Hampton Roads Planning District CommissionHRPDCVA
Click Home » News » Environmental Education News » Earth Day Opinion Editorial: Celebrating Earth Day in the Age of Coronavirus
Earth Day Opinion Editorial: Celebrating Earth Day in the Age of Coronavirus

Earth Day Opinion Editorial: Celebrating Earth Day in the Age of Coronavirus
As Published in The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press April 22, 2020

Our Earth has experienced heart-breaking loss of life over the past few months as Coronavirus has spread across the globe at a seemingly unstoppable pace. As inhabitants and caretakers of our planet, we have been doing our part to slow the march by washing our hands, staying at home and keeping a safe distance from others.

We’re anxious and yearning; frustrated and tired—not exactly in a celebratory mood for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22. And while askHRgreen.org, and the 17 cities and counties behind the program, won’t be marking this golden year with the fervor and public events that were planned, there are still things we can do on Earth Day—and every day—to achieve a cleaner, healthier planet:

  • Conserve water by turning off the faucet while you are singing “Happy Birthday” and scrubbing your hands.
  • Keep up with your recycling efforts; this service hasn’t stopped!
  • Be conscientious of what you flush down the toilet; so-called “flushable” wipes, paper towels and facial tissue are not flushable.
  • Plant a victory garden. Like Americans who weathered World Wars I and II, people today are planting vegetables, fruits and herbs to help provide food for their family and for the therapeutic experience of working in a garden.
  • Enjoy a “lights off” hour in the evening; dine by candlelight; and make sure lights and electronics are turned off when not in use.   
  • If you’re ordering a meal in, say “no thanks” to plastic utensils, straws and single-serving condiments.
  • Declutter your home and set aside the good stuff for donation.
  • Reserve a quiet corner of your yard and let nature do its thing (the birds will love it).    
  • And finally, for this Earth Day especially, take a moment to be present and contemplative in your favorite outdoor spot. 

In addition to these efforts, we should not overlook how the act of social distancing alone has had a positive impact on the Earth. Los Angeles and large metro areas across the globe have experienced weeks of noticeable improvements in air quality as employers promote telecommuting in mass. Consumers have also been forced to be more thoughtful. Everyone has had to conserve hard-to-find products such as toilet paper, cleaning wipes and bread, decreasing wasteful or thoughtless usage.

The simple luxuries we took for granted just months ago, like going out to dinner or visiting a museum, seem to have multiplied in value in this time of crisis. Yet even in the midst of these difficult times, we’ve stopped to marvel at the beauty of Mother Nature herself as we’ve clung to the arrival of spring and the promise of better days ahead.

Perhaps this forced pause from Coronavirus will encourage global industries, communities and each of us individually to make long-term changes that benefit our planet. Every act, no matter how small, adds up. To us, that’s what Earth Day is really all about.