It has been difficult to say anything good about COVID-19. “Unprecedented” does not begin to describe the magnitude of the pandemic on health, economic impact, and the disruption it has caused to global communities.
Reflecting on the time that we have spent at home during this period has taught us a great deal about the importance of sustainable living and the power of small actions. As we slowly transition into a post-COVID world, we must advocate for a just recovery – an opportunity for governments to prioritize vulnerable communities and the environment when rebuilding the economy. Learn more about what a just recovery entails here.
Although it is for a tragic reason, the changes in our lifestyles have seemed to have a temporary positive effect on the environment. With the world on lockdown in early April, studies have shown that the daily global carbon emissions were down 17 percent in comparison to the year prior. With industries and transport networks being shut down, New York has seen its levels of pollution cut down by 50 percent, and 71 percent in India. However, we cannot expect these trends to continue as we move out of lockdown. As we are slowly recovering, we are just 5 percent lower in our emissions relative to this time in 2019. Many warn that we will experience even more traffic, pollution or household waste from things like medical masks or online packages. Frankly, it should not require extreme social restrictions and health concerns for us to see the environment heal. In order for us to have a truly stable and sustainable impact, we must be consistent in our actions.
Once quarantine comes to an end and our lives go back to “normal”, our individual actions will once again affect all aspects of Earth’s natural systems, from agriculture to pollution to the overall climate. With that, we picked out a few lessons that we have learned from our experiences during lockdown that we hope you keep in mind to truly help the planet and ensure a Just Recovery moving forward.
1. Change is the New Normal
If you had told us last year that we would be in a global lockdown for a majority of
the year and almost every aspect of our lives was online, it would seem bizarre. We have already adapted to and accepted so many changes in our lives. Perhaps we could start becoming more open to making deliberate changes in our lives such as going waste-free, shopping consciously, or incorporating plant-based options into our meals, in order to reduce the speed of climate change and help underserved communities.
2. Take Care of Yourself
This pandemic has made us appreciate what is important in our lives and how crucial it is to care of ourselves. Walking and spending time in nature is a fantastic de-stresser that reduces your carbon footprint compared to going to a movie theatre or shopping mall. We have more time for activities like gardening or taking on DIY projects, which have personally reduced our anxiety, waste, and pollution. By constructing new habits to better ourselves, we can work towards building a more sustainable lifestyle. Check out CSRS’ other blog posts for sustainable living tips and tricks!
3. Encourage Others to Take Bigger, Bolder Actions towards a Just Recovery
This pandemic has proven to us that more often than not, people want to contribute to something bigger than themselves. Motivate yourself and those around you to be agents of positive change. Share trustworthy information about sustainability on social media, shop from BIPOC-owned businesses, talk about the need for a Just Recovery with your friend, and stay educated on the climate crisis! Even seemingly minor actions are meaningful.
Overall, we must choose to build the future we want. We cannot simply admire the environmental benefits of the world on lockdown and accept that as climate justice. We must play a part in protecting our planet in the present day, as well as in the uncertain future ahead. By recognizing these lessons and the responsibility that we share for our environment, we can slowly work towards building a better version of ourselves and the Earth itself!