Is the Covid-19 outbreak a wake up call for the climate crisis and changing habits?

By Ian Granit

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives. It has disrupted our daily routines, caused widespread anxiety, sickness and death.  Governments around the world have responded, each in their own ways,  by taking unprecedented steps to shut down entire cities, encouraging work from home, banning  unnecessary travel and closing borders to slow the spread. The consequences will be felt for a very long time, not just that of the economy, but the anxiety and apprehension of going back to our daily routines and likelihood that social distancing could become the norm. This pandemic is a lesson that wherever you are around the world, whether you are rich or poor, or famous, we are all going through the same emotions and frustration.

Although our minds are pre-occupied with the pandemic right now, I can’t help but to wonder what effect staying at home is having on the planet. Over the past month, I have come across a few news headlines from various sources who are sharing positive news about the environmental impact of Covid-19. A few of them include: People in parts of India can now see the Himalayas; jellyfish have been spotted in the Canals around Venice; air Pollution is decreasing. I think this is the first time I have seen positive news about the environment since we entered a climate emergency. It’s a shame that the only time there is breakthrough for the climate crisis is a result of global tragedy. This is the wake up call.

What I have learnt is that the behaviours we are adopting during lockdown has the scope to solve the climate issue. I’m not saying we should all be locked in our houses and social distance forever, but we could adopt a different mentality. If we change our attitudes, consumption patterns, how we travel and interact with one another, we would be half way there. But I believe this can only happen if all members of society participate.  As i’ve said in the past in one of my previous articles, changing societal ways could solve the climate issue. What I dread is that people will go back to their previous way of life and the progress we have seen in environment will be lost.

The past 8 weeks has been a wake up call for myself. I used to spend a lot of time shopping online and buying a new outfit for the weekend. I used to buy trainers as if they were going out of fashion. I straightened my natural curly hair all the time because I hated it natural. I would spend hours on my phone scrolling through twitter and instagram, deciding which restaurants and bars in London to visit next….But during lockdown, I have embraced ‘natural’, stopped buying unnecessarily and decided to dedicate my time to how I can be ‘eco friendly’. My ‘Climate Issue’  Instagram account has welcomed me into a network with people around the world doing similar things and has enabled to share my own eco top tips and keep people updated on climate change. This has proven difficult at times as a lot of people don’t seem to be interested or knowledgeable and I think thats where the climate issue stems from- a lot of people don’t like change and this has been highlighted during this pandemic where there are individuals still not adhering to the measures.

I had no idea how unsustainably I was living before the pandemic. I have finally made the switch to biodegradable and natural beauty products and have avoided plastic packaging. I just can’t believe a global pandemic was the trigger for this change which I should have been adopted a long time ago. Unfortunately moments of crisis are moments of clarity.

Just over a month of staying at home, less vehicles on the road, less manufacturing and international travel has made such a difference for the environment which highlights that the effects of climate change are reversible. But sadly, the effects of Covid-19 are not, for the innocent lives that have been lost and we should not forget this.

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