Looking for positives from the pandemic

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Covid-19 has brought about unprecedented changes to our daily lives. The events of spring 2020 have caused an unprecedented time of anxiety – which we can only hope never to experience again. We have all had to adopt different ways of living, including travelling less and taking on new eating and shopping habits. But has it all been bad?

A poll in the UK early into lockdown found that 85% of respondents wanted to see some of the personal or social changes they had experienced continue afterwards. Covid-19 has shown us that a new way of doing things is not just possible, but sometimes preferable.

Here are 10 positive outcomes arising from Covid-19:

  1. Pollution has reduced – Cleaner air is one of the biggest positive effects of the lockdowns on the environment. The combination of factories being closed and less traffic on the roads, has seen pollution fall globally.
  2. Reduction in carbon emissions – The drastic cut in air travel and reduced industry has seen a massive reduction in carbon emissions. If this trend continues, it is possible it will lead to the first fall in global emissions since 2008.
  3. Shift in food habits – Shopping restrictions and limited availability of some food products has led to an increase in home cooking and more seasonal, local shopping. People have discovered a newfound ability to cook from scratch, adapt recipes, and create new uses for leftovers. One in five people have widened their repertoire of recipes since lockdown began and 35 per cent are better at using leftovers to avoid food waste. These new habits can have huge implications for the future of sustainable food. Find out more about pledging to make your food habits more eco-friendly at coolfood.net/en/
  4. More mindful consumer behaviour – Covid-19 has shown us that we can survive without an infinite choice of goods to buy. Not being able to physically visit stores and having less choice has meant we have had to be more mindful about our purchases.
  5. Thriving wildlife – From cleaner air to liberated wildlife, Covid-19 lockdowns across the world appear to have had a number of positive effects on the environment. Venice rivers were clear for the first time in years and wildlife has been reclaiming their space, venturing into areas they would normally avoid because of people.
  6. Increased appreciation of nature – People have been eager to connect with the natural world after so much time inside. The start of lockdown saw a massive increase in online plant purchases as more and more people took to gardening and growing more vegetable gardens.
  7. Rediscovery of local environment – Our changing exercise habits have led many of us to discover local beauty spots on our doorstep on our daily walks and cycle rides.
  8. Rise in staycations – Travel restrictions and a cut in flights may see more of us choosing to holiday here in the UK.
  9. Increase in sustainable travel – Remote working has led to a reduction in cars on the road and an increase in people cycling and walking. Planned investment in pedestrian and cycle infrastructure will help encourage people to continue with these green transport options.
  10. Increase in community engagement – The overwhelming response to the call for volunteers from the NHS, shows we are a nation willing to support each other. For some, Covid-19 has brought us closer to our neighbours with the weekly ‘clap for carers’ and social distancing street parties have increased a feel of community and cohesion.

Once the spread of Coronavirus starts to slow, the world will not simply return to normal, it will be forever changed. We will need to focus on initiatives to make our communities more resilient: such as tackling pollution, looking at renewable energy, changing our food systems and the materials we use. This is a crucial point in history where we need to rebuild our economies with a focus on green technologies and environmental decision making in order to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

For more on the environmental impact of Coronavirus, take a look at the following articles: