As we come out of lockdown, we are likely to see attitudes towards the environment change, and with this, changes in our habits. Lockdown has proven that we are ready and able to make adjustments and sacrifices for the sake of the larger picture, so let’s think about how we can alter our habits in the long run and keep carbon emissions at an all time low.
During lockdown, we have experienced what scientists are now calling an “anthropause”, meaning the temporary slowdown in human activity across the globe — to the overwhelming benefit of other species. Let’s take a close look at what impact this pause has had and how we can maintain environmental efforts after lockdown has been lifted.
The impact of the anthropause
Every day we are edging closer and closer to a ‘new normal’. We’re seeing lockdown restrictions in the UK gradually lift, and many other countries such as Spain and Italy are reopening their borders and allowing businesses to get back up and running. We may still feel a long way from full normality, but we’re certainly seeing some big changes that will propel us towards our new day-to-day.
However, before we spring right back to ‘normal’, we should consider the changes we’ve gone through under lockdown, how these changes have altered our attitudes, and which of these new ways of thinking we’d like to hold on to. One thing is for sure — we’ve embraced ‘slow living’, a calmer way of life that benefits both the individual and the environment. The changes we’ve made during lockdown have had a transformative effect on the world around us, proving that striving for real environmental change is truly possible.
As countries from around the globe shut down their industries and began to restrict travel, we saw incredible environmental results. In Europe, we witnessed a clean-up in air pollution that has resulted in 11,000 fewer deaths; carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by 25 per cent in China, as well as around 10 per cent in New York; satellite images have documented the gradually fading away of air pollution, including a drastic decrease of nitrogen dioxide over Northern Italy. On top of this, we’ve seen inspiring pictures of the newly crystal-clear canals of Venice, and many instances of native wildlife returning to cities.
Of course, these huge environmental changes haven’t been down to conscious eco-friendly efforts as much as they’ve been a happy side effect to lockdown life. However, these miraculous occurrences have proven beyond doubt that we can change our ways to the benefit of the planet.
How can we keep up our effort for the environment?
With visible changes to our planet, come major changes to our attitudes. Consider the ways in which you could maintain this momentum and lead a more eco-friendly life.
Cut out the commute
Although we will likely see many cars back on the roads after lockdown is fully lifted, cutting down on transport wherever possible is one of the best ways to stick to a greener lifestyle. After all, transport makes up a quarter of carbon emissions, which is one reason why we’ve seen such a massive dip since we’ve been largely confined to our houses.
With many offices now open to remote working as a permanent option, more people than ever will have the option to cut out the commute and reduce their daily carbon emissions.
Shopping sustainably is yet another way to minimise your carbon footprint and make a real change. Throughout lockdown, we’ve seen an increase in community spirit, with many people making the change to shop locally and support small businesses. As well as boosting local economies, shopping nearby will have a long-lasting positive impact on the environment, reducing air miles, and cutting costs.
As well as shopping within the community, consider shopping second-hand. To you, this might mean scouring charity shops or investing in antique jewellery. Either way, your newfound love for second-hand treasures will benefit the environment while also allowing you to find some unique and charming investment pieces.
Take a staycation
Finally, consider your holiday habits post-lockdown and give stepping onto your next long-haul flight some extra thought. Long-distance flights are one of the main culprits of air pollution and global warming, and we’ve seen the miraculous effect of cutting down on air traffic over the past few months. But just because you’re not jetting off abroad doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a holiday! Once it is safe to do so, plan a staycation and visit a corner of the country you’ve never had the opportunity to explore before. Even when lockdown is lifted, there will be plenty of ways that you can make a difference and ensure that carbon emissions stay as low as possible. We’ve seen that big changes are possible, so why not make some lockdown habits more long-term and strive for a happier and healthier planet.