COVID-19 making you depressed? Here are two tips to improve your mood—and Fort Wayne’s environment

“Think spring. Get outside. Do some good with your free time!”

I would encourage you to repeat this mantra over and over in a singsong voice.

As your resident Allen County environmentalist, the question I’m going to attempt to answer today is: What can I do with myself now that events are cancelled, and I’m not supposed to be around people and things are scary and strange with COVID-19? Or something to that effect.

My suggestion is to do something good for yourself, our community, and nature.

Go for a walk (or a plog?)

It’s lighter out later; the weather is getting nicer; you need some exercise, and it’s the perfect time now to spot trash that has been blowing around all winter. Get yourself a bag, some gloves or a handy grabber tool and start improving your neighborhood and your health at the same time.

Put your gloves to use, and pick up some litter on your next walk or jog.

You can jog, walk, bend, squat, and stretch to pick up litter as you go. Bring the kids to get them moving, too. Or bring someone else’s kids (whose parents have to be at work) and double your good deeds.

You may have heard of plogging, the Swedish-born trend of jogging combined with picking up litter. Call it what you will, picking up rubbish is more than an aesthetically pleasing thing to do. It also helps keep harmful trash from wildlife on land and water.

Animals get their heads stuck in containers. Plastic breaks up into tiny pieces in time, washing into the rivers only to make its way into our tap water and eventually our bodies.

So now that the gym is closed, use all that pent up enegry to get outside and start cleaning up trash around your neighborhood.

Plan your native plant landscaping for spring

One of the best things you can do for nature is to replace at least some of your landscaping with native plants. According to Sean Nolan, owner of Sanctuary Native Landscapes, it doesn’t take much to benefit local wildlife.

“You will be shocked to see the array of beneficial insects and birds that show up with the installation of a few natives,” Nolan says. “These plants and animals evolved together to provide food, shelter, and pollination for each other.”

Planting native species in your yard supports our local environment.

As spring approaches, this is the time of year when we are apt to dream about how to beautify our surroundings with plants. And the good news is that this year, you may finally have extra time for making lists and diagrams of just how to implement the ideal native sanctuary of your own.

It is relatively easy to play a part in restoring the natural habitat with consultation services or doing some independent research yourself. In case you need some help, locally appropriate native plants for northeast Indiana can be purchased at Riverview Native Nursery. This will ensure you are getting the right species to attract the birds and bugs you can enjoy watching as the season blooms (another fun thing to do with your time).

If there is anything beneficial about this COVID-19 crisis we are experiencing, it might be that we are getting a chance to slow down, focus on our health, help the environment, and do something positive for our community.

Read more articles by Jodi Leamon.

Jodi Leamon is a Fort Wayne native with degrees in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Biology from the University of Illinois Chicago. Send her your questions at [email protected]
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