The impact coronavirus has had, and will have globally, on families, on health and livelihoods should not be underestimated or downplayed. Yet it strikes me that some of the lifestyle changes that have been forced on people over the last few weeks could be important to hold on to, as we emerge from the immediate crisis.
Over the last few weeks, with my family, we’ve made sure we get to the park early, before it’s too busy, we’ve planted trees, watched birds, done family PE lessons in the garden, planted seeds, purchased a wormery, made bread, clapped for the NHS, danced, decorated the windows with messages of hope and seen more of our friends and family than ever, albeit on Zoom!
Some of this was possible only because we weren’t sick and are fortunate enough to have a garden, and some had a financial cost, but a lot was free. Some of the lifestyle shifts we have witnessed resonate with a vision of future marked by reduced consumption, where nature and social ties are prioritised above financial wealth, and align with research we published with C40 Cities in 2018.
Of course, it’s not all beneficial reductions in consumption. We are seeing increased electricity use, for example, as people shift to home working. But with only 9% of people polled by YouGov in the UK saying they want life to “return to normal” after COVID-19 there seems to be some hope that people are ready to change, and might embrace a greener more sustainable future.