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Time to reconsider – How the pandemic shows a single person actually makes a difference

The pandemic shows how big the impact of a single person is - Photo by Alena Koval from Pexels

Over the past years – especially 2019 with the Fridays for future protests – climate change has moved into the focus our society. Now, with the current COVID19 pandemic, recycling and environmental activism does not seem like something of high priority anymore. However, social distancing and being stuck at home might be the perfect time to reconsider our impact on the environment.

Only a few weeks into the lockdown, social media got flooded the clear canals of Venice, satellite pictures of a smok free Hong Kong and returning wildlife in big cities. While the impact has not only been positive, noticing how much of an impact we can make if each one of us commits to a shared goal has inspired many.

Canals in Venice are becoming clear again now that the traffic has calmed down – Photograph: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The pandemic is showing a lot of us how important every single one of us is. One person ignoring the set-out guidelines can endanger so many more. And what a lot of us have been noticing: We are adapting. Sure, we all miss visiting our families and going out for dinner or going on vacation. We also started video chatting, picked up hobbies or learned new things – a surprisingly large amount of people is baking banana bread.

All of this can easily be translated into what we need to reconsider when it comes to climate change. While big actions – as political decisions for example – still have to be made, actually reaching the goal relies on something else: Each of our contributions.

Here are some things to consider during and more importantly after the lockdown:

Why do we accept excuses by governments and big companies?

Many governments took action where it was needed. Restrictions, guidelines and lockdowns are having a significant impact. Sure, this might be an emergency situation, but it has still shown that change is possible – and does not always need to take as long as we think. Additionally, those countries that initially ignored the recommendations and postponed measures, were soon hit by the consequences.

Former President Barack Obama drew the comparison between the ignorance some have in regard to climate change and the ignored warnings about the pandemic.

Where and how do you want to travel?

The fact that it is so restricted at the moment is one of the main reasons we have seen such big changes in the environment lately. Air traffic is a big contributor to climate change. When considering your next vacation after the lockdown, maybe look for places within your country rather than abroad. There are many benefits in doing so.

From where do you get your food?

Empty supermarket shelves and low supply scared quite a few of us, especially in the beginning of the crisis. The fact that we started thinking more critically about what we need and what we buy during the pandemic could help us be less wasteful in general. For example: 60% of the food we throw away each year is completely avoidable. Buying more consciously and local rather than from a big chain makes a big difference.

Surely, we all hope that the pandemic is over as soon as possible. And while there are not many good things to say about the situation, it certainly shows how working together with others and doing your part does indeed make a difference.

What is something you want to change – or keep up – after the pandemic?


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