can travel at our leisure once again. Therefore, we must get creative! Maybe you could travel to your local grocery store (instead of the one all the way across town). Perhaps you could bike to your friend’s house instead of driving. As for that big trip you were planning? Go on it! The world is a spectacular place to explore—we just need to be mindful of our impact while we enjoy our adventures.
Meal Planning = Less Waste
If you’re anything like me, I will go grocery shopping, get home, eat all my tasty snacks in two days, and then need to make another run to the store. With the current stay-at-home restrictions, I have had to think twice before leaving for the grocery store. I have inventoried my pantry more in the past three weeks than I have in my entire life. That being said, I am much more mindful of the trips I take and the food I plan to buy. And I bet you are too! This is something we can carry on in the future. Try meal-planning with your family by creating a meal chart on your fridge. This could also provide the opportunity for other family members to be the “head chef” and cook something they feel proud of. As for making that run to the grocery store? Try reaching out to your neighbors to see if they need anything at the store. (If you don’t know your neighbor, leave a box of Girl Scout cookies at their doorstep! Food is a great way to foster a friendly relationship 😊.)
Stepping outside and taking a breath of fresh air has proven to better overall mental health, decrease stress, increase productivity, and make you happier! Even just a walk around the block or sitting in the sunshine for fifteen minutes a day can better your mood. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that staying cooped up inside is not going to fly. We need to move, interact with others, and get outside. If you need specific ideas about how to get outside during this pandemic (and after), check out our recent In the Loop post.
Stay Connected to Those You Love
When humans feel a sense of place and security, we tend to be happier. COVID-19 has caused us to lean on technology to connect with our family, friends, classmates, and co-workers. Let us not forget how powerful a phone call or FaceTime session can be. Being united as a community can help us act as a community. This can powerfully impact our local environments and conservation efforts. We encourage you to stay connected and use technology as a tool for environmental stewardship.
As Girl Scouts, we are called to do good in our communities and be a voice for those in need. During this pandemic, we have seen countless acts of heroism from Girl Scouts as they have made protective masks, donated their Girl Scout cookies, written words of encouragement on sidewalks, and much more. On this Earth Day, we know that you will be a voice for our planet as well. Thank you, Girl Scouts, for being rock stars in this world.
Annie Johnson– Annie is a Program Assistant at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict with a BA in Environmental Studies and Psychology, with a concentration in Wilderness Therapy. She loves going on adventures outside, especially if it involves a canoe. Annie was a Girl Scout all the way from kindergarten through high school. She is grateful for the opportunity to work for Girl Scouts and give back in any way she can.