Earth Day 2020 – How to protect the planet during lockdown

  • Seoana Sherry-Brennan

22 Apr 2020

It’s been nearly one whole month since the UK government introduced lockdown measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis. While we’re all slowly adjusting to this new way of life and discovering new ways to learn, work and communicate at home, there are some things that feel difficult, if not impossible to do at home. One of these is protecting the planet.

While we’re staying safe indoors – often with other family members – this can still have an impact on the environment. For example, an increased demand on energy providers as they strive to provide everyone with power to fuel their work (or Netflix binges!), a surge in cardboard that is no longer being recycled by your local authority as you switch to doing all of your shopping online… these are just a couple of the ways in which our ongoing presence at home could be having an unintended impact on the world around us.

So, to combat the sense of helplessness that some of us may be feeling, we’ve come up with some simple ways you can continue to care for the climate, from the safety of your home. These can also be helpful ways to occupy your mind at the moment. 

Join a virtual campaign

Physical strikes and meetups may have been cancelled, but there are still ways in which you can take climate action from the comfort of your sofa. On Friday 24th April, Fridays for Future (the movement started by Greta Thunberg in 2018) are holding a 24-hour live-stream on YouTube, featuring activists from around the world. There are also many petitions running online which you can sign, with many new ones geared towards the current pandemic.

Get behind a crowdsourcing project

Get together with like-minded people (while staying physically apart, of course) with an online crowdsourcing project. Zooniverse is a people powered research platform, where you can volunteer your time to help assist with global climate research. Similarly, Scistarter is an online community where members can contribute and offer feedback on a variety of scientific projects. 

Review your home energy consumption

This isn’t as complex as it sounds, just take a quick stroll through your home and keep an eye out for any ways in which you could be saving energy; for example, unplugging devices when they aren’t being used. Speak your parent or guardian about doing the laundry on a cold wash or even offer to do the laundry yourself (something they would probably be grateful for) as its been proven to be as effective at cleaning clothes but will save a fair bit of energy. And with this all this sunshine at the moment, who needs a tumble dryer? 

Use up food items from the back of the cupboard

Panic buying may have calmed down slightly since the initial madness, which saw supermarkets completely empty of toilet roll, pasta and tinned goods, but it makes good environmental sense to continue utilising the ingredients you do have at home, rather than rushing out to buy more, or placing an online order. Supercook allows you to input items you have to hand and will generate a range of recipes you can whip up. 

Grow your own

Want to flex those green fingers? Order a variety of produce seeds online and get planting! If you don’t have access to your own garden or outdoor space, check your local council’s website to see if they have any allotments available which you could sign up for. Lots of parks also have community gardens which you can participate in. 

Look after yourself first!

The well-known advice to ‘put on your own oxygen mask before trying to apply someone else’s’ also applies here; before you try to support environmental or climate causes, make sure your own health – physical and mental – is protected. Take some time each day to evaluate how you are feeling and, if there are any particular stressors or things causing you worry, talk to someone you trust about how you can manage these. Stay safe! 

What ways are you helping the planet while you’re staying at home?