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Coming Into Our New Normal

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

We’re slowly transitioning into a new normal as restrictions are loosening up. Many folks are going back into the office to work, heading to restaurants and bars, and just heading out in general. Surprisingly, COVID-19 has had some positive effects on the environment. For example, one study showed that daily global CO2 levels dropped by 17% during the early months of the pandemic. With almost everyone staying inside, fewer people were driving, and therefore, less fossil fuel was being used. On the flip side, we’ve seen an increase in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hand sanitizers, masks, and gloves, as well as single-use resources, due to COVID. In a sense, the environmental movement had to take a step back. As we’re easing back into our “new normal”, we should continue to strive to be more mindful of the environment and how our actions affect it directly or indirectly.

Essential worker in PPE handing out groceries to customer. Photo by Joe Raedle

Change starts small, and implementing a lifestyle change takes time for it to stick. Look at what things you can start to change in your life right now. During COVID, you probably noticed that you have started using more resources such as water. Water usage is another resource that has been heavily impacted. Practicing good hygiene is important and the CDC states that we should wash our hands for 20 seconds. However, some people may forget to turn off the tap while washing their hands. One way to conserve water is to not let the tap run while you’re washing your hands or brushing your teeth. COVID-19 has made us more aware of our personal hygiene, but remembering these caveats can help you decrease your water usage. These are just examples, and the main thing we want to get across is doing simple and achievable lifestyle changes. This way, you gradually decrease the negative impact on your local community and environment.

Now, things are starting to slowly shift into a “new normal”, and highways are starting to become rife with traffic again. With an increasing number of people getting vaccinated, people have been resuming life by getting back on the road, eating out at restaurants, heading back to work, and participating in leisure activities. Yet, people are simply ignoring our impact on the environment, for negative or worse. But, this can be solved by learning about the environment around us and staying informed about environmental issues.

Downtown LA with clear skies. Photo by Araya Diaz

If you’re reading this article though, then you’re already ahead of everyone else, so congrats! Educating yourself is a big part of being environmentally conscious because there’s a lot of information out there. For example, there are good resources online dedicated to teaching people about nature and wildlife. Some of these resources are YouTube channels like DeepLook and other related science channels aimed at teaching viewers in a concise yet precise way. If you want to create a positive impact in your environment, it all starts with awareness and advocacy.

Volunteering with local organizations dedicated to the environment and conservation can also help you impact your local community in a meaningful way as well. For example, here at OC Habitats, we offer opportunities such as restoration events and habitat monitoring. We also partner with like-minded organizations such as Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy and Project Grow to help them with their restoration efforts in Orange County. It’s important to note that any effort large or small is welcome and important.

As you become more involved and more of an advocate of the environment, the next step is to share your knowledge and passion with others. By involving your friends and family in these events, it makes a greater impact and makes it a lot more fun. These actions can start small, and evolve into something great.

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