Happy Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day, an annual celebration of environment that happens every year on the 22nd of April. It is also the 50th Anniversary of the first ever Earth Day, which started back in 1970. This year the theme is climate action - you can find out more about Earth Day 2020 on the official website here. They have lots of suggestions of small actions you can take - from measuring your local air quality to doing a mini litter pick.

Edinburgh College Students' Association takes environmental protection very seriously. We have just finished a two-year projeect focusing on improving sustainable travel at Edinburgh College, and are about to start a new project that will expand this work. We will create new community fridges and swap shops at the college's campuses which will make it easier for studdents to reduce their food and textile waste. We will also be working with lecturers to improve sustainability education at the college and ensure more departments include it in their curriculum. This work is possible thanks to funding from the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund.

In light of the current coronavirus lockdown, we appreciate that getting out into nature is more difficult - and more valuable - than ever. That's why Severine Monvoisin, Edinburgh College's Community Garden Coordinator, has written these tips on staying connected with nature whilst staying at home. We hope you find them a useful way to relax and celebrate this amazing planet we live on.

Severine's tips for connecting with nature during lockdown:

Take advantage of your daily exercise allowance.

  • Walking, running, cycling, and skipping are all exercise. Remember - you don't need to sweat heavily to exercise, even a gentle walk is good for you.

  • Explore your surroundings during your daily walk. Go down roads you haven't been down before. Look at your neighbours gardens, or trees in the street. Walk to nearby green spaces - Edinburgh has lots of parks and hills to explore.

  • You can play frisbee outside whilst still easily maintaining social distancing - and it's fun too!

Take photos

  • On your daily walk take pictures of nice spot, a flowering tree against a blue sky, a flower, or a bird, some architecture, or view that you like.

  • Use a micro lens or zoom to get even closer to nature - take a close-up photo of a flower and see what small details you find.

  • Use the pictures as desktop or phone wallpapers.

  • Share your best pictures on social media.

  • Use them for your bullet journal or any creative hobby.

Connecting with the outdoors when in isolation

  • Open the window more often and as wide as possible.

  • Clean your windows to let more natural light in.

  • Sit by the window especially when sun is shining. If your living space has several windows follow the sun from one window to the other.

  • Make a reading, meditative, or just nice space next to the window to chill and be calm.

  • Draw or record what you see and hear from your window. You could make a sound map with a paper and a pen: Sit calmly without any distractions (turn off your phone and music). Concentrate on what you hear only. Your piece of paper becomes the space around you. Draw the sounds you hear. You car use line, circle, dots, signs... it's not about drawing a bird or a car, it's about drawing the sounds as you experience them.

  • The window can be open at night too and it is then very different sounds and sight.

  • Start a small growing project on your windowsils. You can grow herbs or salad leaves, or even tomatoes.

  • Take care of your houseplants. Supermarkets are still selling houseplants and flowers.

  • Watch nature documentaries, or visit zoos or botanical gardens online on social media. Most of the gardens in the UK are showcasing various aspects of the their garden and secret spaces, and presenting their activities in different ways.

Use the outdoor spaces available to you:

  • If you have a private garden, balcony, or terrace you can use it to go outside as much as you like

  • If you have a shared outdoor area you can still go outside, but remember to be respectful of your neighbours and keep 2m away from them. Why not work with your neighbours to plant things in your shared garden?

  • Start a food growing project. You can find seeds in most big supermarket, or try ordering them online. You can re-use yoghurt pots and milk cartons as plant pots.

  • If you have children, give them their own wee space to grow things and experiment. Radishes and spinach are both easy to grow.

  • Make habitats for wildlife: bird feeders, bird houses, hedgehog shelter, or feeding station.

  • Sow a wild meadow to encourage wildlife and bees.

  • Make a reading corner in your outdoor space