For Earth Day, students, faculty and staff from all three UW campuses reflect on what it means to be sustainable during a pandemic.
It feels like we are living in a moment of transition. This shift may have occurred naturally as younger generations take more of a role in public life. Even so, the pandemic likely accelerated the pace of change.
Many of us have spent the past year working from home. What started as a temporary response to a public health emergency seems likely to continue in some form once the pandemic is over. We shopped online before covid, but not at this level. Schools shifted to remote instruction. Students have begun returning to classrooms but one gets the sense that hybrid education is the future.
Maybe it’s because so many of us were home there wasn’t much to distract us, but the pandemic focused the national attention on issues that are often ignored. George Floyd’s murder struck a cord and galvanized a movement built on anti-racism. The lack of affordable childcare, the plight of low-wage workers and the sacrifices working mothers make also took center stage in our collective conscious.
Something else happened. The world stepped outside (probably because that’s the only thing one could do). Studies show that the pandemic got people thinking about nature and about larger environmental issues. Home gardens took off. U.S. seed company W. Atlee Burpee & Co reported that it sold more seeds in March of 2020 than at any other point in its history. Carbon emissions dropped nearly 7% in 2020 compared to 2019 levels.
It’s too early to tell if this current moment is the new normal. In the spirit of Earth Day, we wanted to find out about how people have spent the past year. Specifically, we wanted to know about their efforts to be sustainable during a pandemic. We reached out to students, faculty and staff across all three UW campuses for an episode of the UW Tacoma podcast, Paw'd Defiance. The responses we received are deeply personal and rich with insight.
Earth Day Pie in the Face
As part of this year's Earth Day recognition, UW Tacoma is hosting the second annual Earth Day Pie in the Face event.
During the online event, four faculty members will be asked questions about sustainability. If they answer incorrectly, they get a whipped cream pie in the face!
Participants are raising money for The Pantry at UW Tacoma. If you can't make the live event, don't worry, it will be recorded.
In a story about increasing exposure to wildfire smoke in our region, Associate Professor Robin Evans-Agnew talks about the resulting increased prevalence of asthma and its inequitable burden on society.