Can We Save the Planet in the Middle of a Pandemic?

Can We Save the Planet in the Middle of a Pandemic?

COVID-19 has forced us to slow down, and Mother Nature is thanking us for it. To say that the past year has been a roller coaster ride is an understatement. A worldwide phenomenon has affected millions of people’s lives. It has reached almost every corner of the world and left its mark. Many of us have lost our jobs or been furloughed, faced lockdown after lockdown and were not able to travel home to visit our family or see friends. And to make matters worse, this global pandemic might have taken away our loved ones.

However, amongst the struggle, there is hope that it has actually taught us something. With shops and many entertainment venues closed, 2020 was the year when simple and conscious living got redefined. It was the year that we finally understood what was really important, realising that what we actually need has surrounded us this whole time: a roof above our heads, a healthy family and supportive friends. 

The environment finally took a deep breath.

When the world was forced to take a holiday, nature was grateful. For the first time in decades, the Himalayas were seen from 125 miles away because the pollution levels dropped. More than 70,000 sea turtles nested on deserted Indian beaches, and nearly 100 critically endangered sea turtles hatched in Brazil and were also spotted on beaches across the world. Importantly, the cancelled work-commute has resulted in temporarily cleaner air too. The environment finally took a deep breath – but we need to keep this going. Climate change is real, and it is the greatest issue of our lifetime. 

In October 2018, The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C, emphasizing that limiting global warming would require rapid and extraordinary changes in all areas of society. Tackling climate change is not an individual’s task alone. Corporations and governments all have to weigh in and make the changes that secure the lives of future generations on this planet. But we can also do something about it, even in the middle of a pandemic. All action, big or small, matters, especially when multiplied. 

Here are 10 things you can do for the environment right now:

1. Use what you already have. Stop impulse buying and focus on what you really need. Think about all that unnecessary shipping and transportation that pollutes the air just to get you something you bought out of boredom.

2. Leave your car at home. When travelling, instead of driving a car, try to opt for public transport or cycling, or even better, walking. The Mayor of London pledged to ensure that London’s transport system will be zero-emission by 2050 and all the buses to be hybrid by 2020, but you can never be too sure.

3. Reduce meat consumption. By now we all know that the meat and dairy industry are two of the most unsustainable industries. They are alone responsible for 14.5 % of global greenhouse gas emissions. If you are up to the challenge and open to change your lifestyle, you can start your Veganuary anytime in the year.

4. Buy from bulk shops. If you are giving veganism a go, you will need lots of legumes for your protein intake (among other things). Why not look around in your neighbourhood and see if your local bulk shop offers plastic-free delivery during these difficult times? Bulkmarket or The Source (Battersea, Chiswick, West Hampstead,) offers all the essentials supermarkets do, only in paper packaging or in your own container. You can support something small and also shop consciously, it’s definitely a win-win. 

5. Support small businesses. Why not get your fresh produce or favourite croissant from your local shop next time? There are many eco-friendly business or organic shops out there who are struggling and heavily rely on the support of their local community. With minimal or no advertising budget at all, they can’t compete with supermarket chains. Don’t forget to spread the word on social media and to always leave a review.

6. Don’t forget your reusable cup. There are many coffee shops open for takeaway and some even let you bring your own coffee cup and pastry bag. They also offer discounts or give you loyalty stamps on your purchase. If you already own one, try to bring it with you the next time you are out. Think of all those single-use cups that can’t be recycled. What a waste.

7. Say ‘No’ to plastic bags. This one hopefully goes without saying: refuse plastic bags wherever possible. Plastic film and carrier bags can’t be recycled and they end up polluting our oceans. It’s best to bring a tote bag from home each time or worst case, reuse your bag for life and drop it at a supermarket carrier bag collection point when it’s reached the end of its life.

8. Embrace DIY projects. Try to reduce thrown away rubbish on our streets and make your own reusable mask. You can easily clean it with soap and warm water or in your washing machine. And while you are at it, look for recipes to make your own hand sanitizers and ditch plastic gloves once and for all.

9. Email your local MP. Express your concerns regarding climate change and ask for an anti-plastic legislation. Martin Dorey’s book, No. More. Plastic. has a really good template to use.

10. Grow your own forest for FREE. Did you know that you can plant a tree in seconds, from the comfort of your own home? This genius app called Treeapp is on the mission to make tree planting accessible for people all around the UK. All you have to do is to watch the displayed eco friendly businesses’ ads and they plant your tree in 90 days. Yes, it’s that simple.

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