This Earth Day our planet is breathing a sigh of relief as the global lockdown has helped air pollution levels plummet, wildlife thrive and waterways run clear. The environmental impact of Covid-19 may be monumental in the short term, but will it result in lasting change to our behaviours which created the climate crisis?
Mum and small business owner Jeanie Bird says despite the monotony of life right now, we should all stay true to the cause and keep on making greener choices. She explains how living in lockdown has affected her eco-influencing actions at home and in her business:
I’ve never really thought of myself as ‘green’. Sure, I’ve recycled since I was a child and I reuse my water bottles until they’re literally falling apart, but that just seems like common sense to me. I give old clothes to charity shops, buy mostly second-hand furniture and try to buy local produce whenever possible. My carbon footprint isn’t Greta-approved, but it could be worse.
However, I still throw away things – from food packaging to old clothing. Something which, until recently, I didn’t think much about. Then I read this…
“When you throw something away, there is no ‘away.’”
The quote spoke to me because it’s a simple truth. When you throw something away – it may be away from you, but it’s not gone. There’s a piece of earth somewhere that is literally being covered by rubbish.
This resonated with me most when I had kids. As a parent the number of things you end up throwing “away” is staggering. From nappies to bottles that can’t be recycled, to stained clothes that charity shops won’t take. Plastic potties, ripped shoes…wet wipes! The list is almost endless.
When I started my business, The Gilded Bird, I wasn’t really thinking of the impact my product would have on the environment. I wanted to make beautiful baby changing mats – ones that would last and not rip or fall apart on me as others had done already. I didn’t want my mats being yet another baby product that couldn’t be re-used. But, as they came, I seized every opportunity to make my mats eco-friendlier. To me, it just made sense. And it didn’t stop there. Once I’d started, I was surprised by the level of drive I had to be more eco-friendly at home too.
Coronavirus has done many things, but for me, it’s highlighted our wastefulness and willingness to throw away. Take toilet paper for example. I bet you never thought you’d need to ration your squares until the empty shelves appeared. It’s not that bad, is it? The same goes – in my house at least – for eating left-overs, using up every scrap of food in the fridge and making do with what we can source locally. Before all of this how many of us were guilty of “just buying another one” if something was lost, didn’t work, fit or went out of fashion? I KNOW I have at least a dozen anti-bacterial gels in my house but can I find even ONE right now? Of course not.
I think we all have this ‘environmental activist’ instinct in us – sometimes we just need to be reminded, whether it’s from a quote, a news report or a serious virus circulating the earth.
So, Coronavirus or no Coronavirus, save those dinner leftovers, sew the rips in your clothes, recycle where possible and use less loo roll – now you know you can!