Celebrate Earth Day: Continue Good Habits Developed Over the Last Year


On anniversaries, it’s only natural to look back and see the progress, accomplishments, and growth that occurred since the last time the calendar showed this particular date. In recent months, many “anniversaries” have brought us back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic: our first week of remote work, our first project completed virtually, and our first virtual visits with friends.

April 22, 2021 is the 51st anniversary of Earth Day. At this time last year we were at the height of the pandemic around the world: skies in New Delhi were clear, a mother goose watched over her train station nursery, and San Diegans spent less time in their vehicles. While humans have mostly returned to our usual patterns (like driving and emitting more greenhouse gasses (GHGs) and discouraging geese from laying eggs in vacant terminals), there are some sustainable habits we were just starting to develop a year ago during our time at home.

The following are some low-carbon habits brought on by the pandemic – let’s keep them up!

1) Cooking more meals at home.

When you cook at home, you have the power to choose exactly what you eat and where your ingredients come from. Homecooked meals tend to be healthier and produce less food waste than prepared food. Additionally, buying local food supports regional farmers and has fewer carbon emissions from transport than buying food grown in other parts of the world.

2) Taking only necessary trips and walking or biking when you can.

Raise your hand if you’re still taking daily walks! If you live in a walkable or bikeable neighborhood, turn your daily route into an errand run and feed two birds with one scone.

3) Swapping local travel for air travel.

While air travel isn’t going away, when it comes to climate impacts, it’s a big polluter. Air travel accounts for 9% of transportation GHG emissions in the United States. Per passenger, air travel emissions are significantly higher than vehicle emissions, especially with multiple passengers in a vehicle.  So, swap your in-flight movies for a road trip playlist and see where the wind takes you. If you are an electric vehicle (EV) driver, battery ranges are increasing and EV infrastructure is expanding! And if flying is the only option, look into carbon credits to offset the emissions from your trip.

4) Continuing to telework or work an alternate work schedule.

Limiting driving reduces GHG emissions, plain and simple. If you can effectively work from home, talk to your employer about continuing to do so. If office work is necessary, cutting back on the number of days worked onsite would reduce trips (and maybe even give you a long weekend)!

This past year has been stressful and tough for everyone, but by highlighting the good habits we’ve learned, we position ourselves to be more responsible consumers and better environmental stewards. This time next year, let’s look back on a year of sustainability, self-betterment, and a greater appreciation of this Earth we call home.