If there is one positive thing that has resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic so far, it is that satellite imaging shows that the earth’s pollution levels have dropped off considerably in the past few weeks. Pictures showing the center of New Delhi with clear blue skies or the harbors of cities in southern Italy filled with dolphins have been making the rounds on popular social media sites.
However, as the pandemic reaches it’s apex both in the US and Europe, life is destined to normalize in the coming weeks and months. There is now a growing fear that the first world’s consumers will once again go back to their unsustainable levels of consumption.
A fear that many environmentalists hold is that a new shopping frenzy will take over the world when this is all over. Although it is understandable that ardent consumers who have not been able to purchase products from their favorite stores will return to their normal ways, the earth’s climate can only hope that this time round a search for sustainable consumption will take over.
If there is one thing we should all take away from this pandemic, then it is that our old ways were making us sick. Eating fast food (or even meat for that matter) is generally considered unhealthy, just as drinking alcohol or driving cars is unhealthy for the environment.
No one is expecting that the world turns completely green overnight, but a ray of sunshine from the lock-downs that have covered the world’s biggest cities could be a rise in the consumption of environmentally friendly products.
People in Italy, France and Spain who were locked in their houses and could only shop in the local supermarkets, apparently bought seeds by the hundreds. Terraces and balconies in European city centers have now turned into sprawling greenhouses full of life. A new trend of home gardening in your own city apartment has sprung up amid all this doom and gloom.
We can therefore hope that a greater awareness for the need for sustainability is growing within the mind of those that have lived through this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A return to nature within the urban lifestyle of metropolitan areas both in Europe and the US would probably be accompanied by sustainable products.
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Let us all hope that with greater awareness for the needs of the sick and elderly comes greater knowledge about sustainability. That with greater care for each other in times of covid-19 also comes greater care for the environment.