NOTES FROM A PANDEMIC
Thinking about the life in between this pandemic, it’s clear that humanity has reached an inflection point. Every sector of our community recognizes the urgent need to address our environmental challenges. Pandemic has always taught us to give more importance to what we have. A little unsure, a little excited, a little careful and a little carefree is the way this pandemic has treated us. Likewise, the pandemic life has underpinned the value of sustainable living. It is all about the people’s attitude that can maintain a positive impact of the pandemic. Attitude is a huge step towards sustainability. Adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle while staying indoors is the best idea one can achieve at this period. Trying to live a greener lifestyle at home is easier when taking small steps at once. There are devastating effects of pandemic but we have to stay optimistic. The losses caused by the pandemic are extreme, so are the positive effects.
This pandemic is ultimately good for the current environment. The way we all have felt about the trees lately is being able to listen to them without the constant hum of vehicles. Creatures are building beautiful homes for themselves. We miss exploring a little country living. We miss disappearing in the woods. We miss hugging mother nature. We did not look at time, not running things as per the clock. But now we know that this pandemic truly has given us a unique and historical window to make the changes needed in an ecologically sustainable system. While we wait for everything to settle down fast, we need to wait for the earth to heal as well. Nature is charging herself, all we have to do is to wait for 100%.
Now that we are all trying to stay safe at home, consuming foods from cafes and restaurants has been reduced. During this period, we make sure to make our kitchens clean and switch into eating healthy. People started growing fresh, organic food and diverting the waste. Cooking only what we need and storing food correctly has been the biggest achievement in an individual’s life. From vegetables and fruits to dairy products and canned foods, basically everything is stored for later use. Preventing food waste could be one of the most effective solutions to climate change in this pandemic.
First humans wrapped nature into plastic, now nature is wrapping humans into plastic. However, with the Covid-19 masks, gloves and personal protective equipment are used in a wide amount. According to a report in science and technology, 194 billion disposable masks are being used each month during this pandemic. Almost all disposable masks are made of different types of plastic including polyethylene and vinyl. Due to the fact that it’s medical waste, it remains unworked and is burned which adds even more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. PPE cannot be recycled so it ends up getting incinerated contributing to climate change. This can take up to 450 years to bring down in a marine environment, according to waste free oceans. So, we have a critical role to play by switching into the cotton and reusable masks. This is what we can do to change for the better after this pandemic.
Polluted air has always been the bad news. It can have negative effects on the environment and wildlife and often impacts human health and wellbeing. WHO estimates that around 7 million people per year are affected by respiratory illness directly linked to air pollution. People with respiratory difficulties are seen at higher risk due to Covid-19. Looking at the brighter side, this pandemic is ultimately good for the current environment. Nature is coming back and the air quality is improving.
This pandemic has also taught us to normalize repeating clothes and owning less. Fast fashion brands make new designs on a weekly base because we as consumers buy it. They will stop making it if we stop buying it. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions and also the second largest consumer of water worldwide. This pandemic has made repeating clothes normal and we need to stop this crazy circle of consumption. Donating the clothes that we don’t wear and buying secondhand clothes is the most effective way. Some small changes can make a big difference.
Trashes these days have been treasures. Reusing empty containers around the house and stopping use of single use products are the ideas to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. If we just made this switch we could lessen the amount of plastic going into our landfills. Something as simple as applying this formula would make our planet a more livable place. Mass gathering and celebrations can’t be seen these days which has reduced the use of disposable plates and cutleries. Picnics in parks and forests, vacation on the riverside has reduced the garbage outdoors. It is all about the time to replace the products in the home that saves our environment.
One thing is sure, after the pandemic our society will never be the same. Our societies are capable of making sacrifices for the coming good. As this pandemic is being taken seriously, issues like climate change should also be addressed. The world is re-opening and we are getting ready to re-explore the world. This pandemic is a reason to start solving the kind of eco disasters together. We all care about earth and we want to keep it beautiful. We can do small little things every day for it to be more sustainable.
But just in the way the pandemic crept up on us and suddenly swept the world with it, there is also something as a life changing awareness. Let’s change the fundamental relationship between us and nature. With the quarantine measures getting loosened, we need to make sure to dispose of the self-protective properly. Let’s keep the “no waste food” tradition intact. Let’s change our attitudes towards nature, plants and the environment. Let us all take every single chance in our life to bring back our planet in harmony. Looking back we can learn a lesson to grow trees, clean our rivers, reintroduce wilderness in our gardens and make our cities green. In this pandemic, I believe in myself that I will see the changes in my lifetime especially to restore the natural process and to communicate with nature, with my wellbeing.
Kritika Bhandari, GoldenGate International College
(Note: The views published in the blog are personal views of the writer alone and do not represent Environment Protection and Study Center. The article has been selected as winner for the monthly blog competition based on the theme provided on June by Environment Protection and Study Center.)