This Earth Day…

Joey Zwillinger
Published in
3 min readApr 22, 2020


Last weekend, after a full month at home, I took a bike ride with my three young kids to the local beach. When we got there, it was surreal. The weather was perfect, and there was almost nobody else in sight.

And as we played on the beach, we saw a strange grey mass on the sand. My three year old was the first to realize it wasn’t a rock — it was a massive seal! Thinking it was injured, we called the Marine Mammal Center to alert the staff. To my surprise, they said that this was happening all up and down the coast; as human traffic dropped dramatically on these beaches, sea elephant pups are now able to rest wherever they like.

We’ve all read about nature creeping back into our lives, but this is the moment it really dawned on me — when humans step back, nature takes over. It took these seal pups less than a week to seize the opportunity! And with millions of people staying at home, air travel essentially ceasing, and energy usage plunging, we’ve seen pollution levels plummet.

As I watched the pup sun herself on the beach, I wondered if we were going to seize the opportunity to tackle the next global issue of our time — climate change. The world has united in the face of one existential threat, but it’s hard to tell what effect this will have on the climate movement. I am now both more optimistic than ever about our ability to work together to solve extraordinary problems, and fearful that the progress we’ve made will be undone as public attention shifts away from climate issues.

Despite what short term environmental “silver linings” we’re seeing, the longer we look away, the faster we glide towards irreversible harm from a warming atmosphere. The US government has halted EPA enforcements, using this health crisis to unwind safeguards designed to protect Americans and global citizens from environmental damage. Oil prices are down, driving both fuel and plastic prices to the lowest in years. This will boost demand for harmful products like gas guzzling cars, single-use plastics, and sneakers made from petroleum (which is nearly all of them).

I hope this pause makes consumers realize how big of an impact their choices have; the clear skies we’re enjoying today are because of less consumption. But as we come out of this, with the cooperation of businesses like ours, maybe we can choose smarter consumption. That’s why at Allbirds, we’re labeling our products with the carbon emissions inherent in our products, which we believe to have some of the lowest footprints in the industry. But this labeling isn’t a way to brag; we are inviting everyone in the industry to do the same to allow consumers to make purchasing decisions based on not just aesthetics, quality, and price — but also their impact on the planet.

What gives me hope, above all else, is that the human race has been awoken to our interconnectedness. We are a resilient species, full of empathy and creativity. One day in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be on the other side of this pandemic thanks to human ingenuity and collective action. If we apply the same energy and willpower to climate change, one day in the slightly-more-distant future, I believe that, too, will be in our rearview mirror.