Earlier this week I watched a video of a trio of penguins sauntering along a sidewalk in Simon’s Town, South Africa. With billions of people on COVID-19 lockdown, the empty block must’ve been too tempting to resist. The dapper penguins were among the many taking advantage of vacant streets, courtyards and parks. ABC News published a compilation of curious animals entering spaces that are usually off limits. Jackals are roaming a park in Tel Aviv, Israel, coyotes are popping up near the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, and fallow deer rested on a grassy hill outside a home in Harold Hill, England.
Animals aren’t the only ones who’ve benefited from the worldwide stay-at-home mandates. Mother Nature has gained a much-needed reprieve. The canals in in Venice, Italy, haven’t been this clear in decades. Without the constant churn, pollution and commotion of boats and people, more animals such as dolphins, swans and ducks, along with fish and jellyfish, are enjoying the bluer waters. Air pollution has also dropped in major cities around the world—by a lot! The human footprint has lightened, and the environment is greatly improving.
All this comes as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this week. The planet’s rebound after weeks of people staying indoors was a sober reminder that we’re still falling short of protecting it. As we hunker down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we should all think about the ways we can continue this momentum. Can we change our behaviors once we’re allowed to leave our homes? Or will we just continue to muck up our planet?
Many self-storage operators have taken steps to be more eco-friendly. They’re adding solar panels, cool-roof systems and insulating glass windows, and introducing digital leases. Several are also making the transition to LED lighting. StayLock Storage, for example, is installing LED lighting at 19 of its locations. Company officials say the new lights will boost brightness and uniformity while increasing safety and efficiency.
StorQuest Self Storage took another approach to spread the eco-friendly word. The company recently unveiled a seven-story mural at its Oakland, Calif., facility urging people to care for the earth. Titled “Love Me Before I’m Gone,” the artwork by local street artist Ruben Rojas is intended to urge the community to help heal the planet.
A byproduct of the pandemic that also might be considered “green” is the move by many operators to contact-free self-storage rentals. Not only does this aid in social distancing, the transactions occur online, which translates to less paperwork and at least one less trip to the facility. The use of more technology in the industry could be another step toward saving the planet.
Regardless if you’re a self-storage manager, owner, developer, investor or vendor, you have an opportunity—and a duty—to act. We’ve been given a chance to turn things around. In the coming weeks, we’ll all emerge from our homes and be eager to get back out into the world. Can we do this with a little bit more care? Maybe you continue to conduct Zoom meetings rather than everyone driving to a specific location. Perhaps you’ll consider LED lights or solar panels. Or maybe you simply try to use less plastic. Just look for ways you can make a difference. Other self-storage companies are already taking these steps. What can you do?