Coronavirus and sustainability?
Hi guys, yet another #sustainabilitysaturday that is actually a Sunday. We hope you forgive us.
With all the panic around coronavirus we obviously had to say something on here.
Let’s divide this up into 3 parts:
1. Should we panic or should we not?
With different countries handling the situation differently and with all the contradicting or misleading information out there it can be hard to know what to do. Obviously we are not qualified to give out any specific advice, but we think it’s important to find the balance between freaking out/overreacting and ignoring everything that is going on.
While those of us that are young and healthy may not be at an immediate risk, we have to consider those who could be more affected by it. Just because our lives aren’t under threat doesn’t mean it should not be taken seriously. It could be anyone’s grandma or uncle, but this shouldn’t be have to the point, no one should have to die from this anyway.
2. But what about the environment?
So, a load of people on the internet have used this as an excuse to promote what is essentially ecofascism (Ecofascism is a theoretical political model in which an authoritarian government would require individuals to sacrifice their own interests to the “organic whole of nature” – see Wikipedia), and we want to use this space to say that we, as a society, do NOT stand for it. Saving our environment, stopping climate change and making the planet more sustainable should not be happening at the expense of people dying. In the end, even if the population was drastically reduced because of this virus, the system we are living in would still be the same and it is this highly profit-orientated, capitalist, colonial and consumerist system that is causing climate change in the first place. It wouldn’t change anything in the long-term and, most importantly, people would have DIED. So, everyone show some compassion and respect the seriousness of the situation. When in doubt, ask your Italian friends if they think it’s “not serious” or “funny”.
3. What can we do now?
Since the UK hasn’t implemented any nationwide restrictions as other countries have done, all we can do as individuals is just to be mindful and follow the official suggestions (wash your hands, rest at home if you’re unwell, avoid big crowds etc).
However, we do have some tips on things everyone can do in this time of uncertainty and panic:
– Don’t buy up all the groceries and toilet paper. Not everyone is in the position to afford buying weeks or month’s worth of groceries, so be considerate and only buy what you really need for the next week or 2.
– Before you do go shopping, look into your fridge and pantry to see what you have and get creative. This might be a good time to experiment in the kitchen and work with what you have. Avoid food waste and leave groceries for those that need it.
– Check out your nearest food banks and donate a few things. With this panic and everyone hoarding mountains of food at home, more vulnerable people might get overlooked and receive even less donations than usual.
– Ask around in your building/street or amongst your family/ friends if anyone needs something from the shops. Maybe there is an older person living in your building, to scared to go outside? Offering just running a little errand like that might cost you an hour but help them out a lot.
– Don’t be racist. Support small, local businesses where and when you can, but especially Chinese restaurants/takeaways/shops.
– Don’t panic about not living so “sustainably” anymore. Until this is under control, there is just going to be a need for more disposable items to maintain health and safety standards and we think it is important to not dwell on it. We have to prioritise slowing the pandemic down and once the situation has improved, we can pick right up where we left it and go back to our reusable tissues (obviously this still means we should be mindful, no need to go through 5 bottles of hand sanitizers and 3 packs of tissues per day if you’re inside and at home).
– Lastly, try not to let this pandemic take over your life. Keep yourself informed, but also make sure your mental health isn’t suffering from the self-isolation and the constant bad news. If you’re lucky enough to be at home and you don’t have to worry about losing money or falling ill, then use this time to read, watch movies or TV series, get creative and cook, paint or write.
We hope this post helped some of you. Stay safe!
Heriot-Watt Sustainability Society