Is Covid-19 a Wake-up Call for Humanity?

This crisis has us asking many questions. This is one of mine. But, among the bad, there have been good things happening too.

OK, first I want to state that I don’t want this post to get political or overtly religious. Let’s be real: heated debates on such personal and subjective topics serve nothing in the overall scheme of things. My intent is to get some of my thoughts out about this crazy time we’re all in the midst of. Maybe some of you have had these kind of thoughts as well?

I also want to state that I’m not trying to trivialize this crisis in any way. This virus is truly insidious in its contagion and people have died. I’ve been trying to keep up on the science in real time, as much as possible. And we can’t overlook the economic toll either. These times are unprecedented and folks are suffering. There’s just no sugar-coating it.

Disclaimer aside, I can’t help but feel like Mother Nature has us in the crosshairs. In no time flat, and at a global level, everything just got laid bare. In the raw mess are the flaws of our societies, gutted, wide-open, and glaring. The flaws of our economies, our healthcare systems, our inequalities, our divisions, our loyalties…so on and so forth. Literally. Everything. Is exposed right now.

I also can’t help but feel that this may be the only way the human race will make the necessary changes to keep this planet functioning and habitable for future generations. We’ve had years, even decades, of warning and progress has been painfully slow. Blame who or whatever makes you feel better about it but, as a species, we all failed.

So, now what?

While I’d like to say we all wake up and suddenly do better, nothing’s ever so simple (and people are complex, as are their motives). Especially when the catalyst is forcing sudden changes in ways people find incredibly uncomfortable. A lot of folks naturally want to run back under the blanket and go back to sleep. It’s less painful.

But there have been upsides to this disaster and I think we’d be remiss to ignore them or discount them out of hand.

Re-Connecting With Oneself & Loved Ones

Being stuck at home may be annoying to some, particularly if you’re very social. For others, it’s provided a perfect opportunity to get things done around the house, get to know your kids or spouse better, and even get in some solid introspection time. Some have even realized they prefer working from home or homeschooling their kids or cooking from scratch. The time just wasn’t there before, with all of society’s demands.

Re-Evaluating What’s Important to You

This is one of the things many people are currently reflecting on – how much those demands took away from the quality of their lives. It’s making people re-evaluate what’s really important to them. And, they’re adapting to meet the moment. They’re connecting digitally with loved ones, planning/starting businesses that make their hearts sing, and making decisions (lifestyle, financial, personal, etc) that are likely to have some real staying power.

The Correlation Between Reduced Human Activity & Reduced Pollution

After the initial shutdowns kicked in, it became apparent pretty quick how much our hustle and bustle contributed to pollution. With so few cars on the road in major cities, Nature showed us how fast the air quality could start to improve. The slowdown of consumer behavior demonstrates how little we actually need to survive and, perhaps, even how wasteful we had been up to now. Many people are making decisions now, based on this, pledging to buy/use less and save their money, rather than spend it. Our economies will have to adjust to this new norm, as people revert back to the frugality of their ancestors. Nobody wants to get caught with their financial pants down again. It just leaves us too exposed.

The Rise of ESG/SRI Investments

As some stocks took major hits, others held up better in the downward slide. Oil stocks, which were already on the decline due to mass divestment of it and other pollution-related investment products, got pummeled. Companies are shutting down or declaring bankruptcy, many in the retail and restaurant sectors. Many of these, unfortunately, are small businesses (which are our communities backbones). Several shut down where I live, including our favorite date night spot.

In the midst of this, some sectors of the stock market are holding up better than others. Among these are ESGs/SRIs – also called Environmental, Social & Governance and Socially Responsible Investing – and even the Marijuana industry (if you ask me, this one’s gonna explode in coming years, especially if legalized at the federal level). Personally, if I could afford to invest, these are where I’d invest and had wanted to years before the pandemic.

Maybe I’m biased but I have my theories as to why these areas are doing better: because the kind of people who invest in them do so out of principles, not profit. Sure, seeing a return is nice but consider that many of these investors bought in when it wasn’t a popular thing to do at all, and people were even telling them (in their “conventional wisdom”) that these stocks were going nowhere. They bought in because it was something they believed in. Hence, they didn’t see the fear-based mass sell-offs that helped speed up the crash of the markets when the crisis hit.

Now, mind you, I work part-time at a local bank’s investment dept. (in admin, not advising) and I see how many clients are still trying to buy whatever sounds good this week, only to quickly sell it off if there’s even a slight whiff of “so, this isn’t going to help me recoup every cent I lost immediately”. I’m talking a regular 24-hour buy/sell turnaround time here in some cases. It amazes me. Some folks do it out of the stereotypical stock investor mentality of short-sightedness and others do it because they truly rely on the income from their investments to live on (and things just got real).

I can’t help but feel disappointment that folks let themselves fall prey to the fickleness of the markets when they’re so vulnerable to its whims. I mean, it went from dire straits to “hey, we’re back on everyone!” just on the promise that the government might do something – nothing had actually been done at that point and stocks were back on the rise already. If that doesn’t tell you that there isn’t much propping them up, besides hopes and dreams, nothing will. More reason to invest where you really feel it, and hang in there over the long haul, in my humble opinion.

But I digress…my apologies.

My main point here is that, despite the awfulness of our collective situation, there are indications that things can get better from here. I feel good that they will, at least eventually. There are promising developments on a vaccine. People are re-connecting and finding their own versions of a new normal. Economic indicators are positively leaning in the direction of social responsibility, clean energy, and other burgeoning industries that can provide a lot of good jobs in coming years. In the meantime, we have to hang in there and get through this incredibly tough time. I’d like to see us all do this together and by looking out for one another (as much as socially distancing allows us to, anyway, right?).

I’d like to leave you with a song that helps me feel good – Resilient by Rising Appalachia – because we are resilient and we will get through this. Be well, all!

A New Series on Ancient Medicine? Yes, Please!

I always find such good things in my email.  Homesteading tips, copywriting tips, updates on causes I follow, and so on.  Today, I got a heads up about a new documentary series from the creator of Sacred Science.

If you’re not familiar with Sacred Science, it was a documentary that came out several years ago.  It tracked 8 individuals with various ailments into the Amazon rainforest to see if Native medicine could do what modern medicine failed to do.

I enjoyed it very much and wound up buying the DVD and the cookbook (which features ancient and/or indigenous recipes from around the world).

Remedy, the new series, offers 9 episodes on various diseases and the herbs that can heal them.  A 10th bonus episode on reproductive, hormone and sex-related issues.  Each include interviews with experts on herbs, naturopathy, research, science, and integrative medicine to give you the real deal info.

The above link goes to a registration page, is not an affiliate link, and offers detailed info on each installment.  You would have to sign up to get the videos.  From Sept 5th to the 13th, a daily video will be sent via email and will only be available for 24 hours.  But if this series is as good as his first, it’ll be worth it.

If it’s the kind of thing you’re into, definitely check it out!

Eco-nomical Living: Stuff Management

Making the shift toward a leaner, greener lifestyle doesn’t have to be painful.  But, it does require some effort.  Luckily, most of us “ain’t skeered” of a little effort, especially when the returns are so promising.

I think the biggest question we face is: Where to start?  That first step is often the most challenging.  Keep reading for some tips and resources, using the 4 Rs, that can help clear your path.

4Rs_Green-White

Reduce

There’s more to ‘reducing’ than just setting aside some of your trash for the recycling bin.  Think about it: We’re a culture that values stuff and we tend to have too much of it.

Most of us have over-stuffed closets, junk drawers, and other assorted clutter to contend with.  Studies, like this one, show this correlates directly to increased stress levels by contributing to what’s known as “mental clutter”.

The good news is those closets and drawers can be cleared out or re-organized over the course of a weekend.  Too many clothes?  Give them away or have a yard/online sale.  Junk drawer blues?  Toss or recycle what’s actually trash and re-organize the rest.

Once you’ve taken on the mess and reigned victorious, take a moment to re-assess.  Inventory what’s left and come up with a plan to keep the stuff you accumulate to a minimum.  Ask yourself what you really need and why.  You may find you can get by with much less.  You may even be happier for it.

Reuse

Before you throw something away, ask yourself if there may be another life for it.  Some examples?

  • Those jeans with the ripped crotch seam won’t be a useful giveaway, but it might make good material for a sweet new decorative pillow
  • Old t-shirts make perfect cleaning rags, fabric for stuffed children’s toys or even DIY shopping bags
  • A ratty-looking, yet still sturdy, set of wooden boxes can be cleaned up and re-purposed into a cool new coffee table or shelf
  • Your vegetable-based trash can be composted into a healthy bio-organism to feed your plants

You could even sell your re-done creations for extra cash.  You’d be surprised to learn how many people make their living this way.

Not creative?  A crafty friend may welcome the opportunity to take the items off your hands for their own endeavors.

Recycle

Recycling Bins

If you’re not already familiar with what’s available locally, it pays to do a bit of research so you know your options.  A couple of key points to consider:

Find out who’s responsible for its delivery to the recycling facility. 

Some areas, often larger cities, offer recycling as part of the regular trash pick-up service.  They may even provide the bins for you, saving some money.

If your area doesn’t offer pick-up, find out if there’s a recycling dumpster near you.  For example, we live in a rural area and have one in a nearby village, at the fire department.  It’s worth the occasional trip to the R-dumpster to keep the landfills from filling up faster.

Keep in mind that some facilities only take certain items. 

For example, they may accept your juice or milk jugs, but not the plastic bag from your cereal box or disposable water bottles.  Find out what’s acceptable and keep a list handy near your recycle bins as a reminder.  The time it could save during hectic evenings is priceless.

Replace

This step is often clumped with “reducing” or “reusing”, as the items are typically reusable and reduce your carbon footprint, but it can easily stand on its own.  Let’s bring it back into the fold, shall we?

These days, there’s a push to rid ourselves of the type of items that contribute to landfill overflow and even declining health.  The biggest of these is plastic.  Luckily, there are now many alternatives available and prices continue to become more affordable.

Kitchenware – From stainless steel to wood to ceramic, any of your plastic kitchen items can be replaced with something made for improved longevity and eco-footprint.  Among these are:

At my house, we use stainless steel water bottles instead of the throwaway plastic ones.  As a side note, we also use a fluoride-removing filter on our cold water tap for our drinking/cooking/pet water.  Any extra time taken in heating it up, when needed hot, is worth it to me.

Toys – Ever wonder what chemicals make their way into a child’s mouth when they chew on a plastic toy?  It’s not pretty.  There are healthier alternatives out there and kids find them just as fun to play with. These include:

Furniture & Bedding – The chemical exposure in our living and bed rooms is staggering.  The healthier versions are more expensive, but worth it in my opinion.  For example, your bamboo bedding may have run you $100 more than a standard set.  But the anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and allergy-reducing qualities of those bamboo fibers can save you more than that in health costs over a period of time.

Especially if you suffer from indoor allergies.

If shelling out for new couches, carpets, and beds is cost-prohibitive for you – believe me, we aren’t there yet either! – start by focusing on the things you can do.   Organic cotton or bamboo covers/upholstery for your mattresses and sofas.  Saving up to replace carpets with organic versions or hardwood (or bamboo or cork!).  Purchasing pillows or pillow covers of bamboo, buckwheat, etc.  A little change here and there can add up to a huge difference over time.

These are only a few of the ways you can make better use of your home resources and live a greener life.  How many more can you come up with?