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There is no doubt that Coronavirus has affected the ‘normal’ way of life and with so much uncertainty ahead, we are all trying to navigate our way through this ‘new normal’.
During these unprecedented times, some would suggest that we have been given a ‘wake up call’ by the planet. With lockdown forcing people to stay at home, we have seen the natural world blossom due to fewer people on the streets, transport on our roads and planes in the sky.
The widespread impact of the virus coupled with our increased time at home and the limited stocks in supermarkets has made many of us rethink our lifestyles and purchasing habits. Despite being a very uncertain time, the pandemic has presented the ideal opportunity for people to reflect and rethink their lives. In this article, we evaluate some of our daily choices which have been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which have led people to take a much more eco-friendly approach.
Lockdown has seen many people and families take up new hobbies that they might not have had the time for in pre-COVID times. With restaurants and cafes closed for weeks on end, one of the main focuses has been on food exploration and home cooking. People have taken the time to be more adventurous with their meals and the incorporation of cooking from scratch with staple ingredients has led to a significant decrease in packaging waste.
Some have even taken the opportunity to go and ‘pick their own’ fruit and veg from a local farmer, shop at small independent grocers or create their own vegetable patch at home.
As we come out of lockdown, the hospitality industry has started to reopen its doors, however, there is still the lingering uncertainty of the social distancing restaurant experience. People’s efforts in cooking and entertaining at home are elements we can all continue to take forward, which not only will save money but create more opportunities for social enjoyment whilst also reducing food waste, package and food miles.
If there is one thing you can say for coronavirus, it is that it has enabled us to see the value of collective effort. Though we are all different, the country has proven it can come together and unite in a common goal. This might be more evident in local communities, witnessing the public taking care of the vulnerable, or supermarket chains offering their resources to help charities.
Ensuring that excess food reaches those in need at a local level contributes to reduced food waste contamination, less food miles and a better distribution of food supplies amongst the community. Connecting with our neighbours creates a renewed sense of community spirit, with less reliance on technology and more face to face interaction. All of this can only be a good thing for the world around us.
Whether we are spending a day out with family or undertaking a big food shop, the average household will purchase a vast amount of bottles or takeaway drinks. In fact, the average family of four consumes over 2,700 items of plastic every year. Plastic is particularly hard to dispose of, taking hundreds of years to decompose within a landfill. Making the choice to recycle bottles is a key step forward, but what about other aspects of reducing waste outside of the home?
Unfortunately, the reusable cup movement that had just been picking up pace has been thwarted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the need for cafes to revert to single-use cups in order to prevent the spread of infection. Despite this, there are steps we can take to reduce our usage of plastic bottles, from buying refills, to taking a flask with us when we go out, to investing in a Soda Stream instead of endless bottles of fizzy drinks. It’s all about being a little more mindful when we put plastic in the bin and asking ourselves how we could reduce this wastage in the future.
The start of lockdown undoubtedly hit many people hard with the thought of staying home, not being able to see loved ones and having to work from home. Everyone’s circumstances are different but for many, there has been a positive side to the restricted travel and having to make the most of the local surroundings. This inspired many to go for walks and bike rides exploring areas local to them and getting more exercise.
Many people will have learnt that they do not need to fill their diary with endless social meetings, with staying in becoming the new going out. DIY projects have led to the creation of ‘home bars’ and other social areas which make for more ‘at home’ entertaining even when bars, restaurants and clubs are finally reopened.
What is clear is that we have all adapted to less time in our cars, less travel, less external consumption and more time in nature. Of course, there are some who have still felt loneliness, insolation and suffered from poor mental health during the lockdown, but for many, they are emerging healthier, happier and more appreciative of their natural surroundings.