On March 11th 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by WHO. For the last two years, we have been mostly confined to our homes, with people mostly working from home and transport worldwide halting. So with the world standing still and people exploring more of the outdoors on their daily walks, it can be seen to have had a dramatically positive impact on nature.
This is backed up by research revealing that movement restrictions and the significant slowdown of social and economic activities have had many positive impacts on the environment.
The halt of all transportation including cars and aeroplanes dramatically helped with improving air quality across major cities all over the world. This also included the decrease of greenhouse gas emissions, water, and noise pollution which all helped to restore possibly endangered ecological systems.
In the northern hemisphere, last spring saw a decreased human footprint to a level that has never been seen in decades.
Certain species of wildlife began booming like they hadn’t done for a long time, with some animals even visiting locations which they usually avoided. For instance, sea turtles began laying eggs on beaches which are usually polluted by tourists, and fatal vehicle collisions with animals such as deers dramatically decreased.
Despite this, these positive environmental changes were fleeting because as soon as the strict lockdown was eased, all pollution returned to normal levels or in some cases even reached all-time highs. Furthermore, climate change was made worse by the world’s newfound reliance on single-use plastics, which became necessary for Covid tests and other crucial medical equipment. Reports show that most new plastics found in the oceans were generated from hospitals, and I know I'm not the only one who has seen face masks littered around outside. Isolation periods also meant that people flocked towards shopping and ordering online, and these items and their packaging have greatly increased the amount of household waste and carbon emissions that we are responsible for.
Even though we are now mostly back to pre-pandemic life, there are some changes you can look to make to be more environmentally friendly going forward, in order to have a positive impact on climate change.
7 ways to be more environmentally friendly
Calculate your household's carbon footprint
This simple trick is easy to help you figure out how much carbon emissions you are releasing. The calculator goes through how much electricity, gas, or car journeys you make, and how much household food waste you produce - the rest is done for you.
Switch to green power
I know this might not be in the forefront of your mind with power costs rising, however switching to greener energy or installing solar panels is a viable strategy which can help your emissions in the long run.
Travel more efficiently
This can be either opting to take the bus or cycle to work, or simply car sharing with your friends or colleagues. Either way will help reduce your greenhouse emissions and air pollution by half if you buddy up or decide to cycle to work.
Eat less meat and dairy
You wouldn't think so but this is one of the biggest ways you can cut back your carbon emissions, as studies suggest having a plant-based diet can be beneficial to both your health, and the environment.
Protect green spaces
Parks and open fields are very important as they absorb carbon dioxide, so creating your own green space by planting trees or getting an allotment can help. It will also provide you with fresh fruit and vegetables at a fraction of the cost. And who knows… you might be a budding green thumb!
Cut your needless consumption
Everything we buy and use creates waste and adds to your carbon footprint. So next time you want to make a new purchase, try to avoid single-use items and fast fashion. To try and minimise waste buy second-hand items, donate your old items, or simply reuse and repair things.
Share your changes
Starting conversations with friends and family about what changes you are making will have a strong influence on others. Reaching out and explaining the positive impacts these changes might have will not only make you feel better, but the Earth would benefit from it too.
Even though the world needed to return to the normality of pre-pandemic life, it doesn't mean the environment has to continue suffering. Being conscious of our impact on the environment and making a few changes here and there is enough to make a difference. If more and more people get involved and make these changes, the planet will definitely thank us.