“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead.
Since 2020, many of us spent much of our time isolated indoors, nature became a place of refuge in our lives. For many of us, the heightened importance of nature became abundantly clear. Spending time outdoors helped us reconnect with ourselves, reduced stress from what has been one of the most unprecedented years in our history.
We want to look at some unexpected environmental wins that have occurred this year for this Earth Day. It provides us with a window into what our world can look like if we start living in harmony with nature and not against it. We’re not talking about some naive utopia but rather an ideological shift that solidifies the priority of environmental sustainability. We all deserve to live on a healthy, happy planet. What this year reminded us is that with some behavioural changes, anything is possible.
The ‘Anthropause’ Effect
If there’s anything to take away from the ‘anthropause’, as scientists refer to as an instant standstill in global human activities. It is that researchers are able to get invaluable information on how we are affecting our oceans. Only a few short weeks into a global lockdown, the oceans become historically quiet. Scientists get their once in a lifetime opportunity to study how our noisy lives alter the world below the waterline.
From studying undisrupted whale songs to the migrations of tuna and the development of Phytoplankton. Scientists have managed to link dramatic increases of the stress hormone cortisol in whales to noise pollution created by human ocean activities. These studies will help inform future ocean-related policy-making. It can assure we create a more balanced and thoughtful approach towards our relationship to the ocean and its inhabitants.
On land and around the world, air qualities improved dramatically during our worldwide lockdown. With cars, planes and industries inactive, the world was subject to clearer skies and easier breathing conditions worldwide. Parts of India usually blanketed by air pollution reported being able to see the snowy peaks of the Himalayas for the first time in decades.
In New Zealand, fossil fuel CO2 emissions fell at the same rate as traffic, about 80%. Wuhan, China, was the first municipality to report an outbreak of COVID-19. It is also the first region to implement a lockdown resulting in a 60% nitrogen dioxide reduction. Nitrogen Dioxide emissions are cut half in other major cities like New York and Milan. NASA researchers found that since February, pandemic restrictions have reduced global nitrogen dioxide concentrations by nearly 20%. These staggering reductions in air pollutants, signify what we can do to fight climate change.
Restore Our Earth
This year proved that things could get better with decisive actions. Significant systemic changes are necessary to bring about the shift in environmental health that our world desperately needs. Collective action inspired the first Earth Day back in 1970, and it will be collective action to ensure that future generations have a safe and hospitable planet to live in and grow.
The theme of Earth Day 2021 is ‘restore our earth’. It focuses on the work needed to recover from Covid-19 and repair the damage to the environment from the last few decades. We hope you consider any gesture of your own to give back to the natural world on Earth Day. It could be as simple as going to your favourite beach to pick up trash or plogging. Bring your cup to your favourite coffee shop and skip the disposable to-go cup. Educate and research on what habits to develop to keep the world greener. It can be as easy as watching an environmental documentary or listen to a Ted Talk. Even donate to an environmental group that works on issues you care about can make a big difference.
The Earth Day Mindset
Adopting an ‘Earth Day mindset’ can last long after the celebrated calendar day passes. Ensuring brands you purchase are transparent and sustainably sourced is an easy step. At Vitruvian Man, sustainably sourced ingredients are a fundamental part of our practice. We strive to create a circular economy, reduce the amount of waste created in our supply chain, and minimise our packaging to ensure easy recyclability. While we are not perfect, we will continue to hone in our products to offer the cleanest, most gentle footprint moving forward. We hope you will take this journey with us.