We’ve been in lockdown in the UK since March 23rd, and already I’m longing for a return to normality. In my head, I’m already creating a list of things I’d like to do (or buy) once the lockdown is over and the crisis has passed:
- have a holiday (our Easter break was cancelled)
- eat out (fed up of my own cooking)
- have a haircut (I look ragged)
- buy new toys for the kids (they are bored of the old ones)
Then I stopped myself and thought about it again. A voice was telling me to resist the urge to splurge post-lockdown in an effort to return to life as normal as if nothing had changed.
Yet plenty of things have changed. We all caught that glimpse over the cliff-edge and realised we all need to be a bit more resilient.
There has been some debate about whether the pandemic has, or will, benefit the climate. There are positive environmental stories – industrial emissions fell in some parts of locked down China, nature returned to certain areas in Italy under lockdown. On a personal level, I’m appreciating the natural world more with my daily dose of local exercise, I have no commute, the roads are safer, the air is cleaner and our town is much less congested.
But these benefits have come at a huge social and economic cost (to often the least advantaged in society), they are temporary, and only a fool would argue that COVID-style lockdowns are a good way of tackling the environmental crisis.
Because while I like (and need) positive news, these stories are like a mirage, an illusion. As our economies race to play catch-up after the virus is under control, emissions are likely to sky-rocket. Dirty industries will lobby for prop-ups or weakening of environmental legislation in the name of jobs and profit. There is a risk that we do all we can to get our ‘normality’ back and forget about doing it in a way that prevents, or even undermines, our efforts to tackle the next crisis – the environmental crisis. Just like me and my list.
I’m a fan of making personal commitments to tackling climate change (see my recent blog on the power of collective action). However, it has to be supported by action from governments too. As Richard Dixon from Friend of the Earth Scotland recently wrote in the Scotsman, this current crisis shows that where there is a will, Governments can make things happen, and quickly. This was echoed in the latest episode (Green Recovery) of the Reasons to be Cheerful podcast with Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd.
My personal commitment is to make my post-COVID list more green. Yes, I can make a list of all the things I want to do once this is over, but I have to do this with a green mindset. And importantly, our governments have to do the same – their economic stimulus packages needs to have a green mindset too.
For me, I will try to make my post-COVID list look something like this:
- buy less stuff I don’t need
- cook more with the ingredients I have
- do more toy swaps
- re-use more packaging for my kids crafting
- use more natural materials from around us for play and learning
- explore my local area more
- get my sewing kit more and learn to mend!
What YOU can do
- Make a list of things you will do more of (and more green) after the COVID crisis
- Make a list of things you will do less of after the crisis