The Environment, COVID and YOU: The Benefits of Doing LESS – for Everyone!

Did you know it was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on Wednesday? This milestone went largely unnoticed in the current COVID-19 crisis – even though one of the unexpected (positive) by-products of this crisis is that our environment is benefiting!

In this article we’re going to look at the benefits of doing less for the planet and ourselves. You’ll also find a fun worksheet to help you observe what you do – and don’t – enjoy about this simpler life we’re all living at the moment. The idea is that you can then begin to think about what changes you might make once things are more normal again.

The Environment, COVID-19 and Humans Doing Less…

So. In the first two months of this year, we broke a couple of worrying records:

But since then, the COVID-19 restrictions have (positively) led to:

It’s not just reduced air pollution. Reduced human activity has also resulted in:

  • Clear, glassy water in Venice canals (it’s no longer being churned up by boat motors) so that fish can now be seen.
  • Giant Sea-Turtles are nesting in unprecedented numbers on beaches in Florida and Thailand without the usual human visitors.
  • Birds returning in massive numbers to recolonize empty Pacific beaches in Peru.

What a difference a couple of months makes!

You, COVID-19 and Doing Less…

So, what have been the positive impacts for you?

We’re also part of the natural world. It’s not just the planet and wild animals benefiting from all the reduction in activity. Humans are too!

Perhaps you’re:

  • Getting more organized and finishing long-standing home and garden projects.
  • Thinking more about your values and what matters most to you in life.
  • Finding new ways to connect with the people who really matter.
  • Learning that fewer social commitments makes your life easier.
  • Discovering that planning ahead for groceries means fewer trips to the store – and more time for you.
  • Buying less stuff (fewer ‘unnecessary’ or impulse items) and spending less overall (no restaurants, holidays, less gas in the car etc.).
  • Finding it easier to say “No” because you finally have a ‘good enough’ reason!
  • Learning new skills eg. something creative, online training, growing food or herbs.
  • Connecting to the natural world around you more eg. birds from your window, the passing of the seasons, sunset, the phases of the moon.

Even though it’s tough in many ways, we are all living simpler lives

A few years ago I discovered something called “Voluntary Simplicity”. It’s a life philosophy that was popularised by Henry Thoreau in the late 1800s that advocates for simple, moderate living.

The COVID-19 restrictions have actually forced many of us into simpler – and more moderate – lifestyles.

We all know that we need to do less, say “no” more, make more “value-driven” choices around what we buy and what we do. We know that meditation and mindfulness is good for us, that journaling can help us get clarity on who we are and how we feel.

But we’re usually too busy to act on it.

Instead we live our lives on auto-pilot – we say “yes, yes, yes” piling on more stuff and activities until we’re overwhelmed and overtired. We’re so preoccupied with staying “on top of” our lives, that we’re unable to recognize how we feel – and what we need.

This enforced staying at home gives us an opportunity for more spaciousness.

We ALL have this extraordinary opportunity to slow down.

That delicious feeling of NOT rushing, not thinking about the next thing while we’re still working on the current one. Slowing down so that we can actually enjoy what we’re doing at a pleasant and unhurried pace!

The ‘luckiest’ of us – with the fewest responsibilities – will be able to treat this time as a retreat.

But this crisis gives everyone more time and space to think – and feel. Even with kids and family full-time at home, we simply have fewer commitments – almost no activities of any kind outside the home.

So, what are you noticing?

What are you observing now that your “normal” busy life is on pause? What are you enjoying about this? What are you learning about YOU?

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” Lao Tzu

This COVID-19 crisis has put a pause on our usual crazy lives, and gives us an opportunity to reflect and learn what we want to be different when life starts back up again…

Your Mission!

The enforced slow down due to the COVID crisis is in stark contrast to our usual super-busy lives. We have this incredible opportunity to experience what it feels like to slow down – and begin to think about what we’d like to be different after ‘all this’.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it 😉 – is simply to grab a pen and paper and write down:

  1. What you LIKE and
  2. What you DON’T LIKE about your life during this crisis

The more specific you can be, the better. Include everything – from big to small, and you may notice that many things come in pairs too!

I created a “Life Noticing Recording Sheet” .PDF for you – to make it more fun.

And then, in a couple of weeks, you’ll receive a follow-up worksheet with questions to help you explore underneath these likes and dislikes to find your own personal insights and – importantly – decide what you might do differently when this is over.

Some of my examples include: I like having totally commitment free weekends but I’m missing the mental stimulation of weekend errands and trips; I like that there is only one type of bathroom tissue to choose from and I dislike that too; and while I dislike not seeing friends, I am enjoying not having to plan and organize my calendar!

So for now, just NOTICE – and write your observations down without judgement or analysis. This information will empower you to create a more meaningful and values-driven life going forwards!


We WILL get through this crisis and be stronger if we can connect to – and develop – these 3 core areas:

  1. Connection to ourselves: This crisis provides a unique opportunity to slow down, and learn to LISTEN to ourselves!
  2. Connection to others: Even as people are physically separated, we’re all pulling together and finding ways to increase our connection to others. And you’re probably also learning who matters most to you.
  3. Connection to something bigger than ourselves. The positive impact of this COVID-19 crisis on the ‘natural’ world is huge. But the reduction in human activity – is good for us TOO. And it’s worth beginning to think where those two overlap – and what we might do differently to make the world a better place when this is over.
Remember: “Change the world, start with you!”

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Image of EARTH with ladybugs, worm and greenery by Comfreak via Pixabay

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