While the world is no stranger to difficult news, the reports relating to COVID-19 can definitely feel overwhelming, especially when the repercussions affect many of us on a personal level. But, with a slight shift in your Google search, you can also find countless results for positive stories taking place during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as examples of people showing up for one another and our planet in the most creative, caring ways.
So in celebration of Earth Day, we’ve collected some of the most inspiring stories to lift your spirits and celebrate the best things taking place all around us, no matter where you are in the world.
5 Ways the Planet Has Healed Due to the Pandemic
The “pause” in our normal, day-to-day existence created by the coronavirus has allowed the earth to take a deep breath. As a result, many have noticed striking changes in scenery and air quality due to the break from the hustle and bustle typically associated with urban living. In the last few weeks alone, there have been numerous examples of the earth experiencing a season of revival.
1. Air pollution is decreasing
Thanks to the significant reduction in road traffic, air traffic and industrial work, there has been a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions and climate pollutants. For this reason, cities are seeing a sharp decline in air pollution, with pollution levels dropping as much as 50 percent in parts of Europe. As skies continue to clear around the world, scientists, politicians and activists are already discussing how to sustain these positive changes long after the coronavirus pandemic has passed.
2. Nature is returning
If you’ve even casually browsed social media lately, chances are you’ve seen some of the images of animals roaming through deserted streets. In addition to slowing the spread of COVID-19, a surprising side effect of social distancing has been the return of a variety of wildlife. With so many people staying indoors, some animals have reclaimed their natural habitats, while others seem to be using this time to graze and play while their newfound freedom allows.
3. Cleaner bodies of water
As one of the most beloved cities in the world, Venice, Italy, hosts tens of millions of visitors each year. But now, without gondolas, water taxis and cruise ships filling their famous waterways, Venetians have noticed a striking improvement in the quality of the canal water. While typically murky and muted, today the canals appear crystal clear, offering incredible visibility in shallower areas and allowing for the return of swans, fish and more in recent days.
4. Reduced noise pollution
Without the buzz of cars, construction and city life, some reports are citing a considerable reduction in noise pollution. This downturn can translate to positive health impacts, as exposure to chronic noise is connected to higher stress levels, hearing loss and high blood pressure. What’s more, these calmer soundscapes have unexpected benefits for birds, too; reductions in noise are linked with greater reproductive success and lower mortality rates for many breeds.
5. Gardens are thriving
While many people are now opting for grocery delivery services over visiting retail stores, others have begun planting gardens for the very first time. Beyond putting less strain on our environment than commercial farms, gardening is also proven to have therapeutic benefits. Planting your own herbs and vegetables is a great way to meet the needs of your family, as well as an opportunity to share with neighbors and nearby food banks.
5 Other Positive Stories to Come out of the COVID-19 Crisis
During periods of near-constant troubling news, it’s natural to feel upset and helpless. However, it’s during these times that it’s most important to “look for the helpers,” as Mister Rogers once famously taught us to do. The truth is, people from all parts of the world are helping others during this crisis by showing up in powerful, positive ways.
1. Entrepreneurs and businesses pitching in to assist
A number of notable entrepreneurs and billionaires have been using their wealth for good by supporting healthcare workers worldwide. James Dyson, industrial designer and founder of the British technology company of the same name, recently committed his company’s staff and facilities to aid in pandemic relief within the United Kingdom. Access to ventilators is one of the greatest needs hospitals have at this time, so the team at Dyson is now manufacturing 15,000 ventilators to be utilized in life-saving treatment.
In addition to ventilators, face masks are a form of personal protective equipment (PPE) that has been hard to come by as of late. Near the end of March, a handful of prominent tech billionaires announced they’d be delivering millions of masks to healthcare workers on the frontlines, making sure national medical staff are well-equipped for the long days ahead. Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Elon Musk of Tesla are among those who promised to donate masks, an important effort in limiting exposure for those in the medical field and in slowing the spread of the virus everywhere.
Last, many video conferencing providers have launched and expanded free video conferencing services, enabling colleagues, families and friends to stay connected while social distancing and quarantining. These services are also being used by frontline healthcare providers to offer essential health service workers, religious organizations, community groups, entertainers and millions more in virtually every country around the world.
2. Sacrifices and selflessness of healthcare workers
Working in the healthcare field has always required certain selflessness, but our current situation is seeing unprecedented levels of sacrifice. As the number of new cases of coronavirus has climbed over the last few weeks, PPE is still in high demand but short supply. Workers have become resourceful with what’s available, sometimes repurposing sports goggles as face shields or storing their face masks in Tupperware to reuse them on their next shift.
For fear of infecting loved ones at home, many hospital staff have moved into rentals or temporary housing for the foreseeable future. Concordia University Texas opened its residence halls to healthcare workers and first-responders so they can rest and self-isolate after shifts. And for the workers who are living at home, they're taking ample precautions every time they come and go—from removing their scrubs at the front door, to routinely disinfecting every surface, to thoroughly washing “contaminated” clothing. As they regularly put themselves at risk by helping patients recover, healthcare workers are truly inspiring the world with their selfless service.
3. Communities rallying
In the midst of so much uncertainty, communities are continuing to rally around one another through incredible acts of kindness. By harnessing the power of social media, money transfer apps and Google Docs, neighborhoods far and wide have formed online groups to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of their communities.
Because of this virtual support network, people confined to their homes have been able to find others to do their grocery shopping for them. In the same way, childcare has been coordinated for parents who are still working outside the home, while crowdfunding sites have been set up to raise funds for people who remain unemployed. This solidarity may not have happened had our circumstances not shifted so dramatically, yet it’s amazing to watch people rise to the occasion and offer endless assistance to one another.
4. People helping the elderly
In the wake of COVID-19, numerous elder-care facilities have suspended visitors in an effort to protect their residents. But even when residents remain indoors, staff are ensuring they’re not without their fair share of fun, like this team did through a lifesize version of the Hungry Hungry Hippos board game. If the corresponding video is any indication, it’s safe to say the game provided some much-needed amusement during this lockdown.
While care facilities are providing light-hearted relief to residents, supermarkets and box stores are looking out for the interests of seniors, as well. Groceries and major chains (including Target and Walmart in the United States) have implemented dedicated shopping hours for seniors to browse at their own pace and avoid the commotion of large crowds.
5. All-star virtual concerts and shows
Although the coronavirus has caused concerts to be canceled, creativity always finds a way to prevail. Instead of performing in person, artists have taken their shows online to share the gift of music with fans across the globe. Chris Martin of Coldplay kicked off the live-stream concert trend in mid-March, partnering with Global Citizen and the World Health Organization (WHO) to launch the aptly titled “Together at Home” series.
Since then, various other artists have followed suit, with the project culminating in a historic eight-hour event called One World: Together At Home. This incredible concert broadcast saw performances and appearances from dozens of major celebrities and collected donations totaling an impressive $127.9 million to support the WHO and COVID-19 relief efforts. If Together at Home is any indication, virtual events and video conferencing are an impactful way to connect people across time zones and trying times.
These days, keeping in touch with our network of family, friends and coworkers feels more important than ever. Video conferencing is providing a certain semblance of normalcy while we’re missing out on so much, giving us the ability to communicate face to face while we keep a physical distance. With the free video conferencing app from Lifesize, you can start a video chat on any of your devices, anywhere you have access to the Internet. Staying connected to your loved ones has truly never been easier.
In the middle of what can feel so heartbreaking, there still are an infinite number of heartwarming and positive stories to discover. These acts of kindness and community demonstrate our collective resilience and what can be accomplished with a common goal in mind.