Clearer skies, less pollution, more wildlife… if lockdown has taught us anything (other than the art of virtual pub quizzing and that Netflix needs to do another series of Cheer… immediately) it’s that small lifestyle changes, collectively, can have a real and noticeable impact on the environment.
Fast becoming a nation of cupboard bakers, window box gardeners, and upcycle project planners, we’re becoming more responsible, more resourceful and more self-reliant.
Many of the things we bemoaned we couldn’t live without at the start, we’ve discovered we no longer need. And despite our isolation, in many ways, we’ve never felt more together.
So this Earth Day, it’s time to reset and take a step back. And look at how some of these lockdown lessons can become permanent practices to help slow the effects of climate change.
Since cars and transport have mostly been out during lockdown, foraging locally for food has been in.
1. Support local producers.
Empty supermarket shelves have made many of us turn to local breweries, veg box providers and coffeemakers to deliver what we need. Where you can, continue this support via weekly or monthly subscriptions.
2. Use independent shops.
Supermarket chains are convenient, but the chain reaction of shopping locally is also pretty impressive – more community jobs, less transport costs and lower carbon emissions.
3. Eat seasonal.
The environmental impact of transporting food around the world is huge. As imports have started to dry up, we’ve been forced to become more sustainable by eating what’s in season. Fashionable this season, is being that way every season.
4. Grow a pear.
It’s estimated that meat and dairy production is responsible for 15-18% of climate changing emissions. Too much meat can also be bad for your health and put stress on already over-exerted health services, so where possible, have some meat-free days and become more self-sufficient by growing your own veg.
5. Mend, upcycle and recycle
Okay, it helps when you can’t physically go out on a shopping spree. But the fashion industry is responsible for more carbon emissions than the air and maritime industries combined. So instead of buying new, make the most of what you have, upcycling your wardrobe and furniture.
Digest this fact for a second: it’s estimated that ONE THIRD of food produced for human consumption is wasted globally.
6. Reduce food waste.
Lockdown has forced us to take a long hard look at our eating and shopping habits, only buying what we need (hoarders, you know who you are) and ensuring that none of our hard-fought food goes to waste. Keep up that cupboard chef mentality by getting creative with leftovers, and if you do make too much, share it with those who need it.
7. Compost leftovers.
It’s great that some councils have composting schemes, but this waste still needs to be transported and processed. If you have a garden, set up a compost pile.
8. Buy a wormery.
Not only will worms turn your food waste into fertiliser, but you’ll also help to increase our worm population. Architects of the underworld, worms play a vital role in maintaining the planet. According to Darwin, “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organised creatures.” So yeah, try and wriggle out of that glowing recommendation.
9. Feed the birds.
Leftover fat, crumbs, cheese, bread, nuts… turn it into fat balls to encourage birds into your garden or balcony.
10. Smell the coffee.
If you’re anything like us (trying to stay awake during lockdown) then you’ll be amassing a lot of used coffee grounds. There are a remarkable number of things you can do with them, including:
– Fertilise your garden or window boxes.
– Scatter them around plants to deter insects and other pests.
– Use them to remove fleas from your pet. (Genuine, Google it).
– Use them to grow mushrooms. (Likewise).
– Create body scrubs. Mix old grounds with sugar and coconut oil to make a natural skin exfoliator. The caffeine helps to stimulate blood flow, and as coffee is the same PH as your skin, it won’t leave your skin dry and so can naturally help with acne, eczema, cellulite and stretch marks.
11. Sort your recycling.
It’s only when you’re eating all your meals at home do you start to comprehend the amount of waste we produce. Separate out your recycling, or even better, cut down on the amount of packaging you bring into the house in the first place.
Since lockdown, the smog last lifted from our skylines, the stars have become more visible, and asthma sufferers have reported they’re breathing easier. In fact, the air pollution fell so dramatically in London, that they thought the monitors they use to read air toxicity had broken.
12. Walk for 30 minutes.
It takes most people 30 minutes to walk two miles. So instead of using your car or public transport, walk instead. It works for clearer air, and a clearer mind.
13. Use your car less.
Not being able drive other than for essential journeys has led many of us to ask, ‘Do we need our cars?’. If you can use public transport, a car share or car pool app instead, it will reduce your outgoings and your footprint.
14. Buy a bike.
For many, going out on bikes for exercise or essentials has been a lockdown lifesaver. As well as helping reduce air and noise pollution, cycling also has physical, economic and mental health benefits.
Okay, so the cabin fever has been pretty intense at times, but when does life ever give you the time to stop and spend time sorting out your life admin?
15. Switch to green energy.
Switching to a renewable energy supplier will not only help to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but can also cut down your bills.
16. Switch to LED lightbulbs.
LED lightbulbs can last 25% longer than regular bulbs and use 75% less energy. Lightbulb moment? We think so.
17. Install a smart thermostat.
While an initial investment upfront, by only using the energy you need, you’ll reduce your footprint and your monthly bills.
18. Wash clothes at 20 or 30-degrees.
The majority of the energy used when washing clothes comes from heating the water itself. Washing at lower temperatures will help cut CO2 emissions, help the environment and make your clothes last longer.
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