A year ago, who would have thought that one of the most caring actions we could be taking; for ourselves, loved ones, community and the environment was to stay home.

Today marks the commemoration of Earth Day, and the theme this year of #ClimateAction could not have been more apt, as our inaction (by staying at home) has shown how we can achieve – even some quick wins – in the natural environment.

Over the course of my career I’ve had the privilege to work with and learn from some very impassioned experts and environmentalists and, as a bit of a green-bug myself, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my reflections.

If you’re in Johannesburg and have been outside yet today, the sky is a more crisp blue than we’ve seen in some time (beyond the rainy days that we’re grateful for😊), there are more birds around and chirping, and in the evenings the stars and moon look brighter. And my Instagram feed is also full of stories; from scientific research on the potential ‘reset’ effect that the COVID-19 pandemic is having (in the short-term) on the natural environment, to animals in the Kruger National Park roaming more freely – and many similar stories from around the world. These are possibly some of the simplest, yet largely underappreciated, beauties in the world. But what if we could change that with a simple action?

For some this is hard to image. It’s hard to “see the woods from the trees” when in a state of crisis.

Surely, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – and the subsequent lockdowns – are very real. And there are important actions that need to be taken urgently, in balancing the duality of protecting the lives of people and staying off economic crisis. All tiers of society, from Government to business and society, are acutely aware of these priorities – and feeling different but relatable pressures.

But this global crisis – and the lockdowns to a degree – have also provided a pause for reflection; on marco, micro, socio scales, and at home.

As a communications consultant, when working with a client to help them navigate their way through any times of change, it’s important to focus on what’s urgent. But it’s equally important to understand, “how will what is happening today change you [in a business and personal context] for a new tomorrow?” – and to start thinking about, planning for and adapting to this change. From our experience, this is what differentiates the businesses and brands who are innovative and acting today based on what builds on their business sustainability for future tomorrows.

Right now, when we are under pressure and fearful of the future, it is understandable that most of the actions we take are reactive. But if we pose that same question, of “how will what is happening today change you for a new tomorrow?”, to Government, business and ourselves personally, and start to consider what actions can we take today that are changed from our past actions and are moving towards a new legacy we are building for a post COVID-19 world.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin.

Also, as every one of us is a consumer, we can no longer afford to be avoidant in our belief that the greatest responsibility to make changes lies solely with Government and business. During the lockdown we have had time to get to know ourselves very well in terms of getting back to basics on our real needs, our consumption patterns and our habits. With so many resources of information available, we can also no longer stick to claims about not knowing enough.

Adopt a change in action. Whether it’s planting an indigenous and water resistant garden instead of imported grass, etc., continuing to separate-at-source and recycle from home, or doing more investigation to understand the products you use at home; just as Government and business have their share in acting responsibly, so do we as consumers – and we’ve already proven during lockdown that our actions can start at home.

Caitlin Hawken
Posted by:Caitlin Hawken

Caitlin prides herself on being a communications and PR specialist and avid storyteller.