This question has been playing on my mind as we edge into a ‘new normal’ after lockdown. This year has been tough, but we also have much to learn from it. Think back to spring: we were walking and cycling more and working from home meant we drove our cars less, held meetings online and spent time in our gardens. We shared vegetables, seeds and plants and, with recycling centres shut, neighbours left books, DIY spares and more outside their homes for others to use. It was rare to spot an aeroplane and nature began to flourish in urban areas. Empty supermarket shelves highlighted the fragility of our food system. Promisingly though, we shopped less, grew more and the simple things – such as fermenting sourdough – were in vogue. We’ve also embraced the staycation, finding adventure closer to home.
Building a green recovery
Environmentalists, such as author Rob Hopkins, have highlighted how lockdown was filled with the possibility of a better future – a mass shift in attitude and behaviour. For me, going back to ‘normal’ isn’t an option and I hope we can learn from our experience. In a study, 63 per cent of people said they now think differently about our human impact on the climate crisis.* And 76 per cent** agreed that nature could contribute to economic renewal. Organisations such as Greenpeace and the RSPB are campaigning for a green recovery, where we rebuild our economy as one that protects the environment and prevents future crises.
There is scientific evidence to show that coronavirus is, in part, a result of the climate crisis, and that it will happen again if we don’t change. I recommend reading the work of educator Jem Bendell, who explains the intricacies. At its most basic, he summarises that as our climate changes, it harms plants, insects and animals, which become sick, infect each other and, in turn, infect us.
Stand up for a green future
We need to listen to what scientists and the planet are telling us: Join your local environmental group and support small businesses. Email your MP with your concerns – do you want the government to bail out airlines, fuel companies and the dairy industry, or do you want it to fund green projects?
Also examine where your money goes. Does your bank, pension or mortgage fund invest in green or unethical projects? Who is your energy provider, and is it really green? If each of us makes these changes, it sends a message to business and government that we stand for a better future.
For more eco ideas, see psychologies.co.uk/real-eco
Do you have a sustainability question? For planet-saving advice, email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Eco worrier’ in the subject line.
Image: Getty and Leanne Bracey.
*PAWPRINT, 2020; **RSPB RECOVERING TOGETHER REPORT, 2020.