Loyola University Chicago

School of Environmental Sustainability

Sustainability in the Time of COVID-19 Coronavirus

We are in a period of uncertainty, anxiety, and confusion. How do we come together to support each other, stay productive, and stay safe?

How do we continue to advance our values of environmental and social justice?

How do we make good decisions and not let fear drive us apart from our care for the earth and each other?

For those in the Loyola community that are still seeking opportunities to work on sustainability and justice, we’ve collected these resources. Hopefully there are some ideas you may not have considered, and some others you are already doing. If you have other ideas to add, please contact us at sustainability@luc.edu and we can update this list.

Be Well and Do Good,

Aaron Durnbaugh

Loyola Director of Sustainability


Working from home

For those using online and phone to get your work done, congratulations, you are already reducing your footprint! Tele-commuting can cut down on transportation miles and often the technology provider is powered by clean energy (see Microsoft, Adobe, and Google).   

Loyola’s Libraries are still available to support you including sustainability in your academic work. Visit this resource page or contact them directly.

Physical distancing, not social distancing

One of the things that make societies resilient is our social infrastructure. Our network of friends and family help us in difficult times so reach out, connect, but do it in a safe manner. This article has a number of creative ideas to connect and avoid undue risk.

Here are some other ideas from the New York Times on how to think about your impact while maintaining changed behavior.

Get outdoors

Just because we have to reduce exposure, doesn’t mean we need to be trapped inside. If you are feeling well and the weather allows, go for a walk, run, or bike ride. Parks and Forest Preserves are open. Birds and wildlife are starting to awaken from the winter and it’s a great time to get out and soak up some sun. The Openlands Get Outside Map is a terrific resource.

Practice self-care

  • Wash your hands (cold water, off while suds-ing)
  • Avoid close contact (if you are in public keep your distance from others)
  • Stay home if you’re sick (follow this guidance if you don’t feel well)
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect (sorry but don’t use your home-made cleaners, follow this guide for effective disinfection agents you can find at home)

Do what you can to stay healthy. Get plenty of sleep. Drink lots of water. Eat healthy and get exercise. A healthy body is better prepared to fight off the virus should you be exposed.

For other information on preventing Coronavirus see the CDC.

Get active in other ways

You may find yourself with time in which you still want to take sustainability action. Consider the following;

  • Volunteer where you are needed – If you are healthy, there is still need in shelters, soup kitchens, and food pantries. Ecological restoration sites and community gardens may need your help. You may also be able to volunteer remotely including phone-banking for the election, fundraising for a charity, or participating in other advocacy efforts.
  • Watch a sustainability film or documentary – All streaming services host terrific documentaries on sustainability topics. Search for “sustainability documentary” and your favorite streaming service to find what’s available. Here is a link to a list of over 100 different films.
  • Consider an “Examen” – An Examin is a traditional method of prayerful awareness on a specific topic. You can become more mindful about what we are experiencing and identify areas for action or growth. Two examples are available at the Ignatian Solidarity Network: Examen for Life during Covid-19 and Reflecting on Care for Creation: A New Ignatian Ecological Examen .
  • Take advantage of all the amazing offerings that are moving online. Check out these offerings from partner organizations:

Coronavirus and Climate Change

We are seeing an environmental impact from the spread of this virus. Air travel has been vastly reduced. Industries have closed and air quality in these areas has benefitted. At the same time work to address climate, from research to installing clean energy has been negatively impacted. So what should we learn about climate change in understanding this public health emergency?

  1. Earlier action leads to less impact and less cost. Communities that take aggressive action on Coronavirus can “flatten the curve” saving lives and allowing more capacity to tend to those that get sick. This is exactly like climate change, in that if we would have addressed our emissions when we knew of the problem this would not only have reduced the impacts, it would have given us more options in the solutions available to address a changing climate. This chart shows the impacts of delaying action in meeting the 2 degree Celsius target in the Paris Accord, and is a stark reminder of the challenge facing us to avert major climate catastrophe.
  2. A disregard for science leads to poor outcomes. This article in Science is a stark call for decision-makers that listen to scientists on managing infectious disease and include it in their policy-making and public communication. This has been a long-time criticism of inaction on climate change. The science of climate change has been settled for some time and yet policy-makers have been influenced by the politicization and efforts by entrenched entities.
  3. Human psychology has a difficult time dealing with uncertain risk. The challenges and solutions are clearly understood and yet the actions can seem disconnected and far off. Find ways to simplify the issue of climate change and take actions that you can feel confident are making a positive impact. This article has 17 straightforward questions and answers on climate change that can help you get to work. Take control of your understanding of the issue and engage those around you to decrease doubt and increase action.

Other resources: