I’ll state it bluntly. Coronavirus came on fast

giving absolutely no sh**s.

Holding your breath at the grocery store, on edge about people getting too close, constantly worrying about loved ones, and tortured by media headlines to scroll for hours on end in fear. Settling into this ‘new normal’ has been so very uncomfortable. For more than a couple months it’s been filled with uncertainty, worry, boredom, and living in the dark about what’s going on causing MUCH distress. I know that for many of us, it has drastically slowed down our daily lives. For others, it may feel busier than ever.

For a short while there were feelings of angst and anxiety and uncontrollable mood swings that led to lashing out at loved ones. After another short while there was the ‘loss of all motivation’ stage. Waking up in the morning felt purposeless, even though there was plenty of work to be done. This feels wrong to write.. like I should not admit that I (like you) am only human, or understand if you have gone or are going through something similar.

After these ‘coping’ mechanisms got old and quite frankly boring (like most other things during quarantine), something different transpired. It started after noticing that the skies looked a little more blue than I remember, so I admired. The air wasn’t quite so hard to breathe, so I took a breath. Mother Earth was working to heal herself. This was the first Spring I stopped to appreciate the complexity of the world around us, and marvel at the fact that the flowers and blooms are growing and changing every single day. It was almost ironic as the news and COVID-19 updates also changed… every single day.

So I began pondering this theory:

People are like plants. Either we grow, we adapt, or we die.

It’s quite simple really. This is a time of adaptation.

We’ve been plucked from the safety of our ‘normal’ lives and were put here, in this new and unfamiliar territory. I for one, would like to grow from this experience…

Forced confinement is icky. No one wants to be told that they can’t leave their house. But what if it wasn’t forced? What if you were free to leave at your leisure, go where you please, and do what you love? How would your life look different, and what if you were able to incorporate the two?

What the hell is she talking about?

I’m talking about moving forward.

It’s clear (to me) that this time, this experience was to teach us to be kind, mindful, considerate.. of both ourselves; our bodies, our minds, our relationships, our fellow human beings, and this Earth we all share. There will be more pandemics, more shelter in places (God forbid in the Winter!!), less fresh air, more people, less kindness, less greenery, less food….. you get it…. this reality will continue if we are not willing to change what our ‘normal’ means.

What if laying in a hammock with a homemade fresh squeezed lemonade and a great book was exactly what the Earth needed from you? What if planting a garden in your own back yard would help you and your communities thrive? What if we didn’t need so much to be happy? I’m not saying that things will change, or even that they have to change when things go ‘back to normal’…. but I encourage you to ask yourself, “What is normal?” and “Do I even want that?”

What if we all cared a little bit more about one another, a little bit more about this planet we live on? What if this is an opportunity to take a few steps back instead of constantly racing forward? What might it look like if we all grew food in our backyard and traded within our neighborhoods? What if we stopped relying fully on money and started relying on one another?

What if slowing down is necessary for human existence?

If Coronavirus has taught us (me) anything, it has taught us (me) how important it is to be prepared. It’s taught us (me) how important our loved ones are and how important it is to stay healthy.

Clean Water. Food supply. Fresh air. Healthy biodiversity. Are these aspects of our existence we can work to protect? Isn’t environmental protection a form of preparation? Doing things now, acting like we don’t have anymore time to waste, acting like the future of our children’s children will be directly impacted by our actions today — would that be more beneficial than scurrying and panicking when it is too late?

It’s scary to imagine a day when there is no more time. There is no more food because farms have been overtaken by tract housing. There is no marine life, and no such thing as clean water because of our (and when I say ‘our’ I do mean America’s) plastic addiction. It’s scary to imagine, but what if imagining – being afraid of of what could happen is what we need to wake up and adapt. It may be time to ask yourself how important the ‘stuff’ you are buying online really is. What do you really need?

This is real. This is now. This matters. The choices you and I make everyday matter.

The #clearbagnotplastic Movement is not about the Clear Bag Policy’s Stadium Bags (I mean, it is…) but really it’s about all of us learning to co-exist, and more importantly thrive. This is not a race to the finish line. This is about sustaining life’s beauty and beautiful moments, allowing our children and grandchildren to experience that beauty, and preserving the land and resources and life. It’s about being better. Being better to yourself and to those who will walk this Earth after you. It’s about minimizing your impact, consuming less, and redefining what you need. It’s about kindness. It’s about progress, not for progress sake, but for giving this world what it’s so desperately been begging for, a break from us taking and giving nothing in return.

When things do gradually ‘go back to normal’, what does that mean for you? What could it look like? Will you purchase a PVC plastic stadium bag, or choose an alternative? Will you buy your tomatoes in a plastic container, or choose to grow them yourself? The choice is yours, and only yours, and it matters. Change is difficult but adaptation is necessary for survival — and we as humans are extremely adaptive (I mean, just think about Covid-19!)

Every decision you make matters.

I’m not suggesting that you break away from your jobs to move to the wilderness, live off the land and ride horses bareback with no shoes (can you tell where my head has been at though?) I’m asking you to enjoy a breath of fresh air and decide how you personally want to move forward from all of this. Because we are all connected. We are all human beings.

We share the same air, the same water, the same ‘virus’. We are all a part of this, we are in this together.

Marinna Dilley, CEO of UnEARTH Netted Bag

Maybe you agree, maybe you disagree. Maybe you think this is an impossible task. This is a difficult time (in more ways than one..) If we seek to understand, if we are willing to listen and if we choose to respect everyone simply because they are a human being we can make progress, and we can adapt, and we can grow.

Wishing you all the ability to listen, understand, love, and share your kindness,

Marinna Dilley

CEO, UnEARTH Netted Bag