Sustainability and Resilience During COVID-19


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As we navigate these unprecedented and uncertain times in our lives and as a community, we invite you to stay engaged in sustainability. We have compiled a list of suggestions and resources to practice the Michigan Governor's call to Stay Home, Stay Safe.  

We also invite you to Learn More about sustainability actions at the City of Ann Arbor.  ​

Stay​​ Home  

We are all adjusting to a new reality that involves staying in our homes as much as possible. Here are a few ideas for keeping your home clean, stocked with essentials, and equipped to provide a productive workplace.  ​


The basics of staying safe and managing your household in this age of coronavirus are explained in this intuitive COVID 19 Leadership course. Don't forget to review the CDC Guidelines for the most recent recommendations.  

Talk to your kids about coronavirus with these handy tips.  ​

Shopping for Essentials    

If you have to venture into public to gather essentials, make sure to keep yourself protected.​

Follow these tips for stocking up on essential items only. Avoid hoarding to make sure there are enough supplies for all to go around.  

While you're out shopping for grocery essentials, consider this guide on saving money.  

If hand sanitizer is sold out, try making your own, or check out the Ann Arbor Distillery's hand sanitizer.   

​​Many grocery stores in Michigan no longer allow you to bring reusable bags into their stores, so check with them before you grab your bags. If you are using reusable bags, make sure to clean them frequently. Otherwise, ask the cashier for paper bags that can be recycled instead of plastic. Or, better yet, put your groceries back into your cart and pack them in your reusable bags at your car.  And watch this tutorial on how to disinfect your groceries.  ​

​​​​​Weatherize your home

​​As winter brings with it the cold Michigan weather, try some of these Energy Saving Tips​​!

Energy saving tips_COVID19.pdf

Working From ​Home  

Working from home has become the new norm for many, but it doesn't have to turn your workday upside-down. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you settled into this new way of working.  

Take a tour of remote workspaces for further inspiration.  And if you manage a team, see this article for a guide to effective remote management.  ​

Stay Healthy  

Our new shared reality may also pose new challenges to our familiar health routines, including staying active, getting the right nutrients, and tending to our mental health. See some resources below to help keep you and your family's health in check.  ​


As you spend most of the time at home, it's important to keep your body active. Consider a no-equipment-needed exercise plan or explore on of the many free online exercise platforms for all types of classes.  Make a new ritual of walking/biking or exploring new areas of Ann Arbor on our extensive bike and pedestrian pathways. If you're up for exploring the great outdoors, Michigan's state parks are still open during Gov. Whitmer's “Stay Home, Stay Safe" order (though, please minimize travel as much as possible).  ​


Explore USDA's list of healthy eating resources here to keep your nutritional needs in balance. Learn about the carbon footprint of your diet and check out videos to help you transition to some low-carbon plant-based meals. Reduce your food waste by reading these tips. If you still find you have food waste, Ann Arbor's compost collection for 2020 began on April 6. Alternatively, consider starting a compost pile in your own backyard.  


Keep your immune system functioning at its best by familiarizing yourself with Harvard Medical School's guide to boosting your immune system. 

​Good sleep helps you manage stress and anxiety better, among other things. Practice healthy ​sleep hygiene' to make sure you are well-rested. It is an understandable time to have increased anxiety and stress. Be mindful of you and your family's stress levels and consider starting some mindfulness practices, a journaling routine, or utilize these tips to de-stress with kids. If you need to talk to someone or want more helpful tips for managing stress, use Washtenaw County's line at 734-544-3050.   ​

Stay Con​nected  

As we take precautions to stay home and practice safe distancing, it is imperative that we stay connected to friends, family, and community. Whether you are staying connected with your own family or with your entire neighborhood, creating opportunity for social interaction will help us whenever this pandemic better together.  ​

Home Activ​ities  

If we are to make the best use of these uncertain times, we can ​​work towards becoming more self-reliant and improve our sustainability practices at home. Find out what your household carbon footprint is through EPA's handy online calculator. This will help you understand your current impact and how to minimize your household's carbon footprint. Consider switching your lawn to a native ​groundcover or install a rain garden – you may even qualify for a City stormwater credit

  • You can find healthy lawn care tips at Southeastern Oakland County's Water Authority.  Shop Local Online! Help keep our cherished local Ann Arbor small businesses alive by purchasing gift cards online for future use and posting positive reviews on Yelp and Google.
  • If you're not shopping locally, be sure to learn about sustainability-oriented businesses through the B-Corps directory and vote with your dollar.  
  • Declutter! Read about the benefits of de-cluttering your home and remote workspace, and get some tips from the master herself, Marie Kondo. Turn on a nature cam to set up a relaxing atmosphere for de-cluttering. Donate the items you don't want to your local Goodwill or drop-off bin.  
  • Get all hands on deck for some great upcycling and recycled activities with kids to reuse household materials before recycling them.  
  • Learn more about our great state by reading books about Michigan with your kids or on your own.  
  • Play Energy Bingo with the family.  
  • Explore the National Education Association's and the EPA's resources for children's environmental education activities.  
  • Explore Sustainability with the family - Sustainability lesson plans   

Nei​ghborhood Pr​ojects   

The situation we currently face gives us an opportunity to reflect and build more of the sustainable and resilient community we'd like to see. Now is the time to come together with your neighbors and build a thriving community today and into the future.  

  • Keep your elderly and vulnerable neighbors in mind and offer to help them with groceries or errands. Use this note template to let them know who to call for assistance or utilize the NextDoor's new “Help Map". However, make sure to stay safe and thoroughly sanitize items, to reduce the chance of passing on the virus.  
  • Food Gatherers is still open! Consider donating food to help those in need most during this time.   
  • Host a pop-up concert in your front yard​ or share poetry with your neighbors while maintaining a safe distance. Leave invitations for your neighbors ahead of time so they know when the show starts!  
  • Organize a neighborhood-wide front yard art show like this community or a bear/stuffed animal neighborhood safari hunt.    
  • Leave fun messages for neighbors using chalk on sidewalks.   
  • Host a virtual neighborhood clean-up where residents can pick up trash during their walks.  
  • ​ Organize a bike parade ​in your neighborhood by having each child decorate their bikes and maintaining a safe distance while showing off their creations to the neighbors.  
  • Learn about Resilience hubs that can help your neighborhood be better prepared for emergencies.
  • There are many benefits to having more greenery in your neighborhood and you can start planning a tree-planting project.   

​Get Involved 

Learn More

The work we do to create more sustainable and resilient households and neighborhoods in Ann Arbor is an important part of a bigger effort. Take time to learn about local, national, and international sustainability programs and issues.