The Earth Is Talking: Are You Listening?
I’m running along the Potomac, thanking the cherry blossoms.
Not out loud, of course, but almost.
I’ve always loved being outdoors but during this trying time, when so many of our normal comforts aren’t available, I’m even more appreciative of what nature offers. I’ve been able to slow down and notice the birds chirping louder than ever, the way the light changes, and the bold color of the buds on my lilac bush.
For the first time in—well, maybe ever—I'm realizing how connected we really are to the earth. And this realization is actually less comfortable than the alternative.
It’s easier—and much more comfortable!—to view ourselves as completely separate from the earth. Flowers bloom, seasons change, squirrels eat our tomatoes. Meanwhile, we buy strawberries year round, turn up the air conditioning, and reschedule barbeques when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
We always appreciate the earth. Of course, we do!
But most of us view the planet as something very separate from ourselves. We don’t necessarily connect our day-to-day actions with the way the sky looks or the animals we see in the park.
But all of that has changed in the last six weeks.
One of the tiny silver linings of our current situation is that the earth is healing. With the drastic reduction in manufacturing and air + auto travel, air pollution is down by as much as 60% in major cities.
The canals of Venice, Italy are running clear; locals have spotted swans and even the occasional dolphin. Ducks are swimming in the Trevi Fountain; mountain goats have been nibbling public parks in Wales.
Air pollution in India has decreased so much, people can see the Himalayas for the first time in 30 years. Los Angeles is experiencing its longest stretch of clean air since 1980.
It would be easy to look at these changes and think “Humans are the problem! We’re ruining everything!!” and descend into a spiral of anxiety and recrimination.
Instead, I’m choosing to reframe this. Our daily choices are more impactful and powerful than we realize. And guess what?! We can change our choices.
We can consciously choose to:
- Have the Zoom meeting instead of a flight-required in-person meeting.
- Truly explore our own cities, states, or regions before we travel across the country. Bonus: we’ll be giving our tourism dollars to our neighbors and friends!
- Find a substitution for that one missing ingredient before jumping in the car to drive to the store.
- Learn how to meal plan to use every last bit of the food we buy. Think: carrot top pesto, veggie peel stock, and almond pulp crackers.
- Use our own cities’ parks and bike paths! Exercise while getting to know our city! And zero carbon emissions!
- Look into lower carbon footprint vacations - glamping, luxury treehouses, or hiking holidays (that include cute B&Bs).
- Choose brands with sustainable packaging and practices.
- Work through our backlogs of toiletries + beauty products and not just run out on a whim to buy more.
- Sign up for a CSA and and directly support local farms and farmers.
This is a hard Earth Day—a hard season—undoubtedly. None of us would choose this experience. But if we can lean into it, let this be a powerful reminder that our actions matter and healing the planet might be more possible than we can even imagine.
The earth is talking to us right now. Let's choose to listen!
Now it's your turn: When life returns to "normal," what are some newer habits you're willing to bring forward? And which ones will you leave behind?
Here's to making every day Earth Day,