Today we celebrate the 50 year anniversary of Earth Day, a movement started in 1970 to build the world’s largest environmental movement and to drive transformative change for people and planet. It’s arrived at a strange time as we sit in our houses feeling like Earth itself has put us all into a time out to think about our poor behaviour. It’s certainly a time for transformative change as we all ponder what the world will look like in the future as a direct result of our current situation. Innovation will be key as will conscious consumerism as we learn the lessons and avoid a situation like this from happening again.


We all know the world has been crying out for change for many years seeing the introduction of innovative solutions, such as the ocean cleanup project, courtesy of the incredible Boyan Slat, right up to the climate protests all around the world with our children taking to the streets to tell us they are afraid. We knew that change needed to happen but were told that it was simply impossible to stop what we were doing…and now the Earth stands still except for those it cannot function without. It’s food for thought that we don’t need everything that we consume. It’s interesting that a job in a supermarket, that was used as a threat by teachers for not working hard enough, is now one of the most secure careers in the world. It’s strange having the children home all day and taking walks with them, playing games and teaching them new things like ethics and gardening (it shouldn’t be). As we stand at our doors and windows at 8pm each Thursday to clap the incredible workers on the front line, we should also be thinking about how hard they have it, and how much more of the countries wealth should be plowed into health workers and equipment to save lives, rather than making weapons and fighting wars that take them.


Whilst we are thinking and connecting and realising that change is needed, the Earth is healing. Rivers are running clear in Venice, dolphins are swimming in the port of Sardinia, Milan are turning 35km of city streets to cycle lanes, the Ganges are running almost clear and we are seeing the largest ever annual fall in C02 emissions. The NHS has had to put the recruitment of volunteers to help support the community on hold so that they can process the first 750,000 applications (wow!). Social distancing may mean we cannot hug our loved ones but the community has never felt so connected. Neighbours that have barely shared a nod hello are shopping for each other and chatting across the fence. This is a time for change and we cannot go backwards. Technology is going to play a big part of the future in helping us connect virtually, but rather than a fear around screens, we should embrace the technology to do more working from home and even distance learning for young people. This in turn will further reduce C02 emissions, reduce stress and anxiety and free us up for more family time. Companies may well notice that employees have been more, rather than less, productive at home and that the 9-5 working week model is antiquated. 


We need a forward thinking future that focuses on people and planet above profit, where we individually focus on our health and mental wellbeing as a priority over ‘letting others down’. Whilst we create this new world of kindness, connection and community we must support our local and small businesses, many of whom have been wounded by this pandemic and need our help to heal. We must look at each and every item we buy and ask the questions needed to ensure that every product has an ethical and sustainable background. That includes the raw ingredients and the production. We need to understand that if a t-shirt only costs us £2 then the materials used, the labour costs and shipping may not be 100% ethical or sustainable. We only have one Earth, lets do what we can to make it a beautiful home for all of us. Happy Earth Day 2020.

Tanith Harding, Head of International Projects, RoundTable Global

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