One short year ago, we published our “Earth Day Workplace Challenge.” We were feeling pretty celebratory because we’d made several Earth-friendly changes to our workplace and our workday habits and we were excited to share them.
This year, as we all work remotely, we wanted to share a few observations – and some meaningful and fun ideas to try at home – in support of Earth Day. We hope you’ll join us.
1. Turn Commute Time Into Fresh Air Time
As much as I deeply miss working alongside my colleagues each day, I really don’t miss the commute. Like many people, I’m discovering that some simple, quiet time outdoors – during my usual commute time – is helping me keep a healthy perspective. Whether you bike, walk, run, or just sit in the sunshine in your own front yard, try to savor these moments. If you’re quarantining with others in your home, get out there together and use this special time to spur conversations about nature and the power each of us has to maintain a healthy Earth. If you’re keeping any kind of a journal during this very strange time, try to add any new observations that come your way about your relationship with – and impact on – the air, the Earth, and the nature around you.
2. Choose One Environmental Topic and Learn More About It
Sometimes, the climate and environmental messages and warnings we receive can feel so huge, so dire, that we’re tempted to just turn away, feeling helpless to do anything about it. So, what if you just stopped trying to tackle the whole “big picture” for a while? Keeping in mind that some of the greatest transformations begin with one small step, you can choose just one environmental subject and read up on it (making sure your topic is narrow enough and interesting enough to keep you motivated and engaged, but not overwhelmed). That one decision – to become more educated about one Earth Day related matter -- is, in itself, an act of community service. That’s what many community service leaders say and it sure makes sense to me. Once we better understand key elements of a problem (like causes, effects, and solutions) we’re better equipped to change our choices and habits. We also end up spreading our newfound knowledge to family members, friends, and others.
3. Bee the Change
Here are two super-gratifying – and timely – ways to make a difference and enjoy the breathtaking results as they unfold in your own yard. It involves making a few small-but-impactful changes to your lawn and gardening habits (and, perhaps, your attitudes about what makes a lawn beautiful), to help two vital Minnesota pollinators.
You can help save the Monarch Butterfly by doing just one thing: allowing milkweed plants to grow in one patch of your lawn or garden (because newly hatched Monarch caterpillars can eat only milkweed leaves). It's incredibly easy. (Milkweed doesn't need to be babied.) For more information on how, visit Save Our Monarchs , headquartered right here in Minnesota. The lesser-known Rusty Patch Bumblebee (our Minnesota State Bee) is in such urgent need of rescue that Minnesota is now providing grants to residents who are willing to convert portions of their lawns to bee-friendly planting. It’s called the Lawns to Legumes program. It takes just a few seconds to apply but, whether you apply or not, you’ll find a ton useful, educational information on how to protect these critical pollinators.
4. Celebrate Earth Day 50 Online!
To accommodate social distancing requirements around the world, the organizers at earthday.org have moved everything online. As a result, this year's Earth Day activities -- "the world's largest civic event" -- are likely to be the most inclusive and globally accessible ever. It will run for 24 hours and they're inviting everyone to invite everyone to join in a day filled with "messages of hope, optimism, and above all -- action."
5. Carry Your Lessons Forward
In forcing us to move around less and stay home more, COVID-19 has made us ponder questions we weren’t necessarily considering before. Beliefs we may have harbored about “the future” have been challenged, turned upside down, left blurred with uncertainty. At the same time, this pandemic has reinforced our understanding that the things we hold highest and most dear are – more than ever – worth fighting and sacrificing for. It’s true that we miss the energy and rhythm and in-person connections of our pre-isolation lives. But these temporary losses have also reinforced our belief that protecting each other’s health and wellbeing is an honorable sacrifice to make. Likewise, this unplanned time of staying home and taking in the clearer, quieter air has reawakened a sense of responsibility to the one home we all share.
Right now, it seems both motivating and deeply reassuring to re-read a particular passage from Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. He asks us to look very, very closely at the famous photograph of Earth, taken by the Hubble spacecraft, from billions of miles away. It’s not easy to do. From deep space, our tiny but still-luminous blue planet is barely visible, almost impossible to see at all. “That’s home,” Sagan reminds us. “That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives… There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known."
At this strange and unsettling time of “staying home," it can be reassuring – and humbling – to see Earth from that billion-mile perspective. It seems like the perfect reminder to appreciate – and take care of – this magnificent home that we share with all of you.
From all of us at SkyWater Search Partners, we wish you a peaceful, healthy, and inspiring Earth Day.