According to the BBC, no other world-wide crisis has enabled us to cut our carbon emissions quite like the way covid-19 has done.
With no planes in the air, no cars on the road, and no offices using up vast amounts of electricity; our carbon output saw it’s most dramatic drop of one billion tonnes.
To put that in some kind of context, The International Energy Agency, says the world will use 6% less energy in 2020. That’s the equivalent to losing the entire energy demand of India.
So now we know that carbon emissions can be cut, has that changed our attitude to becoming more conscious of the environment we live in?
Appreciating our green space
During the enforced UK lockdown, we were only able to go for one walk a day. To many of us, this time enabled us to reconnect to nature in a way we have perhaps never done in our lives. A walk is often at the bottom of a to-do-list when we’re busy juggling work and care responsibilities. But what happens when everything stops? Suddenly a walk is a welcome relief.
Our gardens also became a sanctuary away from the four walls we had to spend every waking hour within, with some of us even taking up gardening for the first time and renovating our garden space. According to reports, the Royal Horticultural Society saw a third of a million Brits visit their website for advice on growing potatoes, tomatoes and strawberries. Online retail sales for garden related products also saw an increase of 162%, as more of us decided to enhance our green space.
While it may not have been at the top of our bucket list for 2020, without a doubt, this pandemic has led many of us to reflect on those spaces that mean the most to us.
It may have felt like an illusion to step out on a sunny day during lockdown and think about how clear the sky was, or how noisy the birds were. But this isn’t a dream; the beautiful side-effects of coronavirus has seen nature thrive.
Overall the pandemic has been a threat to humans and animals alike, but according to reports from New Scientist, some species have seen great benefits from the world taking a step back. Wild bees have increased due to the lack of air pollution, and one study has found that whales stress hormone dropped due to the reduction in shipping freights on the oceans.
Attitudes towards waste
Before the outbreak of coronavirus, you couldn’t turn on the news without hearing about plastic pollution and the worldwide threat this was posing on our environment.
Unfortunately, this hasn’t stalled during coronavirus, but it has made many of us reflect on how we buy things and where we buy things from.
As many people have faced financial hardship during the pandemic, it has meant more of us have had to be considerate of our buying decisions.
In the early days of the pandemic supermarkets simply could not keep up with the demand due to stock-piling, which led many people to discover local markets and independent shops once again—something which has been slowly dying on the local high street.
The benefit of buying local and buying independent is vast. Not only do you support your local economy, but you also gain a better understanding of where your food has come from.
With local tips shut during the lockdown, we have quite literally been faced with how much rubbish we create. This has also been the case for many who have gone on a ‘decluttering’ splurge and realised just how much stuff they need to take to the charity shop.
Our ability to over-consume has become apparent as we’ve sat and realised what we really need, and what we’re influenced to buy.
Changing our homes
For some of us being on furlough and in lockdown, the experience has given us the opportunity to embark on those DIY projects that we’ve never quite got around to.
According to Property Reporter, nearly two-fifths of Brits embarked on home DIY during lockdown.
However, with many construction companies and building firms working on essential works only, it’s given people a real insight into the way construction rubbish is handled.
It’s often taken for granted that such construction waste can be ‘thrown in the bin’ when the reality is often far different.
As certified waste removers by the Environment Agency, at AJ Grab Hire we are all too aware of how sensitively waste must be handled to ensure it is disposed of in the most responsible way.
During this lockdown, we have no doubt that the home projects taking place will have given many people a chance to think about where all of their waste actually ends up.
It may come as a shock to you that many supermarkets were once unable to do anything with their food waste. Leaving thousands of pounds worth of consumable food to the bins.
Thankfully, this is all changing with more supermarket brands signing up to charities such as FareShare, who take the food waste from supermarkets and provide it to homeless shelters, food banks and other charities who work with those unable to buy themselves a meal.
During the lockdown, charities such as FareShare saw a dramatic increase in need. Not only from those who were homeless but also the elderly and the vulnerable.
As stock-piling got out of hand in the early days of the pandemic, many of the elderly were simply unable to visit a shop to get the essential food items they needed.
Looking back over the past four months of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear that as a society we have been faced with our biggest challenge which has ultimately given us insight into what life could be like if we were all to be more environmentally conscious.
Do we need to travel as much?
Do we need to buy as much stuff?
Do we need to keep throwing everything in the bin?
Now that we have seen how clean and beautiful our world can be when we take a step back let’s hope we all continue to make more of an effort to preserve the world we have.
AJ Grab Hire
Bury St Edmunds