This Earth Day, we’re look around with new eyes

Esther is a 14 year old #iwill Ambassador, as well as being an Action for Conservation Ambassador. 

By being trapped inside, are we more appreciative of the world around us?

Pretty much every morning now, I’ll wake up and use my daily exercise to go on a run. And though I’m not running marathons, I  do now have a little more time to go on longer runs at the local park, down the canal, or the river Bollin near my house. On the days when I don’t go for a run with my family, we go for an evening walk, a way to get out of the confinement of the house and take a look at the world around us. 

However far or wherever we go, I tend to find that I’m taking more notice of the space around me. That, by taking a step back from the busy and bustling world, I have gained more of a sense of how wonderful our environment is. The curiosity in me has been somewhat restored and I seem to be looking around with new eyes, eager to soak in every detail before heading back into my home for the rest of the day.

I also like to listen out for the sounds of nature, which is why I’m taking part in “Sounds of the Forest”, a project to create a beautiful soundmap bringing together the world’s woodlands.

I say all of this counting my lucky stars. I am hugely grateful to have a garden, so even though I’m at home, I still get fresh air and sunshine when I want it, which is so much more than lots of people. 

And yet, it still feels so indulgent when I step through my front door every day to be met with a breeze on my face and a couple of other smiling faces across the street or further along the pavement, something I never used to take notice of on my daily walks to school, or my quick morning jogs with my Mum.

And this new awareness that we’ve gained is, I believe, more vital than we will ever understand. If we go back into the world in the months and years to come, when hopefully our society has somewhat recovered from the devastation we are experiencing and facing, with this consciousness about the environment, perhaps we will all, including myself, try just a little bit harder to protect this beautiful planet. 

This is why this is such an important time. What we choose to do right now and in the near future will, more than ever, help decide the fate of the Earth, for better or for worse. Maybe stepping back is ultimately what we needed, even if the reason we have to is absolutely awful. We needed to gain a new perspective on what we are doing and also regain a love for the Earth that lies around us.

When I look back even just little more than a month ago, I was still at school every day, in cramped assemblies and classrooms, exercising as much as I pleased. And now that reality seems so, so far from our new day to day lives. How quickly we have all adapted to this new norm, with every meeting etc moving online and (almost) all of us keeping indoors as much as we can. 

I myself have moved my monthly eco-group meetings onto Zoom and am really excited to be attending the online school strikes on Earth Day. Certainly from my perspective, doing all of these things before would have felt like a huge effort, and really hard to set up- yet now it seems just like a normal part of our day to day lives. It definitely feels like after all of this, lots of things will move online for good, as now we know how simple it is to organise. And while, of course, online conferencing was a thing before this crisis, I think that we’ve all used it a lot more recently. 

Ultimately, the sheer accessibility of all of this, from online meetings to my schoolwork moving online, surely proves how quickly we adapt as a species. If only we would apply this and treat the climate emergency like the crisis that it is perhaps we would quickly adapt to a world in the midst of the green revolution.

I do think that this has proved something to us all that we weren’t too sure on before: how swiftly we could change our ways if absolutely necessary; as Darwin laid out in the Origin of the Species, ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’ That quote has never felt more poignant to me than right now.

I hope that when we do go back to our normal lives we’ll not only look at the environment more gratefully, but also keep the sense of community that seems to have built more than ever over this period. It’s been so lovely when myself and my family go out and clap for the NHS on a Thursday to be met with the applause ringing from the other houses on our street, or even just the smiles and conversations on our morning runs from other members of the community around us that wouldn’t have been exchanged before. 

And perhaps we will take with us that awareness of the space around us; looking up at our planet, instead of at the pavement. Maybe, by reducing the time that we spend outside, this time is made more precious, both right now and in the months and years to come.