COVID-19 has caused a complete fracture to our daily habits, routines, systems and spending. In recent decades our nation has never experienced such a threat to everything we regularly take for granted.
This disruption to our lives has caused widespread social isolation, fear, and a threat to us and our loved ones. It is something that we can only hope never happens again. Yet, there are elements to this that, dare I say it, could have some positive outcomes.
I’m not the only one to feel like this. A recent YouGov poll, commissioned by the Royal Society of Arts and The Food Foundation, has shown that only 9% of Britons want life to return to normal once lockdown is over. Those surveyed noticed huge changes: less pollution, more wildlife and stronger communities. We are all now assessing our lives, discovering what makes us happy, and seeing what could be done better.
The crisis has had a massive impact on changing people’s everyday patterns and behaviours, and this has had effects on the environment. The global economic slowdown and lack of travel caused by the coronavirus crisis is on course to deliver the steepest annual fall in CO2 in history, with a larger reduction in emissions expected than during World War II. (Carbon Brief, April 2020)
Coronavirus has the potential to cause a long-term organisational shift towards homeworking. This period in enforced lockdown has demonstrated that we don’t all need to be working full-time in an office environment together, and that there can be massive financial, time and environmental benefits from more home working.
The reduction in transport has meant that suddenly our neighbourhoods seem quieter. We can hear bird song more clearly and, as our pace of life slows, we start valuing the wildlife in our gardens more. We watch, we listen, we learn. We question, did we really need to make those journeys before?
As it becomes harder to gain home delivery slots from major supermarkets, and for those wanting to avoid the crowds, independent and local suppliers are suddenly our chosen preference. Not only that, but with no days out or holidays planned, food is being given more thought and time dedicated to preparing it. Quality matters more than ever.
Communities have pulled together in a way they haven’t done before. Whether it’s been checking on neighbours or arranging ‘social distancing’ parties in the street, the pandemic has really brought people together, whilst staying apart!
We can’t simply replace broken items anymore, or discard of them easily, so ‘make do and mend’ is making a return. We are learning the value of everyday items once more.
When questioned, it isn’t ‘things’ we want after the lockdown has ended, it’s memories that we are eager to make. We want to have the freedom to walk on the beach as the sun goes down, we want to be able to talk face-to-face with family, and see our children playing with their friends.
Let’s hope something good can come out of this crisis and we discover how to make changes in our own lives, to protect our planet and each other.