Despite lockdown measures and the reduction in human activity which ensued, 2020 is still likely to be our planet’s hottest year on record. The startling reality is that the potential consequences of climate change are far worse than those of the Coronavirus, and yet it is possible that this pandemic has shown us a way to mitigate environmental disaster in the future.
Before the current situation developed, we would have thought it impossible for UK road traffic to reduce by 70% and air traffic by 90% compared to a year ago, and for this to happen overnight! On account of our restricted behaviour, we very quickly noticed the air getting fresher, birds singing, and the re-emergence of wildlife all around us. Scientists told us that nitrogen dioxide emissions had significantly reduced in many areas, and that if continued this would save thousands of people each year from an early death. This evidence highlights not only how quickly we can make positive changes, but also what longer-term measures taken today could do to combat environmental disaster in years to come.
As government restrictions are steadily lifted, we will not continue to hold off climate change with lockdown measures, but what can we do to continue to be a positive influence on our environment? Here are some ideas…
1. Be travel conscious – Before jumping in the car on a plane, think about other options you could take. Regularly swapping the car for a walk or cycle is beneficial both for your health and of those around you, and using public transport or car sharing can be more sociable and better for the community.
2. Use your purchasing power – Be more demanding as a consumer where possible. Doing this can help bring about positive change from manufacturers and legislators alike. Try shopping for food without packaging, find out where products come from, and check that fair, ethical, and sustainable methods have been followed.
3. Do more with less – In the past, sewing, mending, and not wasting were all a part of everyday life, but these skills and similar ones have seen a decline over the past few decades, meaning that we rely more heavily on buying new things where it is not necessary. This trend only enlarges our carbon footprint. Keep an eye out for repair cafes and opportunities to care for household items which need fixing, instead of replacing them. This not only reduces waste, but also means these skills can be shared and passed on to others.
4. Grow your own – Growing your own vegetables can keep you fit and healthy, and give you a greater appreciation for the food we eat. It is also a great way for children to have a better understanding of where the food they eat comes from. Food grown in your garden or allotment will not come wrapped in plastic, nor with any air miles. Eating seasonally is more sustainable, more nutritious (food contains more antioxidants when grown in accordance with natural cycles), and growing your own helps you save money too.
5. Make things last – We don’t have to get a new phone just because our network provider tells us we can, the most environmentally friendly option is to make things last as long as possible. In a world of finite resources with a growing population, making things last is becoming increasingly important.
6. Plant a Tree – Planting a tree from seed or sapling is not only a very rewarding experience which brings us closer to nature, but it will also help keep our environment habitable for years to come. If you don’t have a place to plant a tree, why not donate it to the local Lockdown Woods project (please see our website for further details on this community project)?
7. Sign petitions, write letters, peacefully protest – If you have an opinion on how something should be done better, done more sustainably, or maybe with the community more at heart, make your opinion count. You could join a protest for your cause, or write a letter to our local MP, sign a petition (or even start your own).
8. Shop locally – There are shops in and around Hungerford promoting environmentally-friendly business practices. Whether not using packaging, or selling local produce, it’s important for us to support these businesses to encourage similar behaviour from other vendors.
9. Be tech savvy – Some technologies, available today, will play a large part in reducing our carbon emissions in the years to come. These technologies will need to be embraced by us so that they become the new normal. Solar panels and electric vehicles will mean that energy can come with less cost to the earth. Look out for the West Berkshire Solar Streets Initiative, which we’ll be promoting once it starts up again after lockdown. Join us at the HEAT Electric Vehicle event in September to learn more about the vehicles already on offer, which we’ll confirm as soon as we know we can go ahead.
10. Join HEAT – Share your ideas and thoughts with us at the monthly meeting and collectively we can lower Hungerford’s carbon footprint through community-lead action. Monthly meetings are currently being held via Zoom at 7pm on the last Wednesday of every month – please visit the Monthly Meeting Page for details of how to join.
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