COVID-19 and the lockdown have been difficult for most people, but there is a positive effect in the middle of all the turmoil, the influence on the planet’s ecosystem. This difficult time has taught us a lot about emissions and the environment.
We all need to work together
For many people, annual Earth day is often full of good intentions which never seem to last long. They can quickly become despondent when their efforts fail to produce results, or when few seem to share their enthusiasm in protecting the planet. Activists such as Louise Gund, who is also a successful Broadway producer, can be quite vocal and makes many valid points which many will agree with. However, before COVID-19, it seemed impossible for a comparatively small number of activists to make a significant difference. While businesses and government agencies were starting to take the threat to the environment more seriously, it was something which relied on everyone to work together. This seemed an unlikely reality, until many countries around the world went into lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the process, they reduced the pollution and greenhouse emissions.
Many people can work from home
Professions such as retail, construction and food production can never be done from home. Although, many sectors which previously claimed that staff needed to be in the office all or most of the time, found new ways to clear their workload as staff worked from home. This has played a big part in reducing the volume of traffic on the roads, resulting in lower emissions. Assuming things go back to a reasonable level of normality, home-working has been proven to work for a large number of people. It poses questions about whether this method of work could be continued, to keep down emissions and protect the environment, now that we have been shown it can work. Of course, there may be times when workers need to be physically present, but we’ve learned it’s not as often as we thought. The positive effect on the environment could also inspire people to look at other ways of saving energy.
People will find other ways to keep in touch, from a distance
With the temporary closure of social venues such as restaurants and bars, people found other ways to keep in touch. Some who lived within walking distance of each other, left the car at home and took advantage of their allowed exercise to walk to family and friends’ houses, even if it’s just to drop off essential supplies to their doorstep, then to stand back and catch a brief glimpse of them. While others had to make do with social media, video calls or the telephone, the impact on the environment was less than traveling to a venue to meet up in person. Clearly, the businesses being shut also meant less of an impact on the environment. It’s not a long-term solution for those businesses and for the livelihoods of their employees but may at least make people reconsider whether they can walk somewhere in future, as opposed to driving there or taking a bus.
We don’t need to use all those shops
With many shops deemed non-essential and having to shut during the pandemic, it has shown that we can make do without them, at least for a short time. Again, they employ people and are important, but in the near future, people may rethink how frequently they shop there. As well as the environmental implications of buying more clothes, furniture and other items from these shops. We as customers could ask ourselves if we really need to purchase them as often as we do. People like to save money, and if they’ve gone longer than usual without buying them, it could lead to cutting down. That means fewer emissions from the production and transportation of goods. The lack of takeaways (as delicious as some of them are) has led to more baking and home cooking being done.
We can shop locally
Having discovered that we can shop less, we’ve also learned we can shop locally, With many consumers reluctant to travel too far, the local shops have provided a safer way of getting essentials. Small shops which may have been overlooked before, in favor of supermarkets, have shown us that local outlets can provide what we need. While many shoppers who were classified as vulnerable, will have been reluctant to queue outside larger stores, local shops have provided a safer alternative. When “non-essential” shops re-open, we could continue that trend and keep emissions low by shopping closer to home, resulting in less travel or a shorter drive if need be. If others follow suit by shopping locally, this can have minimal impact on sales – with everyone shopping in their local area, and a higher reduction in emissions.
We don’t need to travel so much
Having discovered we don’t need to travel as much has shown positive results for the environment, and what can be achieved when we all (unintentionally) work together to reduce the damage to the planet. Holidays abroad are less essential compared to the privilege of being able to see our loved ones closer to home. For some, the lockdown has been an opportunity to discover new places closer to home, previously they would have driven a beauty spot a greater distance away.
We’ve proven (without trying) that we can make a positive impact on the environment. When lockdown is over, we can put into action some of the things we may have been forced to do, to stay local, work from home and focus on what matters to make the world a better place to live. This may mean that emissions will rise slightly, but if we consciously work together to minimize the impact on the environment, we can keep the rise to a minimum.
It may have taken a pandemic, but one positive thing to take away from this is that we’ve been given an insight that it is possible to preserve the planet for future generations.