Before we embrace 'normality', and return to our day-to-day lives and lifestyles, we need to step back and consider the impact our 24/7 lives have on the world...
We may not have thought about it much before, but, whilst we have all been confined to our homes, the environment around us has flourished. In Venice, with fewer boats on the canals, the murky waters are now crystal clear, and, for the first time in years, swans, fish, and seabirds have returned. Elsewhere, animals, not normally seen, have been making their presence known in cities across the world, with wild boars taking to the streets of Barcelona, and, in America, both Pumas and Coyotes have been spotted taking it easy, whilst in Argentina, cows and Flamingos have been seen enjoying time at the beach!
However, the most dramatic change has been seen in the air quality across our towns and cities. In fact, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels have fallen by as much as 60% over the same period last year. Imagine how much better that is for our health.
In India, air quality in 90% of cities across the country, has improved dramatically, and, for the first time in 30 years, people in Punjab, can now see the Himalayas.
So yes, whilst coming out of lockdown is cause for celebration, as it means we have managed to temper the spread of this pandemic, it is also time for us to consider, how we can make some small changes to our lives.
And that means we need to put aside ‘self and ego’ and embrace a new mindset. One that goes beyond profits and short-term gain, because we cannot safeguard our future, and the future of mankind, based on our current thinking or working practices.
The truth is, we all have the opportunity to be part of the solution; working together, we can ensure the future we create, works within better economic, environmental and social guidelines, so, the legacy we leave. is one that restores, rejuvenates and works in harmony with people, place, and planet.
Looking forward, we can judge our tomorrows, not on the scars of yesterday but on the actions we take today.
So what can we do to make a positive difference? here are five simple things we can all do that will help us reduce the impact we have on the world.
So what can we do?
Here are five simple things we can all do that will help us reduce the impact we have on the world.
1 WALK MORE…
It may sound a little lame, but we really do need to put down our car keys and walk more. Reducing the number of car journeys, we all make, will significantly reduce the amount of harmful emissions that come from our cars and, this, will improve the air quality in our towns and cities, which is not just great news for our health it is great news for the environment too.
Making our cities and streets cleaner, greener and safer needs a collective vision and requires investment from Governments, town planners and developers so public transport is, not just viable but, ‘fit for purpose,’ and we need to ensure that our roads, become not just, bike-friendly, but pedestrian-friendly too.
No matter what we may think, the volume of emissions that come from transport* are wreaking havoc on the planet, and one of the worst culprits is flying.
And, as much as we may all look forward to time spent away, we all need to consider flying less, and that means taking time to discover where we live. And, if we do fly, we need to consider planting some trees to offset some of the carbon that our journey creates.
Don’t get me wrong, carbon offsetting is by no means perfect, but by recognising the damage flying does, and offsetting against it, we will be making a positive contribution to the environment. And, even if we aren’t flying, we can all do our bit to help, not just, the environment but the future of mankind, by making our gardens and outside spaces wildlife havens.
*When referring to emissions from transport, it is important to realise that there are both long-lived emissions like CO2, that stay in the atmosphere for a long period of time, and short-lived, ‘black’ emissions that come, primarily, from diesel cars. These, are incredibly damaging to the atmosphere, but only exist for a period of a few weeks.
2 WASTE LESS...
It may sound obvious, but, the more we waste, the more we accelerate the effects of climate change…
Unbelievably, food waste when it rots creates methane, a gas that is 23 times more damaging to the planet than CO2, and that is really bad news for everyone.
The problem is we, currently waste almost 1/3 of the food we produce, and to make matters worse, almost half of it could be eaten… and this, is not just bad news for the planet it’s bad news for our pockets too!
Here are a few ways we can reduce the amount of waste we produce.
· We can buy local, buy fresh and buy loose.
· We can have a cupboard makeover and always check what’s in the fridge before we head out to the shops.
· We can reduce the amount of pre-packaged, convenient and ready-made food that we buy, We can cook more.
· We can learn to love our leftovers.
· If we have gardens we can compost.
· And, we can all look to reduce the amount of meat we eat.
· So, whether we opt to do a #meatfreemonday, look at going vegan, or meat-free, three or four days a week, we can all make a huge difference.
3 GET ENERGY SMART
One of the easiest things we can all do to reduce our impact is by improving the energy efficiency and energy performance of our homes and buildings.
It may sound crazy, but, our homes and buildings are responsible for +28% of global carbon emissions, so, by becoming energy smart we will significantly lower the impact we are having on the world, and reducing the emissions from our homes will help save the glaciers because everything we do locally has a huge impact globally…
Here are some super easy energy-saving tips.
· We can unplug, turn off, turn down and say ‘hasta la vista’ to standby.
· We can start washing, only when we have a full load.
· We can make sure we only boil the water we need.
· We can make sure we heat our homes, only when we are at home!
· We can draw our curtains and we can stop heating the ‘outdoors’ and insulate our lofts.
· Don’t forget, if your electrical appliances are 10 years old or more, it is time to replace them with energy-efficient ones, as these will make a big difference, not just, to the planet but to our pocket too.
4 GET PLASTIC WISE
Another thing we can all do is, get plastic wise. Reducing the amount of plastic we use in our daily lives will make a huge difference to the health and well being of everything.
And that means we need to say ‘no’ to bottled water. Why not save yourself a fortune and buy a water filter, and don’t forget to take a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go. Imagine how much money we would save too.
We can say ‘no’ to cling film, as it is bad news for our health and is a disaster for the planet. And, we can say no to the pre-packaged sandwich of old and buy a super cool lunch box and make our own packed lunch.
If you like these, then why try some of our other top tips.
· We can ditch the plastic razor,
· Wave goodbye to the plastic scourers,
· Replace our plastic toothbrushes with bamboo alternatives,
· We can say hello to the lovely shampoo bars, natural soaps and deodorants’.
· We can ditch the straw,
· Change our t-bags!
· And, ditch the gum!
5 GET INVOLVED
It may sound obvious, but if we want to make a difference, we need to get involved. Getting involved in our local community is not just good for us it will help us transform our world.
If we have time on our hands we can volunteer. Volunteering is not just about working in a local charity store, it can be about helping a neighbour, mentoring someone who might need a helping hand, cleaning our parks, beaches, streets, and waterways, or helping to create community gardens or wildlife spaces.
We can fundraise, host a fashion swap, we can donate, bake, walk or cycle but whatever we do - we can all do something good.
Working in our local community will help us create ‘better’, more inclusive neighbourhoods, and places where people feel valued and want to live, play and work. In doing so, we will help to reduce the very modern problem of social isolation, as, although, we live in a truly connected world, social isolation is not just something for the old, loneliness is endemic, and that is not good for any of us.
So why not be that start of a new conversation and be the change.
In fact, let’s make it our mantra to reduce, refuse, reuse, repair, rethink, regift, repurpose, recover and recycle and above all, remember to give thanks.