Updated: Apr 7, 2020
“In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” Dave Hollis
The environmental impacts of Covid-19 have been widely documented in the media recently, with inspirational stories of clear waters running through Venice and wild animals reclaiming old territories worldwide becoming iconic images of the pandemic as the global community looks for the positives in such difficult times.
Many barriers to cutting down carbon emissions, which were long-standing arguments for the impossibility of reversing climate change, have been forced down by the current situation.
The structure of businesses worldwide have been forced to change, with many people realising they can work effectively from home, spending more time with their children and families and cutting down on their carbon footprint significantly.
We’ve stopped all unnecessary car journeys and public transport provisions have dropped down to a minimum. In exchange, we’ve gained our commute time back and we’ve connected with our locality. We’ve been offered an opportunity to re-evaluate our lives and cherry pick the positives and necessities on the other side.
Now, by no means are we suggesting that our new-normal is a better normal; these changes have been forced upon us by a devastatingly dangerous pandemic and, for many, the negatives far outweigh the positives. The global lockdown has, however, given mother nature a moment to show us how she can heal and how the environmentally friendly lifestyle changes that millions of people campaign for can truly be effective.
Satellite pictures of China, India, Europe and the US all show significantly lower temperatures and decreased emissions.
This is all fantastic and people are jumping for joy about it, however this is where a new Turtle Straws analogy comes in…
We all know someone who has been on a crash diet where they have eaten 800 calories of chicken and broccoli for six weeks and lost two stone. Then the second they reach the end of the diet they go back to the nice things in life: bread (delicious bread), chocolate, beer, pudding, butter and, BANG, the weight goes straight back on.
A crash diet isn't a sustainable way of living. It might be a useful way to look nice for a wedding or your last minute trip to Marbella, but what we really want is a sustainable lifestyle to look after our health - not yo-yo dieting - and the same thing goes for the climate.
We need to be able to exist in a world where we can go outside, where we can get in our cars or go on holidays; a healthy planet where its inhabitants are only able to go out for an hour a day isn't sustainable and sounds just as apocalyptic as a world that’s on fire from climate change and has oceans brimming with plastic.
So where is the middle ground? How can we eat cake but not put on weight? How can we maintain a healthy planet whilst also allowing ourselves luxuries?
It’s all about small, sustainable changes… Two such changes that we’d encourage people to continue do as much as possible once we’re released from lockdown are:
Working from home (whenever possible); you get more sleep, work more efficiently (not distracted by Sandra and Karen talking about their most recent juice cleanse), sit through less pointless meetings, spend more time with your kids/family and most importantly, less need to commute. Environmental impact: cutting down your carbon emissions every time you set up your home-office camp.
Shopping local: walking to your local shops, buying produce that has a much lower carbon footprint itself, being more resourceful with the food/products you buy, creating less waste.
Not everyone can work from home or walk to the shops, but if we can then why not, it's doing its bit for our planet, for us and it’s a simple, sustainable way to reduce our carbon footprint.