The Coronavirus pandemic began in the Wuhan Province of China in late 2019 and, as we all know, has continued to impact our lives severely for coming up to a year now. During the first lockdown, you may have seen a few articles come out about minor unexpected improvements in environmental conditions as a result of the pandemic and the effective shutting down of the globe. Such events include seeing wildlife return and the skies clearing up of smog in countries such as China, India, and even right here in London.
These small events sparked a larger line of thought for me. How can we take the way we’ve adjusted in lockdown – through video calls, working from home, etc – and use it as a positive to build a more sustainable future?
- Sourcing locally
We have all heard of the horrors of the lack of PPE equipment in hospitals and care systems over the pandemic. So, what did the government and people do in response? We began to source locally. Local people, including my own mum, began to make hospital gowns, masks, and more to sell locally and help out.
Why can’t this be continued after the pandemic? I admit sourcing all our clothing locally is a bit ambitious – but you can do your bit by saying no to fast fashion and high street shops and turn to charity shops (who need your money a lot more than Primark or H&M!) instead.
Perhaps it’s time to say no to foreign holidays
- The year of the stay-cation
Domestic flights release 22x more CO2 emissions than if you were to make a similar journey on the Eurostar. Long haul and first-class flying increase CO2 emissions per person further still. Travelling alone? Well, that produces 4 times as many emissions as if it were a 4-passenger car.
The year of the stay-cation did wonders for our emissions, and our environment is thanking us for it. Perhaps it’s time to say no to foreign holidays and start looking at the local wonders instead. I personally had a great time in Norfolk this summer, just as good as a foreign holiday and with a fraction of the emissions and cost to the environment.
- Stay at home
28% of total greenhouse gas emissions were related to transportation in the USA in 2018. Transport by far releases the most carbon dioxide out of any economic sector. Staying at home to work also brings other benefits, such as better mental health and a better work-life balance. Save 2 hours on commuting, save on emissions, and get outside a bit more! So, where you can, working from home will help save our planet.
If we want to see a real difference, we’re going to have to start making sacrifices
- Time to get radical
I’ve spoken of the practical and very viable measures we can all do to help build a sustainable future, but now I want to touch upon some radical solutions. If we really want to reduce emissions, we may have to think about carbon budgeting our lives, and I mean everything in our lives.
If each person were given an annual ‘carbon budget’ they could not exceed without getting taxed, they would have to really think about what is important to them – whether that flight is really worth it, whether that Amazon package is worth it or perhaps you can walk to your local shop to get it instead.
If we want to see a real difference, we’re going to have to start making sacrifices. Whether that’s limiting the number of times you go abroad, making sure you travel as economically as possible or even carbon budgeting your life for a more radical solution. We’re going to have to start sacrificing some of the luxuries we’ve been blessed with if we’re going to make a meaningful impact and turn the tide of global warming around for the better.
Featured image by Photo by Singkham from Pexels. Image licence found here. No changes made to this image.
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