This year marks Earth Day’s 50th anniversary since its inception on April 22nd, 1970. Earth Day is dedicated to the promotion of political action and civic participation on durable solutions to change the symbiotic relationship between human beings and the natural environment to a more sustainable one. This year’s theme is Climate Action, encouraging nations to increase their commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, and encouraging citizens to demand greater global ambition on our climate issue. Typically celebrated in our communities, this year, Earth day 2020 will be celebrated virtually as we rally together as a planet against the current pandemic. Click here to watch Earth Day live with us!
While remaining compassionate and respectful of isolation’s health and safety protocols surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking this time in confinement to innovate and enable structural changes to further our healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Zibi aims to become one of the most sustainable communities in North America and, as we navigate our new reality, the importance of public health, local economy and community are top of mind.
The importance of community
Crisis situations can leave us feeling overwhelmed and can make us question the impact of our individual actions. Maybe you don’t know where to start. A simple solution is to not underestimate the power of kindness. Reach out to the people around you that are most vulnerable or affected by this global pandemic. Offer to run errands or share food and supplies with neighbours and within virtual forums on social media. By giving a helping hand to others, you are opening yourself to receiving abundance in feelings of gratitude, love and energy, which all contribute to your happiness and wellbeing.
Support local from your kitchen table
With the threat of border closures and supermarket shelves running low on supplies, food security has been a question for many Canadians for the first time in decades. Looking at our own pantries, are we dependent on international products that could easily be swapped for local goods? Food sourced from shorter supply chains and nearby farms greatly benefit our local economy and reduce transportation pollution. Signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is an excellent way to support local farmers and have fresh seasonal produce year-round, see justfood.ca for a list of local farms by region. Signing up for a CSA program is an excellent way of supporting local farms all while respecting social distancing by reducing trips to the supermarket. Just Food and Savour Ottawa have also produced a Buy Local Food Guide that highlights all local food sources, from farms to small-scale food providers, farmer’s markets and restaurants.
Small businesses are hugely impacted at this time and many dine-in restaurants have adjusted their business models to offer take-out and delivery options. Having a night-in with takeout can be a nice break from the ordinary all while supporting your fave local spot. Local businesses are important to our community; make a conscious effort of purchasing gift cards to enjoy a night out post-coronavirus, or order from local restaurants for an Earth Day dinner. Check out Ottawa Reduces Facebook page for a list of local places that focus on reusable or compostable packaging.
Keeping a clean house without harming the environment
Health and safety are more important now than ever. Practicing good hygiene, steering clear of large gatherings, traveling only when necessary and working from home when possible are ways we are collectively minimizing the spread of harmful contagions. More time at home means more cleaning at home and certain household cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other harmful chemicals that can be damaging to human and pet health. Click here for a list of 16 products that are safe and effective. Remember to read and follow the instructions carefully and open up windows and doors to let in that fresh spring breeze!
What are the greater impacts of the pandemic?
The effects of globalization are really being felt at the present moment, and the pros and cons seem to be amplified. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has also been lessening its emissions targets and standards in response to the economic recession. On another front, the plastic industry is now taking advantage of the current crisis to warn people against reusable bags and containers, claiming they might be vectors for contamination. These subtle examples threaten our progress towards sharing economy or zero waste initiatives, as well as innovative bills that will make a real difference, notably the 2021 single-use plastic ban in Canada.
On the bright side, globally we are witnessing carbon dioxide emissions plummeting down to levels last seen around World War II, considerable improvement to air quality in parts of China and Italy, and surprising reductions in noise pollution in cities and oceans. Nature is responding positively to our current society using fewer fossil fuels for day to day activities, showing us the extent to which our past lifestyle impacted the planet. As a collective population, we are learning valuable lessons on nature’s resilience, the consequences of our less-than-optimal lifestyle choices, and the strength and influence of our political leaders in taking effective measures to solve global issues together, which can all have a lasting effect towards the fight against climate change.
Without question, we are witnessing history in the making. Take this opportunity to learn about the nature and value of your needs, develop skills of resourcefulness and get involved in your community. In times of great struggle, we strengthen our character! Earth Day 2020 will be a memorable, historic moment that will see worldwide citizens rise up in a united call for innovation and ambition in order to seize the tremendous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.