Simplifying is Green

I had planned to write an article about trying to be greener when it comes to the products you put in and on your body, the way you consume and dispose of goods in your home, as well as examine options in health care for being a little more green. All of this has become really challenging when we are going through a pandemic.
Natural cleaning products just won’t cut it, essential oils, while wonderful for relaxation and sleep, won’t kill this novel coronavirus, we are back to using singleuse cups at our coffee shops, and health care has become more wasteful than ever (out of necessity). Just the increased need for personal protective equipment (PPE) alone for both providers and potentially contagious patients will result in more waste as well as more laundry. So what can we do? Simplify.

We are fortunate to be in what looks like the third wave of this illness and our epidemiology and health care experts have had the opportunity to learn from how this virus has spread in both China
and Italy. Many of us are practicing social isolation, some of us are in self-isolation or “quarantine” after travel, while others have to work harder than ever to keep things running and more importantly, to keep things safe for the rest of us. This may seem like overkill when you look at the number of cases we have in Canada but there is good evidence to suggest that drastic measures now will go a long way towards reducing long term morbidity and mortality from novel coronavirus (Covid-19). We don’t know how long it will take and we definitely can’t fully imagine the impact it will have on us globally. It will end but things might never be the same. And yet. What an opportunity to make your life a little bit smaller. To embrace the quiet (ok, maybe not so quiet when you are at home with children 24/7) and look inwards at what is most important in your life.

What if we take this time to really simplify every aspect of our lives. Filter out all of the excess. Everything that doesn’t serve us. Excess stuff, excess stress, excess timewasted away from the people that matter
most, and even excess relationships. Maybe we will come out of this with even more appreciation for our communities - both locally and globally - and focus on making changes that will benefit all of us. Consider putting your travel dollars into your own province and country and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. I don’t mean never getting onto an airplane again but maybe we can become more mindful and intentional about it instead of jetting off by plane several times a year.

Maybe we go through the next weeks and months with less (but for most of us, not truly limited) resources, both financial and more practical and we learn from it. We learn to be more resourceful, we learn what we can live without in order to save money, we learn how to make nutritious food from what is in our freezer and our pantry, we even learn about alternatives to toilet paper if we have to. If we are truly struggling to feed ourselves and our family, to keep shelter over our heads, to pay our bills, maybe we learn how to ask for help and just maybe those of us who have extra to give, learn to seek out opportunities to help our neighbours.

Maybe we take this time (and so many of us will have an abundance of time) to really work on our closest relationships, both in person and over the phone/Facetime. Social isolation does not mean that we can’t have contact with people. Please maintain contact with people. We need to look after our mental health and maybe this will bring us closer to our families and friends. Maybe we will really learn about human kindness. About compassion. About gratitude.

Maybe, though, what is most important is that we make it through this (and the vast majority of us will make it through this) and things will never be the same. We will be more resilient, we will perhaps understand the struggles of the generations before us a little bit better, and we may be better prepared for what will really become our biggest challenge; facing the climate crisis. We will learn that we are capable of big changes, of sudden changes, of having the world as we know it turned on its head and we will apply that knowledge to make those drastic changes to save ourselves from ourselves.

In the coming weeks and months, please stay safe. Get advice from reputable sources (primarily local health authorities) and not from the nightly news from a different country. Please follow the recommendations and keep the most vulnerable safe. We need them. Please manage your stress and try not to panic as it will impact your immunity as well as your mental health. We will get through this.