Beach cleanup? It’s out this year. So are tree plantings and other events where everyone gathers to care for the environment. But there are still ways to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and our communities even though in-person options are limited. The digital landscape offers accessible opportunities for everyone to help their communities and the planet — from home.
“The need for all of us to come together and give back as one global community has never been greater,” says Stephanie Dismore, general manager and managing director of the North America market at HP. “In the time of social-distancing, it’s about being resourceful and finding ways — big or small — to help others virtually.”
This year, as we face an unprecedented global health crisis, showing solidarity with the planet and kindness to each other as a collective is more important than ever before. The Earth Day organization announced they will celebrate digitally with 24 hours of action encouraging people to pressure their elected representatives, promote green spaces in their communities, and educate themselves with teach-ins from scientists. Donating when and where we can (for example the CDC has raised over $46.5M so far to combat COVID-19 and help fund medical supplies, increase lab capacity, and support vulnerable communities), and importantly, we can also donate our time and our expertise, whatever that may be, while staying safely at home.
“That may mean calling to check on a neighbor or friend, or finding a way to support a local small business, or helping to bring awareness to organizations that are providing essential services and making a difference during this pandemic,” Dismore says.
Here are six ways you can make a difference with “virtual volunteering” from home.
Take sustainable action at home
This year’s Earth Day theme is climate action, a topic that has inspired youth around the world to protest for a greener future. In an indirect way, that future is even clearer as the coronavirus lockdown has reduced air pollution by over 50% in major cities. To keep the momentum going, we can continue to move towards decreasing carbon emissions by following the 50 actions that the WWF provided to fight against this cause even after the lockdown. And while we’re home, the WWF advises slashing your energy use and CO2 emissions by turning off lights if you’re not using them and by switching to compact fluorescent lightbulbs.
Reducing food waste can also have a big impact. Some 40% of the US food supply is thrown out every year, the equivalent of $1,600 worth of produce per family, and rotting food in landfills gives off methane gas, which is at least 28 times more harmful than CO2. Reduce your household’s food waste with an audit, giving everyone insight into how much material is thrown out vs. recycled, and the types of trash your family produces most.