As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter our reality, many people have adapted to a new, simpler way of living.
As a result, global emissions are expected to be down 10 per cent this year, which is excellent for the planet, but will we behave in this new, environmentally sustainable manner once restrictions are lifted?
In order to meet the Paris Agreement targets, the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) states that we must lower our global emissions by 7.6 per cent each year.
While a one-year decrease in emissions won’t solve our climate crisis, an alternative mindset gained through this pandemic could guide the changes necessary to save our dying planet.
As we stay at home, we have had time to reflect on our old consumer-oriented, fast-paced, way of life in comparison to our new, less complicated one. What is it that you miss most about life before the pandemic?
I truly believe most people yearn for social interaction, the warmth and comfort of giving a loved one a hug, the ability to connect face-to-face with friends, sharing laughs and making memories.
People are probably not missing commuting in sluggish traffic for hours on end, shopping for a new fast-fashion outfit that will sit in their already-exploding closet, or running from activity to activity under the incessant time constraints that force us to grab a bite to-go, instead of cooking a fresh, plastic-free meal.
The unstoppable materialistic tendencies of our society today have finally been diminished, if even for a brief refrain.
We have learned to make do with – and even appreciate – what we have. We don’t actually need to spend our hard-earned money merely to satisfy our material desires. It is evident, in reflecting on this time, that possessions do not bring us joy, at least, not in comparison to the insurmountable happiness of sharing time with friends and family.
Today, we miss connection, but we have also learned to enjoy many other aspects of life – things that we might not have even noticed before.
In these past couple of months, I have seen more people walking around our neighbourhood than ever before. They stop and look at a newly sprouted flower, a budding bush and B.C.’s springtime in all its glory.
They stop and make distanced conversation with an elderly neighbour who they would’ve sped past on their way home from work before.
They stop and give audience to birds chirping instead of cars engines humming. By re-establishing the beauty of neighbourhood connection, this time has cultivated a love and need for local-ism, which is something environmentalists push for. We now know that we do not have to travel great distances for entertainment or stimulation. Everything we need is right here.
So many valuable shifts have emerged as the world pauses. It is simply a matter of determining how to proceed from here with B.C. now re-opening.
We cannot go “back to normal,” that is clear. So what advances should we take?
We have gained a great understanding about the importance of connection with each other as well as with nature.
We have also grasped the insignificance of consumption.
Let us learn from this experience and let it be an influential time in history, not for the hardship, but for the beautiful future it could allow us to create.
Miranda Clark is a Grade 12 student at Earl Marriott Secondary. She writes monthly on ways to reduce waste and minimize our environmental footprint.