April 9, 2020

COVID-19 has ground the world to a halt. Schools are closed. Millions are working from home or out of work. Going out to the store to purchase food is an adventure. 

By now maybe you’ve watched the entire Marvel series, Star Wars saga and Lord of the Rings movies. Twice. If you’re feeling cooped up and restless, Defenders has some suggestions to keep you wild while you’re staying home.

1. Stay informed and take action

March in front of the Capitol
Jane Bullis

It is easy to get overwhelmed with the onslaught of coronavirus-related news. As COVID-19 ravages the country, the Trump administration continues to advance its own deregulatory agenda in the shadows, loosening environmental protections and harming wildlife. Now is an important time to stay informed and to take action on wildlife issues. You can help by signing our petitions and by letting your elected officials know that you are still fighting for wildlife

2. Take it a step further and become an activist 

Maybe you have already signed a petition and you are wondering what else you can do to get involved from the comfort of your home. Now is a great time to reach out to people in power and let them know what you think by writing a letter to the editor or calling your local or congressional representative. More of a craft person? Get creative by helping Defenders of Wildlife raise awareness of the threat to migratory birds by folding paper cranes

3. Reconnect with nature 

At a time when the 24-hour news cycle runs nonstop, taking some deep breaths in a park or a hike off the beaten path might help to ground you. Most stay-at-home orders allow for solitary outdoor exercise, so reconnecting with nature is still allowed, whether you’re birding from your kitchen window or looking for new spring growth along a trail. Just make sure you find an area that isn’t crowded, where you can maintain six to eight feet of distance, and it’s recommended that you wear a mask when out in public. You could even journal about your experiences – after all, this is a poignant time to reflect on the need for nature in our lives and our reliance on biodiversity.

Father and son fishing in a river
Wundervisuals

4. Spring cleaning 

Clear out the things that are cluttering your life and upcycle or donate them. Rediscover what’s at the back of your closet and repurpose things you already have. Not only will this save you a trip to the store, but by reducing, reusing, and recycling, you can help the planet too!

5. Read

Did you make a New Year's resolution to read more? Pull down those environmental books like Eager, Underland or The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea that have been sitting on the coffee table and bookshelves and remind yourself that they aren’t just for decoration. Or dive deep into the fiction world with books that have natural themes, from classics like Dune to new hits like Flight Behavior. Let us know what you’re reading in the comments!

Man reading on a bench in a meadow
Ben White/Unsplash

6. Watch

Looking for a movie theater alternative? Try an online film festival to satisfy your movie night craving! The International Wildlife Film Festival will be taking its festival virtual April 18 - 25 and the DC Environmental Film Festival still has some of their films online. Looking for more of a one hit wonder? Check out Beaver Believers or The Biggest Little Farm. Check out wildlife on the internet - national parks and organizations all over the country host livestreams of exhibits, bird nests and other wildlife.

7. Learn something new

Maybe you’ve always wondered why Defenders of Wildlife cares about dams on the Lower Snake River or how the border wall is detrimental to wildlife, or you’re looking for some good news in the wildlife world. Now is a great time to dive into a topic that sparks your curiosity. Try reading Defenders’ blog Wild Without End or check out our YouTube channel!

8. Try new recipes

Maybe it’s time to go meatless and try some new recipes. With extra time at home and grocery stores suffering shortages, you could experiment with all those beans you’ve left languishing in your pantry. Get your whole family involved in the kitchen creating healthy and environmentally friendly meals! 

People cooking in a kitchen
Edgar Castrejon/Unsplash

9. Limit energy consumption 

You may be spending more time at home than ever before, but you can still work to reduce your energy consumption (and keep that energy bill low). It’s easy to fall out of your regular routine of remembering to turn the lights or television off when you leave the room. And to help with your work-life balance while working from home, make sure to turn computers off when you’re done working. Turn it into a teaching moment for your kids and sign our energy pledge!

10. Create

Do you have a flair for the artistic? Try creating something! Painting, drawing, photographing, building - you are only limited by your imagination. If you have some wood blocks in your garage, make the bird house you’ve always wanted in your yard. Bonus: Once you build it, you can spend time getting to know your natural neighbors. Send us a picture so we can share your beautiful art on social media!

11. Help with science

Are you passionate about science or do you need some scientific material for your kids? Help with a community science project like eBird or iNaturalist. Both projects have an app that you can download onto your phone, enabling you to report observations of birds, plants and mammals while you are out exploring nature. Scientists rely on data collected by community scientists, which is even more important now that scientists are not able to get out into the field for research.

Students from Fillmore Elementary School learn how to use binoculars and search for endangered California condors on Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is directly behind and above the school.
Ian Shive/USFWS

12. Grow something 

Spring is here and now is a great time for planting! Be sure to plant native species to turn your backyard into habitat for your neighbors in nature, especially pollinators like bees and butterflies. Don’t have a yard? No problem! Repurpose a can or two from all the beans that you’ve been eating and start an urban garden on your windowsill or balcony.

Monarch Butterfly on Swamp Milkweed Michigan
Jim Hudgins/USFWS

Above all, we want to make sure you and your families are safe and healthy. Please follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization for protecting yourself while you are staying wild at home.

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