Keep the parks open – the relationship between the quarantine and the environment

Esma Senman, Contributing Writer

As the push for more social distancing and self-quarantining rises, it seems difficult to hold onto the normalcy we once had in our everyday lives.

The cabin fever taking over has pushed many to reconnect with nature and appreciate the outdoors. Recently, Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order to close all state and county parks and forests.

The shutting down of, well, everything has thrown the nation into a frenzy. To cut off what has become the main source of connecting with the outside world may prove to have its disadvantages.

Spending time in the outdoors is known for its psychological, physical and even spiritual benefits. Shutting down parks would be counterproductive in this pandemic as the outdoors naturally boosts immune systems, in addition to promoting exercise, creativity and increasing energy. Getting outside lessens anxiety, stress and anger, a few emotions that may be running high due to being cooped up with family all day.

The feeling of little creativity as a result of a lack of fresh air paired with staring at four walls day after day can make anyone feel insane. With this executive order, municipalities still have the power to keep parks open, which would be of great benefit to those with a little cabin fever.

There are certainly some social and environmental benefits that have come from the quarantine. Many have found themselves developing a new-found appreciation for the outdoors that has not been present before COVID-19.

Work, school and more have dragged us away from the relationship with nature we may have had as children. In appreciation of the outdoors, there are many things you can do from home to protect the environment and keep our parks beautiful.

As a result of self-quarantining, we have been cut off from activities such as eating out, shopping and even more for the most part. It is evident that we are creating much less waste. This leads to less garbage in landfills, which can be traced back to less production due to the shutdown.

With this lull in the economy and the constant buying, selling and trashing of things, the environment has an opportunity to improve. On top of economic aspects, work and school from home are resulting in a lot fewer car emissions than before. This may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the environment. Now is the time to self-reflect and keep the good things going post-coronavirus.

There are many things you can do to feel productive.

What YOU can do for the environment:

Walk, bike or carpool – fewer cars, fresher air. Try to walk, bike or, in the future, carpool. With all the time in the world now, these are healthier ways to get to the supermarket.

Reusable utensils – Once restaurants reopen, everyone will be dying to get a bite. The best way to help the cause is to bring utensils along and reuse them as opposed to disposing of them. You can use regular metal utensils from your drawer at home!

BYOB– Since it seems like we are only going to the supermarket and home, we might as well make the biggest impact we can. Be eco-friendly and bring a bag from home.

Let’s use this opportunity to do some good and put a positive spin on this situation!