It shouldn't take a global pandemic to make the Earth a better place to live, but in a way, the coronavirus lockdown has helped the environment bounce back. With our day-to-day routines suddenly shut off, a lot of us saw improvements in our environment including better air quality, cleaner rivers, less noise pollution, and happier wildlife (we hear you, birds!).
As our daily routines start to change again, we’re desperate to make sure that the new normal is sustainable. Keep reading for our top tips on to make the most sustainable choices after lockdown.
Look at your energy consumption
Whether you’ve been working from home, powering up your laptops each day or binge-watching everything from Tiger King to The Sopranos (yes, it turns out it is possible to finish Netflix!), it’s fair to say we’ve probably been using more energy in our homes than life pre-lockdown.
All that energy use has an impact on the planet, so it’s important to consider if you can reduce it in any areas. We can do this in a few ways:
a) Cut down your energy usage
You can cut down your utility carbon emissions and save money at the same time by making some small changes! Remember to flick light switches off, shut down laptops, chargers, and TVs when you’re done (not just on stand-by, but actually at the plug). Save water too by turning off the taps when you’re brushing your teeth and don’t need the water running. It all adds up!
b) Switch your energy provider
Check out what percentage of green gas and electricity your supplier uses and whether it’s generated by renewables. If you’re not happy with your provider’s sustainability record, it might be time to switch. Bulb and Octopus are both great choices. Their electricity comes from 100% renewable sources including solar, wind and hydro and their gas is carbon-neutral too.
Rethink your cooking routines
With restaurants closed and supermarkets selling limited stocks over lockdown, we’ve had to get creative at mealtimes. For some of us, that’s meant learning to cook or the first time and for others, it’s meant filling our friends and families’ Facebook and Instagram feeds with our latest lockdown baking treats. Either way, most of us have spent more time in the kitchen than ever over the last couple of months.
As we come out of lockdown, it might be time to have a think about:
a) Shopping locally
The way that we shop has changed, with lots of us choosing to shop online and the switch to contactless payment. While this is a great way to stay home and stay safe, lots of local independents have been hit hard as a result.
If you’re in a position to shop locally, doing so can help support your community by keeping independents afloat and reduce your impact on the environment. Often when shopping for local items, they’ve been produced (grown or made) in the nearby area, lowering their carbon emissions. Plus, it’s easier to choose plastic and packaging free!
b) Reducing your food waste
At the beginning of lockdown, many of us experienced food shortages which meant reducing our food waste by planning meals became a priority.
Yes, we might finally(!) be able to shop basics like pasta and flour again but let’s make sure we carry on being food-conscious as lockdown eases. Producing, moving, storing and cooking all that food uses energy, fuel and water. Each of which lets off greenhouses gases that contribute to climate change, so it’s important to minimise this where possible.
Rethink your cleaning routine
2020 really has been the year we all vamped up our cleaning and hygiene habits, as we all know regular cleaning plays a vital role in limiting the transmission of COVID-19.
a) Avoid polluting when cleaning
If you’re looking to buy cleaning products, look for greener options. We stock a fab selection of plastic-free, biodegradable and UK made cleaning products (sorry, we couldn’t resist a small plug!) but you can also make your own natural cleaning alternatives too.
b) Look after your waste
When lockdown began, lots of us (understandably!) had a few slip-ups which increased our waste. Whether from buying food in plastic packaging because of food shortages or buying those anti-bacterial wet wipes - we totally get it!
Luckily, there are lots of more sustainable options now. Whether that's plastic-free packaging for your food shopping, reusable face masks instead of disposable or throwing your hedge clippings in with your garden bins now councils are finally emptying your brown bins - it all adds up!
Restrictions enforced and fears of contracting the virus in public places have led to huge changes in our travel behaviour compared to pre-lockdown. Some of it’s been good news, with global road transport activity almost 50% below the 2019 average and commercial flight activity down by almost 75%, which will have led to a huge reduction in transport emissions.
But as life goes back to normal, naturally we expect transport use to increase. There are a few ways we can make more sustainable travel choices:
a) Choose a staycation
Our travel options have been very limited recently but with lockdown easing up during summer, lots of us are thinking about holidays for a little R&R. Though the borders might be opening, consider a staycation instead of an international holiday instead. What better time to rediscover your love for the area you live in!
b) Choose slow travel
If you’re desperate for a change of scenery or are looking forward to visiting family and friends abroad, practice slow travel. Choose ferries, trains and buses for long trips and cover shorter journeys on bicycle and foot instead of planes and taxis. Slow travel is all about connecting with a place, taking more time to see less, rather than dashing through borders to get to the final destination.