Article by Ryan Elizabeth Cope –
Coronavirus is (still) here yet we (still) persevere.
This might be our new, collective mantra as we welcome a new year with many of the hallmarks of 2020. Many are hitting a fatigue wall with the ongoing pandemic, and it can be hard to remember what day or week it is. And yet, there is much more to be hopeful for this year, as opposed to last. Thankfully, many of the shifts we made in 2020, like growing our own food, supporting local businesses, and helping out our communities (locally and globally), have stuck with us and have become permanent new habits. At the same time, we’re not where we thought we’d be a year ago, and so it’s important to be thinking about how to persevere.
With that, read on for five strategies to help keep your spirits lifted and your greeny-green mission alive as we enter into our second pandemic summer. Now more than ever, it is important for us to be keeping our cups full, so we can be of service to ourselves, to each other, and to this incredible planet we still call home. As The Green Gazette’s publisher, Lisa Bland, says, “It all adds up to fuelling the green flame!” It might be a murky time, but there is light out there.
- Celebrate all things edible and green. This year has felt like the year that will truly never end. Winter seemed… longer, somehow (even if it actually wasn’t). All the more reason to get excited about the return of fresh, green veggies, foraged mindfully on forest walks, or gathered from hard-working farmers at our local markets. It is hard to put one’s finger on the magic and joy that fresh spinach or first-of-the-season nettles and asparagus bring to one’s soul. They are, in a word: delicious!
- Go outside: fuel for resilient living. It has been tricky (to say the least) navigating a pandemic and staying mentally or physically well. So many of us have gone into fight-or-flight mode (including yours truly), taking on the world’s stress, hunkering down, eating chips. Good for a short period of time, not great for the long haul. But as the snow melted away and we are greeted by spring, the warmer weather continues to encourage us to get outside and reclaim our favourite activities, whatever they may be. Outside activities fuel us up to be more resilient creatures. By clearing the fog from our brains and going for a walk or simply absorbing sun, we’re preparing ourselves to tackle the hard work of living through an unprecedented time.
- Find awe and wonder in a simple seed (See “Good Green News” in the Summer 2020 issue of The Green Gazette). Last year, we talked about the amazing surge of home gardening, as people around the world transformed their yards, patios, and living rooms into veritable greeneries. This year, we’re getting granular and focusing on seeds. Seeds are magic. Anyone who has ever sprouted something (accidentally or on purpose) can attest to this. Seeds feed on nutrients in soil, mixing water with time and resulting in shoots that then reach for the sun, unfurling leaf after leaf on stems, and eventually bearing fruit. Being able to watch a seed make this magnificent journey from our living rooms into the warmth of summer seems particularly amazing—and comforting—in a time where so much is uncertain.
- Slow down to witness the pace of change. While it has been a struggle for many of us to stay in one place for over a year, there have been some very significant benefits to staying close to home. The biggest of all is that we are noticing the pace of change at a much more micro scale than in years past. We’re noticing flowers we’ve never noticed before, the changing seasons, even weather. And we’re getting to know our own backyards. We live in such a beautiful and diverse part of the world! Whereas before, we might blur through these things or look forward to trips away, this time is asking us to look around at what’s right in front of us.
- Narrow the focus (to stay sane!) In the age of COVID, attempting to maintain sustainability values has been, well, a struggle. There is more take-out packaging than ever before, masks are becoming the new form of street-side litter, and it can feel hard to even remember reusable grocery bags when our main concerns are staying healthy and alive. These days, little tweaks can make all the difference, especially when so much is out of our control. One such tweak is avoiding excessive food packaging, where possible. This might look like kindly declining chopsticks, forks, or condiment packets in favour of using your own items from home. Or politely ask for alternative take-out packaging options. In some cases this is not possible, but sometimes restaurants have multiple types of packaging and the switch is easy. -GG
Ryan Elizabeth Cope is a Kelowna, BC-based advocate for healthy oceans and healthful living. She blogs at Seven In the Ocean (sevenintheocean.com) where she shares sustainability success stories focused on plastic reduction and everyday earth heroes.