Check out our guide on 12 ways to celebrate Earth Day as a family while sheltering in place!
How COVID-19 May Change Our Relationship With the Earth
PLUS: Free Downloadable Guide!
India just recorded its lowest average level of springtime nitrogen dioxide pollution ever. China's carbon dioxide emissions have dropped by 25% over the last few months. Emissions in northern Italy and New York have dropped, too. Air pollution in the Northeast portion of the United States has fallen by 30% in the last few weeks. The smog that had become a constant presence in traffic-heavy urban centers like Los Angeles and Mexico City is lifting, making skylines visible once again.
None of these wins for the environment are worth the high cost of human lives. (Though that argument is made more nuanced when you take into consideration the human lives saved by the reduced pollution—Stanford researcher Marshall Burke said in March that cleaner air in China likely saved 20 times more lives there than were lost due to the virus.)
Just like I wrote in our good-news roundup, I can't argue that the novel coronavirus is a good thing. Nothing that kills hundreds of thousands of people ever could be. The long-term consequences of rampant unemployment, economic slowdown, and extreme strain on mental and physical health are not to be underestimated.
But none of that changes the fact that as we approach the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, the earth is experiencing an unprecedented break from relentless, human-driven destruction.
Protecting the earth is in our long-term best interest as individuals and as a species. Having clean water and clean air are vital to our health, as is being made even more clear as coronavirus-related deaths spike in heavily-polluted areas. And that's something that we're noticing on a global level and also on an individual level, as people turn to the outdoors to help combat pandemic-induced anxiety and benefit from the immune-boosting power of vitamin D.
However, shutting down all transit and keeping people inside their homes isn't a sustainable way to make continued progress at slowing down global warming, reducing pollution, and caring for our natural resources. So how can we make sure we take some of the positive, earth-saving impacts of the coronavirus into a world where we're no longer under extensive stay-at-home orders?
First, we need to recognize that a return to normal is the likeliest scenario, said Jacqueline Klopp, co-director of the Earth Institute's Center for Sustainable Urban Development, in an interview for Columbia. "As we face this moment of disarray, we don't want to be thinking an inch in front of our faces. A lot of money is going to be put into getting the economy going again, and if we just put it back into the same polluting industries, people will continue dying."
What does she recommend instead? That we whole-heartedly embrace the individual choices that we've shown we are capable of making.
The four highest-impact things individuals can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are to have one fewer child, live without a car, avoid plane travel, and stop eating meat, found a 2017 study done by the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies.
The pandemic has forced many people into doing at least three of those. (We'll have to wait and see whether there's a COVID-19 baby boom or not.)
As large quantities of workers prove that they can cut out their commute and work from home instead, they are making the case that they can continue telecommuting even after it's safe to go back into the office.
As individuals and families are canceling flights for far-off vacations, they could create a new set of expectations around travel. Perhaps the new normal could be families setting off on several local adventures and just one longer, air-travel-needed trip each year, instead of two or three week-long vacations requiring long flights.
And as households are turning to their kitchens and their gardens during shelter-in-place rules, families are learning to reduce food waste, start composting, maintain a vegetable garden, and cook with easy-to-find, shelf-stable ingredients like beans instead of scarce and quick-to-spoil meat products. All of those changes could continue into a recovery from the virus, helping to solidify more eco-friendly food practices.
It's reasonable to expect that lifestyle changes induced by the pandemic could continue even after it's over, says a 2018 study done by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Researchers found that when people were unable to drive and were given access to free e-bikes instead, they drove much less once they eventually got their cars back.
Embracing everyday changes—like working from home versus commuting into an office, going on a "flight diet" and trading videoconferencing for in-person business meetings and local vacations for more exotic ones, and eating less meat—is a good place to start. But to really change our relationship with the earth, we'll need to keep advocating for climate-friendly policies at the national and global levels.
The very first Earth Day, 50 years ago, brought 20 million Americans (10% of the U.S. population at the time), out to the streets to protest environmental problems, and directly led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
What can we do this time around, if we come together for the future?
From ways to be politically active as a family to earth-friendly crafts and games, check out our guide on 12 ways to celebrate Earth Day while sheltering in place here.
Check out our guide on 12 ways to celebrate Earth Day as a family while sheltering in place!
Kiana Labuhn, Recruiter at S&P Global, shares an exclusive take on the most important tips to keep in mind when preparing for an interview.
How Bumble’s Director of Engineering Learned to Be Herself at Work—and Encourages Team Members to Do the Same
Rose Hitchcock found out she was pregnant with her third child halfway through the process of interviewing to be Director of Engineering at Bumble.
She told the team at the social media and dating app and that didn't change their plans to hire her. "They were completely fine with it, really supportive," says Rose.
You've met some of them—maybe they're your family, friends, classmates, or coworkers, or perhaps you identify as neurodivergent yourself.
Sharing inclusivity, not stereotypes, at Raytheon Technologies<p><br></p><p>"Raytheon Technologies and our Raytheon Alliance for Diverse Abilities (RADA) Employee Resource Group (ERG) is committed to trying to bring focus on invisible disabilities, as they are among the most misunderstood. Autism/neurodiversity isn't a mental illness and we recognize how important it is to bring awareness, be inclusive of everyone and avoid stereotypes. During Autism Awareness Month RADA is featuring a multi-regional presentation about Autism Awareness & Acceptance, as well as neurodiversity overall. The presentation is focused on educational information, including what Autistic people want in terms of inclusion and meaningful work, as well as dispelling common misconceptions."</p><p><em>Learn more about </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/raytheon-technologies" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Raytheon Technologies</em></a>.</p>
Hiring a world-class workforce at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency<p>"The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency recently launched the Neurodiverse Federal Workforce (NFW) pilot program, a collaborative effort between NGA, MITRE, and Melwood. The NFW pilot aims to help government agencies hire neurodiverse talent for U.S. Federal Government agencies. 'NGA mission success is contingent on a world-class workforce with a wide diversity of opinions and expertise,' said NGA Deputy Director Dr. Stacey Dixon. 'Neurodiverse talent can bring new perspectives to the NGA workforce and make important contributions to the mission.' The pilot is a great learning opportunity for NGA to continue to grow and improve our first-class workforce."</p><p>Learn more from the podcast "<a href="https://www.podcastone.com/episode/The-National-Geospatial-Intelligence-Agency-takes-workforce-diversity-in-a-new-direction" target="_blank">The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Takes Workforce Diversity In A New Direction</a>"</p><p><em>Learn more about the </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/national-geospatial-intelligence-agency" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Supporting each individual's preferred environment at Elastic<p>"We distribute anonymous surveys that allow anyone, including neurodiverse folks, to address potential barriers that we should address.</p><p>Our accessibility working group acts as an employee resource as well as an equity-seeking team that works to create and develop a disability inclusive workplace at Elastic.</p><p>The majority of our Elasticians work from home. Our hope is that this empowers neurodiverse employees, including those who may be on the spectrum, to have more control over their environment so that they can manage noise and light sensitivity, control their personal space, and manage their own schedule to reduce anxiety."</p><p><em>Learn more about </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/elastic" target="_blank"><em>Elastic</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Pioneering neurodiversity at Freddie Mac<p>"Freddie Mac values the insights and different perspectives that result from employees bringing their authentic selves to work. Our Office of Inclusive Engagement works with several organizations to identify qualified candidates, consider them for suitable roles and pair them with mentors who can help them adapt to an evolving new normal. In 2020, we evolved our neurodiversity internship initiative into a more robust training, education and hiring process called 'Neurodiversity at Work' to directly place candidates with Autism Spectrum Disorders into full-time roles."</p><p><em>Learn more about </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/freddie-mac" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Freddie Mac</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Decoding inclusion at MongoDB<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTk0NzE2OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMDY3MTY2MH0.Q-ko6g65MC-epHBrx_vr6k9v-lSawHH5jfhPWOVTozI/img.png?width=980" id="a4487" width="1112" height="626" data-rm-shortcode-id="a686a88d639ff3a91a5a4f6b455ce0cc" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>"MongoDB supports the neurodivergent community through interview accommodations, providing new hires the opportunity to select equipment and denote special requests, and onboarding checklists broken down into useful sections. To raise awareness about neurodiversity in the workplace, we have a learning and development (L&D) platform which has content on collaborating with different working styles. Our L&D Program focuses on building skills in managing teams inclusively. We also host Decoding Inclusion, a series of events aimed at building community and sharing foundational knowledge about D&I topics, including neurodiversity, to further our understanding of differences."</p><p><a href="https://www.mongodb.com/blog/post/why-now-cool-time-different-steph-johnson" target="_blank">Read more about how MongoDB celebrates difference in this interview with their VP of Corporate Comms</a></p><p><em>Learn more about </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/mongodb" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>MongoDB</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Encouraging allyship at Folsom Labs<p>"At Folsom Labs, we are passionate about building a culture of acceptance and inclusion. Our goal is not just to spread autism awareness but to strive to be allies and elevate the voices of those with disabilities. Now more than ever, this is important as many are facing the added weight of mental health and wellness challenges due to the pandemic. Encouraging allyship throughout the community and building a culture where everyone can thrive are at the forefront of our current initiatives. We are proud to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month — to set a stage where we can celebrate our differences and continue to create a space of inclusion and support."</p><p><em>Learn more about </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/folsom-labs" target="_blank"><em>Folsom Labs</em></a><em>.</em></p><em><br></em>
Recruiting for diverse problem solvers at Dell Technologies<video controls id="7ebf6" width="100%" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d5c114fad218a953432630dfe99716b2" expand="1" feedbacks="true" mime_type="video/mp4" shortcode_id="1617842842194" site_id="17377755" url="https://roar-assets-auto.rbl.ms/runner%2F23124-Neurodiversity_Shortform_0325.mp4" videoControls="true"> <source src="https://roar-assets-auto.rbl.ms/runner%2F23124-Neurodiversity_Shortform_0325.mp4" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag. </video><p>"Dell's Neurodiversity Hiring Program provides professional development training, internships, and full-time career opportunities for neurodivergent job seekers. The program rethinks the traditional interview process by removing barriers that may limit an individual from fully showcasing their skills and capabilities. Additionally, program participants benefit from job coaching and mentorship provided by our community partners and True Ability ERG members.</p><p>A variety of critical positions across the company have been filled through the program. In doing so, we are bringing in diverse perspectives for problem solving that have helped us differentiate ourselves within the marketplace all while cultivating a culture of inclusion."</p><p><br></p><p><em>Learn more about </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/dell-technologies" target="_blank"><em>Dell</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Supporting professionals with autism throughout their talent journey at Deloitte<p>"At Deloitte, everyone contributes to our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Our inclusive culture, empowers all of us, including those with diverse abilities, to connect, belong, and grow. Deloitte's Autism@Work program supports our professionals with autism throughout their talent journey. A customized, autism-friendly assessment process helps draw out our candidates' strengths. Our employees have an internal Coach, an Onboarding Advisor, and access to external job coaching. Our Onboarding Mentor/Buddy Program pairs professionals with autism with other Deloitte colleagues/allies. Through Neurodiversity Training, our professionals can help support and manage our differently-abled professionals. We also have our Abilities First Business Resource Group for people with disabilities plus allies."</p><p><em>Learn more about </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/deloitte1" target="_blank"><em>Deloitte</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Sharing stories to support awareness at Lockheed Martin<p>"Lockheed Martin shares employee stories internally to help others understand Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and hosts internal events to support ASD awareness and education. The Able & Allies business resource group, whose mission is to build an environment that empowers employees with disabilities, has recently partnered with ASD advocacy organizations to offer resources to assist with managing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with persons who have ASD and their families. Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) is a member of the Florida Ability Inclusion Network and strives to educate employees and leaders on disabilities and recommend best practices to promote a disability-friendly workplace."</p><p><em>Learn more about </em><a href="https://powertofly.com/companies/lockheed-martin" target="_blank"><em>Lockheed Martin</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Kate Jhaveri does one thing every day that she suggests you try: belly laughs.
The EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at the NBA credits her two kids with much of that levity—"They're very silly and they, at least once a day, make me laugh out loud," she says—though she seeks to make those lighter connections with her team at work, too.