The coronavirus pandemic has upended our lives, but we can still exercise our responsibility to act for environmental health. As Earth Day approaches — it’s April 22 — we can use this solitary time to reassess our current habits and develop new ones that are better for the planet. Below are 11 ways to take action for the planet while social distancing — we hope they’ll stick, even after our global health crisis subsides.
Switch to green power
Did you know you may have a green-power option available? Not everyone can put up solar panels or connect to a windmill, but more and more electric utilities are offering green-power options from renewable-energy sources. Contact your local electric utility today — it will be worth it.
Support a political candidate
It’s election season! Is there a candidate you like or want to see succeed? There is plenty you can do while social distancing. Many campaigns have resources for people who want to volunteer, such as call scripts for reaching out to voters. Don’t know who to support? Spend a little time looking at their record on the environment and see if it aligns with what you want for our planet.
Volunteer for Earth Day
Sign up to volunteer and get email updates with the latest digital ways to push for climate action. Since Earth Day is going online for the sake of public health, every message will have ways to take action at home, interact with your community online and help solve the climate crisis.
Now is the time to get creative and break those food ruts! Try some new plant-based recipes — nonperishable foods, like canned or dry beans and rice, are easy to prepare and nutritious, and make for great leftovers.
Reading over streaming
Reading is good for the soul and planet. Reading easily replaces streaming with its carbon footprint. Since libraries are closed, opt for an e-book through your library’s digital platform.
When life gives you lemons … make disinfectants
Cleaning products and disinfectants are our best friends. Skip the harsh chemical sprays in favor of homemade disinfectant solutions. Sprays and wipes can be made from hydrogen peroxide and alcohol (just make sure your mix is 70% alcohol). White vinegar is a power cleaner. For surfaces that need to be cleaned — but not sterile — lemons can also be used to clean nonporous surfaces.
Share your stuff
Too many cleaning products in your cupboards? Share with family, friends and neighbors. Also, time to redistribute all those office supplies piling up. A nice side-effect is a cleaner, home office!
Being stuck at home allows us to take stock of what we already have, and what we don’t need. Those jeans in the back of your closet may be back in style. Knowing what you already have can prevent you from making impulse purchases and reduce your consumer footprint.
Do an eco-friendly activity
We’re all grappling with changes to our daily lives. Here are some projects to engage people of all ages that will help renew your spirit:
- Ages 4 and up: Reduce Bird Collisions
- Ages 7 and up: Make a Bee Condo
- Ages 10 and up: Plan an Invasive Species Clean-Up
- Ages 12 and up: Plan A Wildflower Garden
- Intergenerational activity: Watershed Wilma/Wilbur Prayers
Start a garden exchange
Start a neighborhood garden exchange. Post on neighborhood apps like Facebook, Nextdoor or OfferUp. Look for seed exchanges, or repurposed wood scraps for building raised garden beds, even dirt swaps. To ensure safe social distancing, exchange seeds, wood and dirt by setting up times to exchange them in a safe manner.
Keep your body moving!
Stir crazy yet? Social distancing doesn’t mean we have to stay indoors all day. Take 20 minutes to get outdoors and take a walk around the block, explore new trails or go for a bike ride. Many of these spaces allow you to connect with others from a safe distance. Spending time in nature, especially among trees, significantly reduces stress and anxiety, improves mood, energy, sleep and boosts the immune system.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.