Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and the 4.5 billionth birthday of the actual planet Earth (technically 4.543 billion, but round numbers are nicer). Clearly, it’s taken a loooooong time to get some respect :).
Since the first eco-friendly festivity on April 22, 1970, Earth Day has gained momentum around the globe. Now, more than ever, the planet we share could use a little love, kindness and celebration. Here at UHN, led by the Energy & Environment Department and the 718-strong UHN green team, we will celebrate Earth day virtually for the first time.
So what can you do when you can’t gather?
One great plan is to go on our virtual Earth Month Scavenger Hunt, open till the end of April! Yes, you can win prizes for participating, but it’s also just fun to play.
To take Earth Day beyond the day (which is kinda, totally, the whole point), here’s our list of climate friendly actions anyone can do (note the slight pause on reusables while shops accommodate the pandemic). We’ve grouped them for easy reading:
Starting with ‘Social‘, we can translate our ability to act together for Covid-19 and act for Climate when we rebuild the economy. Why not build it better while we have the chance?
One small bright spot is that people are flying and driving so much less that our air is noticeably fresher and cleaner. India, last year’s unfortunate winner of “most polluted air on earth”, has seen blue skies in Delhi for the first time in ages!
And if you were nervous to bike on Toronto’s crowded streets, biking in the pandemic is a surprising joy! Few cars on the road, easy to keep 2 meters away, and hands on the handlebars means you can’t touch your face :).
Back to the actions, energy is a biggie, especially if you are at home. My Eureka moment was when I stopped overriding my ecobee and just reprogrammed it to stay warm during the day but go down at night. Looking forward to the day I can re-reprogram it, but am happy to wait till it is safe.
We’ll need to take a pause on #15 until after the pandemic, but there is something we can do when ordering take-out or delivery. Tell them to HOLD THE CUTLERY & STRAWS. We don’t need disposables if we are eating at home.
Now is a great time to do #16! As long as you have a window, you can grow something to eat. That might make it easier to follow #13 instead of diving head first into a party-sized-bag of kettle chips :).
Now that we need to minimize our shopping trips, reducing has gained some SERIOUS momentum. Reducing consumption can stretch your groceries out days further. Now is also a great time to become a champion recycler and learn the rules wherever you are.
This one’s all about putting your money where your mouth is. Speaking of where we put money, now is a really good time to divest from fossil fuels, and remember that there are MAJOR benefits (yes, financial too) to acting on climate.
Finally, though we’ve seen a lot of people behaving badly in the news, some people have been absolutely amazing. A special shout out to the +70 members of TeamUHN that volunteered to work at Long Term Care Centres that desperately needed them. Inspiring! Gives me hope.
Happy Earth Day everyone! Be green and be well.