Disclosure: I am not celebrating lockdown, that would be celebrating the global pandemic and people suffering.
Furthermore, this post is my opinion and a reflection on my life, I fully appreciate that not everyone has or can stop driving to work; and this post does not judge those that have different lives and commitments to me.
I’m also very much looking forward to this all to be over as much as everyone, I miss my family and friends and look forward to the days where people don’t move away from you in the street like you have the plague.
Many of us are in some sort of lockdown, and there are things to notice and appreciate, and moreover there are habits that we should recognise and take with us to our post lockdown lives.
I’ve been meaning to write about slowing down for a long time, and now that we’ve been forced to do it anyway it’s a great time to reflect on what’s good about it.
Slowing down, lower impact living, less is more! In my opinion this is how the average Joe and particularly the average consumer can really make a difference to mitigate climate change. Slowing down most things in your life is a sustainable way to live, and it’s good for you too!
The biggest change for me since lockdown has been not commuting, which I think is brilliant. I miss the social aspect of working in the office but not communing has so many benefits:
- No or less traffic: this one is obvious for the benefits of mitigating climate change. Less cars on the road = less co2!
“In 2017, GHG emissions from road transport made up around a fifth of the UK’s total GHG emissions.”
“Road traffic increased by 29% from 1990 to 2018”
“at the end of 2018, 0.5% of all vehicles licensed in the UK were ultra-low emission vehicles.”
“as road transport emissions tend to occur in areas frequented by people, they are, relatively, more harmful than those from other sources”
(All quotes from Office of National Statistics: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/roadtransportandairemissions/2019-09-16)
This is also the most common aspect of lockdown that people tell me they like, whether driving or using public transport. Nobody really enjoys commuting do they? It’s early, it’s busy, it’s expensive, it’s usually long, and it’s so regimented! We’re all so indoctrinated into working 9-5 (thanks Dolly).
But why are we carrying on? Flexible working hours are sort of a common thing these days, but for the few not the many. Being at your desk, dressing smart, I’m sorry but why? I don’t work any less when I’m working from home, sat on the sofa wearing a sports bra and leggings. In fact, getting an hour or more back in my day from not commuting makes me more productive and happier.
2. Eating lunch at home, this one is a great reflection on the way a lot of people live and on food consumption. I’ve been eating better, eating slower, eating fresh food and saving money. It’s not just lunch that’s benefitted; I’ve been cooking more than usual recently, and I have more time to do it. For example, in the same time I would take in the office to get a coffee I can warm some left over soup or left over dinner. In my half an hour lunch break I can make a salad or sandwich fresh from my fridge and/or garden. I can sit and enjoy the sunshine (when it’s sunny) and take an actual break away from work. I can walk around the block, walk around my garden and check on my plants or I can lie down if I need it.
And, imagine how much plastic packaging has not been bought during this time. How many people have made their own lunch and gone for a walk. This time is stressful, granted, however it’s really given people some control back to their life. What they eat, when they eat, and having time to take that 5/10 minute walk. McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks, we don’t need you. We can and should cook and make coffee for ourselves. We’d rather be relaxed at home than rushed off our feet getting to meetings, thanks.
3. More time in my day and week! And this is how we can really see the benefits of slowing down. Having more time in the day; because you aren’t commuting, you aren’t rushing around and… EVERYTHING IS SHUT. Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to pop to the shops when we realise we don’t have something but this lockdown is great to show us that the constant, mindless, pointless consuming is constant, mindless and pointless! I live in a small city, and it has been lovely to actually enjoy the city for its architecture, it’s parks and scenery. Usually the centre is packed unless it’s between 11pm-7am. Usually shops and pubs and clubs and restaurants are all brimming with people, the streets are packed and it’s noisy. Now almost everything is shut, there’s nobody around and it’s quiet. Why can’t we all just go out for a weekly shop? Why are we always out, browsing and buying? I’m not against socialising, and eating different food, to treating ourselves, but the endless buying of stuff we don’t need is ridiculous. If only one thing changes after this I hope it’s that!
Let’s go back to buying things that we need, buying good quality things that will last. We can share things we don’t need all the time, we can repair things that break, we can repurpose old items! The constant consumerism of our society is what I’m trying to highlight and shout out about. In my last post about reusing (We can all be eco warriors (the reusing chapter)) I touched on this problem. Every new thing we buy has usually been made from virgin resources and therefore has a greater (not in a good way) carbon footprint than something old, borrowed, repaired, or reused.
Furthermore, we need to stop consuming the way we are to mitigate climate change. The materials used to form the products we buy, and the materials used to fuel the machines are more often than not fossil fuels. And even those that aren’t fossil fuels, like wood and cotton still have huge environmental impacts, we’re using them at a faster rate than they’re growing and on top of that we’re usually not paying the “REAL RATE” for them. Easy solution? Stop shopping.
So, after lockdown maybe we can all work from home a bit more, have video calls more, take more time for ourselves.
Hopefully we can eat better, cook more and get out in to nature more.
I’m hoping that our shops aren’t open as much, that people don’t buy as much and instead spend time with family and friends, read books, repair clothes, make music, write poetry, garden, start podcasts, meditate, workout and above all LIVE.