sustainable actions couch

Coronavirus: 6 Ideas To Act Sustainably Without Leaving Your Couch

André Gonçalves - Editor & Head Of English Market

After studying and working in HR, André studied sustainability management at Lisbon's School Of Economics & Management. He is responsible for the English speaking market of Youmatter since 2018.

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Nations across the world have imposed travel restrictions to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. This led millions of people to spend huge amounts of time at home, often feeling scared, helpless or even bored.

In the face of such feelings, life restrictions and imminent danger it is easy to understand that distant, hard to measure, multi-caused issues such as the ones deriving from climate change or social inequality are not on top of people’s agendas.

In times like these, boredom and the lack of energy and enthusiasm can easily lead to less commitment and fewer action on sustainability-related issues. But there are still things you can do to help protect the environment and improve society without leaving your couch.

1 – Support An NGO

You can act sustainably without leaving your couch by simply supporting or making a donation to an organization fighting for a cause you resonate with. Do a little research of local NGOs and foundations working close to you on issues that most likely affect you indirectly or that you wish to help. Research some more renowned organizations as they have a different kind of impact and different types of resources – though they are probably in less need of help.

Some will be focused on protecting reefs or mangroves from industrial or touristic exploitation. Others will be concentrated on soil regeneration or water efficiency and savings in regions affected by climate change-caused droughts. Others raise awareness of issues like animal welfare or inequality and human rights.

There’s a lot to choose from. Some are over communicative and clearly tell you where your money is going to. Others send monthly newsletters, photos of your recently-planted tree or invite you to get involved in local meetups with other people who think alike. Sometimes a little amount of money turns out to be of great help and you might end up meeting interesting projects and people. Why not?

2 – Check The Sustainability Practices Of Your Favorite Brands

The new coronavirus began, most likely, in a bat mutation caused indirectly due to human’s overexploitation of natural resources. Human-caused activities are killing 200 species a day and forcing numerous others to leave their natural habitats to try to survive.

As they arrive into new, often polluted and poorly managed ecosystems they need to adapt to new conditions. This increases animal stress levels and decreases the response power of the immune system. In 2017 the BBC wrote a piece saying that mutations like these are only likely to increase. They add the argument that, as permafrost melts in some of the coldest regions of the planet, new bacteria and viruses unknown to humans will start showing up.

The point is: we need to consume less (and better) – and we can, as this crisis is showing. But we will still keep consuming (even if at a lower rater and betting greatly in shared services and products) so we should privilege organizations whose activities cause the least harm to the natural world. So what about doing a little research on your favorite brands and figure out what they are doing to this regard to make sure they deserve your support, i.e., that you keep buying from them?

In their website you should find their good practices for the planet and society. But don’t be fooled: these should not be isolated actions. Donating money to NGOs is nice, and so is recycling in their facilities or avoiding single-use plastics. But if you are not able to find a CSR report with a clearer strategy, impact indicators and metrics to be achieved these are most likely isolated initiatives that fail to reflect what could be a much larger, complex, powerful and effective strategy to mitigate a company’s environmental and social impacts.

3 – Volunteer Your Digital Skills To The Elderly

A crisis brings out the best in us. Without leaving your couch you can give the elderly people you know a call not only to check up on them but also to make sure they are keeping up to the technological revolution and demands taking place in every home.

The truth is not all of today’s living generations were born surrounded by technology. Maybe your grandpas have a smartphone they only use to make phone calls but which have indeed other potentialities. Sitting at your couch you surely have plenty of time and goodwill to follow them through an improvised how to master your smartphone or laptop class.

Either via a phone call or if in person if you are sharing the same roof, teach them – of course, step-by-step (by step) – how to play cards online, how to use skype or how to reach newspapers.

4 – Order Food From Small Local Business That Recently Moved Online

Small owned businesses like grocery stores and restaurants are being particularly challenged by the coronavirus outbreak. Nonetheless, the huge demand for food and meals that large players aren’t being able to respond to is leaving them a window open for small owned businesses.

Do a quick search and you will likely find some kind of spreadsheet with the phone numbers, delivery areas and names of these businesses that are quickly adapting and creating online pages to showcase their products and doing home deliveries. Your order will most likely arrive earlier than if you order from highly-demanded supermarket chains.

5 – Learn More About Sustainability-Related Issues

Again, there’s no need to leave your couch! Start learning about an issue you particularly enjoy and perhaps you can get involved with it later (via some NGO or own project) or even start working around this area?

How can you do this? There’s the fun mode and the working mode. In the first one you can simply watch a movie or a documentary – see our non-exhaustive list.

The other choice would be to enroll in an online course where you can decide to learn from a broad range of issues. From how to measure social and environmental impacts to the principles behind ecosystem regeneration, how to design in a circular way, how to create inclusive and fairer societies…

6 – Make Some Entrepreneurial Plans For The Future

Sitting or laying on your couch, create a list with a bunch of environmental or social problems you know of that are happening around you. Do a little brainstorm on how these could be potentially solved, what it would take, who would need to get involved and what resources would be needed.

If you believe you got to one or two reasonable ways of solving the problems you have identified get in touch with friends and people you know that are experts in some of these areas and ask them for feedback and to think things over with you. Perhaps you will be able to start developing some of these ideas. If you never try you will never know.

[Image credits to Shutterstock]

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