If there is one thing the COVID-19 virus outbreak has taught us, it is that we are all connected. People and the environment don’t exist in different spheres, we are interdependent. That’s why at times like this, it is more important than ever to stay united, positive and appreciate all life.
Many of us are feeling the stress and anxiety of reading the news around the clock and being largely confined at home as we practice social distancing. This can take a huge toll on us, especially on people who can’t leave home at all due to health reasons, lack access to parks or conservation areas nearby, or who live in neighbourhoods that are unsuitable for outdoor walks due to safety concerns. That’s why we want to encourage you to connect with nature indoors, and here we tell you five ways how!
1. Learn how to make a bird feeder
Spring is an excellent time for admiring migrating birds, and if you can’t go birdwatching you can still help them and bring them to you by building a bird feeder at home. You can put it in your backyard, or in the tree next to your nearest bus stop. Sometimes, all you need is an empty wine bottle or an old peanut butter jar and a plant saucer, and some bird food (which you can purchase in most grocery stores). Bird feeders can be helpful for multiple species and if you make them large enough, they could feed many birds at the same time. Plus, you get to enjoy the joyful visit and singing of birds all day long!
2. Got kids? Keep them (and yourself) busy learning about nature
You can use this time to teach the young people in your life about nature without leaving home. If you are a grandparent, parent, sibling, or simply live with kids, ON Nature magazine’s Nature Notes will keep them out of trouble. My favorite one is the one about Backyard Wilderness. Who knew that some of the worms living in our garden could live for up to 50 years? You could also explore Ontario’s wild species and spaces through our free online magazine.
3. Get to know your non-human animal companions
If you have a pet, you’re lucky to be able to spend these times indoors with their companionship – but if you don’t, there are still many animals living in your home without you even noticing! Arthropods (which include insects, arachnids, myriapods, and crustaceans) are the most numerous and diverse group of animals on Earth. A 2016 study found that the average American home has approximately 100 arthropod species. Staying home will give you time to notice them, and it’s important we learn to respect them by appreciating the positive role they play in the wider ecosystem. So, don’t kill your house spider, it’s probably keeping your house free of ants and other tiny visitors, plus almost all Ontario’s spiders aren’t dangerous to humans.
4. Yellow stands for happiness
Not everyone has the privilege of a backyard. But if you have access to a window, make sure you get some sunshine! Even just looking out a window and admiring the birds passing by, squirrels and trees can make a difference in your daily mood. Studies have shown that having access to nature at home only through a window or in the form of live plants can improve memory, productivity and cognition.
5. Learn how to grow you own food
Spending more time indoors is the perfect excuse for starting a living garden. Growing food not only keeps us busy, but it teaches us new skills while leaving us time to reflect on our relationships with food. After all, food is nature, just like air or water; it’s a gift from the Earth that keeps us nourished. You don’t need to have a backyard (or even soil) to do this. Some of the most common herbs (like mint, basil and thyme) grow well in water, all you need is a glass with water, your herbs bought at the supermarket, and that’s it! You could also grow your favorite vegetables in water, such as avocados, green onions or lettuce.
How else are you connecting with nature without leaving home? We’d love to hear from you! You can leave a comment below or share your thoughts by tagging us on Twitter (@ontarionature), Facebook (@onnature) or Instagram (@ontarionature).
Melina Damian is Ontario Nature’s communications coordinator. She has an MES from York University, and she's passionate about environmental education and biodiversity conservation.