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What is the environmental impact of the virus?

All Areas > Environment > Save the Planet

Author: Louise Williams, Posted: Monday, 19th October 2020, 09:00

Used face mask thrown away litter Image: earth.org

Initially it seemed that the only positive about coronavirus was its environmental impact on the planet. Factories closed, no longer churning black smoke into the already very damaged ozone layer, the roads were empty, cars still on drives.

We cooked our own food from scratch, grew our own produce, shopped in local stores, walked more, cycled everywhere, the skies were empty of planes and people discovered a renewed love of nature.

It felt positive, hopeful even, despite the many, many tragic losses, people would cite this as ‘one good thing to come out of lockdown’.
There were less positive changes though – necessary, but still an environmental set-back. Food shopping delivered in carrier bags again with no option not to have bags, disposable mask and glove production in overdrive, people driving on their own to avoid the bus.

The positives are a distant memory

Now it feels like all the positives are a distant memory. The roads are choked with cars again, queueing at the traffic lights. Factories reopened (vital for the economy and people’s livelihood of course), disposable masks and gloves litter the pavements and wash up across all shores.

In the UK, the rediscovered love of nature seems to have been lost as the weather changes and people aren’t going outside as much, slowly sucked back into the whirlwind of school, work, after school clubs and beginning the semi-hibernation we seem to fall into in the autumn and winter months. After all, you can’t do an evening bug hunt in the pitch black with a torrential rainstorm soaking you through. Or can you?

Maybe it’s time to grab our best wet weather gear and our torches and go on a flashlight bug hunt with our children or grandchildren. Or if that’s too much, sit in a darkened room and watch for wildlife out of the window, keeping a log of the visitors to your street or garden.

If you’re away from the children in your family, this is the perfect activity to do over zoom. Compare notes, who sees the most wildlife? Teach them about hibernation, make notes of the creatures you don’t see at the moment. Watch age appropriate documentaries with them, get them to help sort the recycling, to find out where it goes.

No one is going to wave a magic wand

We need to keep the children of future generations interested in nature, in recycling, in cutting down emissions and saving the planet. It would be all too easy to slip back into our old ways of thinking that someone else will sort it all out. There isn’t anyone coming to wave a magic wand – the change is with us and the generations to come after us.

In a time where we don’t feel in control, this is an area where we can be in charge. Children were so empowered at the beginning of the year, so let’s try to work together to keep that fire stoked.

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