Sustainable Living vs Lockdown Life

Last week I wrote about how closely my usual lifestyle resembles my lockdown life. But I think it goes further than that. I believe there are many ways in which our lockdown lives mirror a more sustainable life.

We’re flying less

I’m not a traveller. I’ve only ever flown around six times in my life, and never for more than two hours. Plus I haven’t flown anywhere in over 25 years. I choose not to fly both because I don’t enjoy it, but also because I’m not comfortable with the amount of greenhouse emissions produced by the aviation industry. (About 2% of all emissions worldwide each year.)

And now most of us are no longer flying. 

Travel has become such a ubiquitous part of modern life, but for most of human history, most humans never travelled that far from their homelands. Even nomadic people kept within a limited range.

So, in the post-pandemic world that we’ll inherit one day, I wonder if people will reconsider how much they need to travel. Air travel is a luxury, not a right, but a luxury that does so much damage to our fragile planet. Maybe people will travel less in the future, but I suspect not.

We’re driving less

I’ve owned a car only once in my life when I worked in Hobart for 18 months between 1989 and 1990. The public transport sucks down there, (still does, from what I’ve heard) so I didn’t have a choice. But when I came back to Sydney, I sold my car, and I’ve never owned one since.

Now, I know not everyone can do without a car. Maybe you need a car for work, or to drive your kids to school and other activities. But if you don’t need to own a car, why do you? They’re just money-guzzlers!

Regardless of whether you need a car or not, most people aren’t using their cars as much as usual. And have you noticed something? The air is so clean. It’s such a pleasure to go outside (for essential reasons) and breathe in the fresh, pure air. So, even if you do need a car in the post-pandemic world, maybe it’s time to go electric? Your lungs will thank you.

We’re consuming less

Not toilet paper, obviously. Or food. But I think most of us have cut down on our discretionary spending. We’re focussing on the necessities of life, not the luxuries. Maybe some of you are finding that difficult, but I bet some of you are beginning to realise what a lot of crap you buy. Crap you don’t need or use.

So maybe some of us will spend less on stuff we don’t need after all this is over and lead a more sustainable and mindful life where we only buy things that are useful and beneficial. And maybe we’ll hold on to stuff longer instead of rushing out to buy the latest gadgets all the time. I hope so.

People are home-growing once more

It used to be normal for people to grow their own food. Vegetable patches in the backyard, and chooks, and fruit trees. I grew up eating fresh mandarins and oranges from the trees in our backyard. Plus we had a huge mulberry tree. And fresh eggs laid by my father’s hens were a part of my older siblings childhoods. Plus people baked their own bread and cakes and buscuits. But then everyone stopped growing their own food and stopped baking bread and switched to the convenience of getting their supplies from supermarkets.

But now my social media feeds are full of people planting vegetables in their yards or even their balconies and baking their own bread and cakes. And people are keeping chooks again. Sure, it’s hard work. But there’s something special about eating something you’ve grown or baked yourself. Wouldn’t it be great if backyard vegetable patches and chook sheds and homemade bread became the norm again? I think so.

Could our post-pandemic world be more sustainable?

Sure, in our current circumstances, we haven’t had a choice but to change the way we live. But there’s definitely an argument that we’re being forced to live a more sustainable life during our extended lockdown. It’s almost as if the pandemic could act as a circuit-breaker between our pre-pandemic consumerist lifestyle and a more sustainable post-pandemic way of living. 

I hope that happens, but probably not. Maybe some people will use the experience of being in lockdown to lead a more sustainable life in future, but I suspect most people will go back to their old ways. But I think those of us who learn to appreciate the more straightforward way of life offered by our mutual lockdowns might end up living happier lives after the pandemic.

It’s certainly something to contemplate while we’re all at home with, perhaps, a bit more time on our hands. Unless you’re already busy feeding the chooks or baking bread, of course.

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