GREEN SPACE: COVID-19 crisis has shown that people are capable of change

Now is the perfect time to create more sustainable habits

As we are hit with COVID-19, I have seen for the first time in my life that our system can be mended. Prior to this extraordinary turn of events, I felt as though society was fundamentally unchangeable; however, as every event has been cancelled indefinitely, from school, to spring vacations, to all social gatherings, and even work, our entire world has shifted in a matter of days.

When faced with an urgent, demanding concern like the current pandemic, we have proven that we can, in fact, change – as a whole and as individuals. Each person around the world has been affected by COVID-19 and, more important, many have changed their daily routine to help save lives, even by something as simple as washing their hands.

As the climate crisis becomes an ever-more pressing concern, the biggest question is, can we actually make the adaptations necessary to save our planet and our future? We have seen over these past weeks that we are able to make drastic changes quickly, when we find the cause pressing enough.

Climate action is a difficult undertaking, as the effects of environmental destruction seem distant and personally irrelevant. But in reality, climate change is the biggest threat to each of us and our society as a whole. We need to act now. As with the COVID-19 pandemic, we don’t have the time to waste. While the current pandemic will be responsible for many deaths, climate change could wipe out humanity completely.

The current climate crisis is already affecting millions of people worldwide. In 2018, 17.2 million people became climate refugees. In the past two years, this number has continued to rise. It is estimated that by 2050, over 700 million people will be forced to emigrate due to climate-change-related natural disasters. It is also expected that this environmental demise will cause over 1.2 billion jobs to be lost in industries like agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

While climate refugees will lose their homes, we find ourselves stuck inside ours, worried about our education and employment over the next few months. Imagine how much worse it will become if we don’t act for the environment now. We have seen that our current way of life is fragile and vulnerable to outside forces. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we did not have much time to prepare, but climate change has been a known threat for over 30 years and we can already see the effects through forest fires, droughts, floods and hurricanes around the world.

Fortunately, we still have time to alter our path to save humanity. As we are trapped at home, it is the perfect time to create more sustainable habits.

Investigate how much your family throws away. Look through your garbage each week and discuss the ways in which you can minimize this waste. Many things you will discover in your trash can are completely avoidable, if you simply think before buying. Make it a family challenge to reduce waste a little more every week. Check out my family’s Instagram familyfootprint___ and website, for ways to do so.

You can also take this occasion to add more vegetarian and vegan meals into your family’s routine, which is an excellent way to minimize your family’s footprint and spend some time connecting in the kitchen.

Take this opportunity to reduce the amount of useless materials in your home. Look through your possessions and mend and repair what you can. In the fast-paced society, we often don’t have the time to do so and instead continuously consume. If items are no longer usable, research how you can properly donate them so they can be reused by a new owner or repurposed.

At this time, we can also connect with nature more than we usually would. We can celebrate the cherry blossoms adorning our streets, or watch the branches sway in the Pacific breeze. We often take this simple beauty for granted, but it is exactly what we will lose in the face of climate destruction – along with so much more.

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing many aspects of our daily lives, so let it change even more, so the future can remain safe and similar. We have seen the power that each individual has on the world, so use your power wisely while we can.

Miranda Clark is a Grade 12 student at Earl Marriott Secondary. She writes monthly on ways to reduce waste and minimize our environmental footprint.

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