COVID-19 has brought to the forefront many environmental issues we all knew existed but mostly chose to ignore. Overworked fields, human invasion of the wild and extinction of species are just a few examples of our destruction of the planet’s natural resources. The disastrous results are not surprising and COVID-19 is one of the ways in which nature is telling us to rethink our relationship with the environment.

In the healthcare industry, we focus primarily on medical solutions. That’s why scientists are trying to understand COVID-19, figure out how to stop it from spreading and develop a vaccine that can eradicate it completely. We hope that all these efforts are successful, but they deal with the symptom and not the root of the problem.

The problem is that we need to give nature a rest. We need to think about where the food we buy comes from, how much stuff we buy that we don’t really need and what we do with our possessions when we’re done with them. We need to teach our children to care about the environment and to work towards a green future.

Nurses and CNAs are among the busiest people out there, especially these days, but there are some things you can do to help save the environment with minimal effort:

  • Reduce consumption of red meat –  Red meat is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse emissions as common vegetables and grains. Try preparing dishes that use just a bit of meat to provide flavor. Or designate certain days as meatless.

  • Take shorter showers – Most of the water we use is in the bathroom and this water is just wasted. Wash more quickly and turn off the water while you brush your teeth.

  • Go paperless – 40% of the timber that is sold ends up as paper. Use rags instead of paper towels, wrap presents in reusable bags and ask your bank to send you digital statements. If your nursing facility uses too much paper, suggest ways that they can reduce it and go digital instead.

  • Use a refillable bottle – Water bottles are filling landfills and causing major pollution. It’s important to stay hydrated while doing your rounds, so get a large refillable bottle and carry it with you or leave it in the staff refrigerator.

  • Borrow what you don’t need – How many things do you have in your house that you bought and only used once? Before buying something new, think about whether you really need it. If you can, borrow instead. Get a Halloween costume from a friend, borrow a screwdriver if you’re not a DIY kind of person and wear a rented or borrowed dress for a fancy occasion. But please buy your own pens. Nurses don’t really like lending theirs out…

For more ideas on easy ways you can protect the environment, check out the 50 Ways to Help the Planet website.