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From pre-loved fashion to shopping local: 5 ways lockdown has encouraged sustainable living

Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way we live, impacting everything from how we work to how we socialize.
One of the few positive results of the pandemic has been that many people have become more aware of their carbon footprints. In April 2020, an Ipsos survey found that 71 percent of people in 14 countries felt that climate change was as serious a crisis as the pandemic. In July 2020, a survey by green energy provider Bulb found that more than a third of the UK public were living more sustainably during the shutdown. Meanwhile, an American survey conducted by the Boston Consultancy Group at the same time found that 70 percent of people were more aware of their environmental impacts than before.
"I think a lot of people at home have a new appreciation for nature and its local environment," a WWF spokesperson told The Independent . WWF Executive Director Tanya Steele adds that this year marks the beginning of a "critical decade" when it comes to taking action against the climate crisis. “It has never been more important for people to use their voice, their own power, to defend nature and show leaders why they should care,” she says.
It goes without saying that spending more time outdoors can have a huge impact on one's relationship with the environment. "One of the things we've all noticed is the importance of our green spaces," Environment Minister Rebecca Pow told The Independent . "I am encouraged to see that more and more people are using them to connect with nature, which is beneficial for physical and mental health." The environmental benefits of the blockade have also been evident. In April, reports emerged of wild animals emerging from their hiding places and roaming the suddenly empty streets. Dolphins were suddenly spotted off Boshprosu, Istanbul, one of the world's busiest sea lanes, while wild boars roamed the streets of Haifa, Israel. Closer to home, reports noted a significant increase in bat, bee and squirrel sightings in 2020 in the UK compared to the previous year.
Other benefits were seen in the form of reports that air pollution had decreased by record amounts in countries around the world. But how did we become more sustainable as individuals during the confinement? And can we continue like this once the restrictions are lifted? These are the climate lessons we learned during the confinement.  
Changing our diets
It's no secret that moving toward a more plant-based diet can have a hugely positive impact on the environment. Not only did roughly 14 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activities come from livestock, but a study published in Science in 2018 that listed the environmental impact of 40 top foods found that the top nine were all products. of animal origin.
A few weeks after the first shutdown, reports emerged that millions of Britons were cutting back on meat and dairy , while supermarkets reported an increase in demand for vegan products. Meanwhile, The Vegan Society found that one in five Britons have reduced their meat consumption during the pandemic, while 15 percent have reduced their dairy consumption. Then, in January 2021, the organization's month-long annual vegan commitment, Veganuary, reported its highest number of sign-ups: 500,000.
There are several reasons why people might have been drawn to veganism in the confinement. "For some, it is because their usual food options were not available at the supermarket, for others it has been a cost-saving exercise," a spokesperson for The Vegan Society told The Independent.
"However, I think more than anything else, the pandemic has put health at the forefront of people's minds and we have suddenly become much more aware of what we are eating, where it comes from and how it makes us feel." .
"Consumers are becoming more conscientious and ethical shoppers with many interested in seeking cruelty-free and plant-based alternatives."
We stop traveling
The pandemic has put an end to international travel for most of the past year.
Massive flight grounding during 2020 reduced aviation's CO2 emissions by about 60 percent, according to the Global Carbon Project .
Instead of traveling abroad in search of warmer climates, Brits embraced home vacations during the summer months, and a luxury accommodation specialist, Hoseasons, reported a new booking every 11 seconds in June after the first Minister lifted restrictions on overnight stays. Meanwhile, Hoseasons sister company reported a 455 percent increase in year-on-year bookings.
But beyond the holidays, due to restrictions that required Brits to stay within their local areas, we also stopped using trains and cars to get around so much, instead favoring walking and cycling: bicycle sales increased by 63 percent during the confinement.
As a result, in London, traffic pollution was reduced by as much as 50 percent during the first blockade, according to a study . Meanwhile, data from the London Air Quality Network, run by King's College London , found that air pollution dropped substantially in UK cities in March 2020.
Professor Alastair Lewis, from the National Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the University of York, explained at the time: “This is primarily a consequence of lower traffic volumes, and some of the clearest reductions have been in nitrogen dioxide, which mainly comes from the vehicle's exhaust. "
Eat more at home
With the hospitality industry shut down for much of 2020, Brits ate at home more than ever. While this has resulted in a major economic hit to the industry, cooking and eating more at home has some environmental benefits. In other words, it gives you more control over food waste prevention, which the nonprofit Friends of the Earth cites as one of the biggest problems regarding the environmental impact of our food.
Friends of the Earth estimates that more than 10 million tonnes of food is disposed of in the UK each year. And many of the things people can do to combat this come from eating more at home - recycling their own food waste, composting, and using leftovers. You can read more about food waste prevention here .
Plus, eating at home gives you more control over where you get your ingredients from. This means that you can choose to buy seasonal products that have been sourced locally rather than those that have been brought in from abroad, further reducing your carbon footprint.
Data from the shopping intelligence platform Cardlytics also found that meal kits and grocery boxes saw great growth in sales during the pandemic - spending on DIY meal kit companies, including Hello Fresh, Gousto and Mindful Chef, grew 114% in April 2020 compared to the previous year, also reducing food waste as the kits provide consumers with the exact amount of ingredients needed for a particular recipe.
We have yet to see if the pandemic will have a lasting impact on whether we eat more at home, but Mintel research found that more than half (55 percent) of people are already planning to cook at home more after COVID-19 in compared to before.
Buy less and favor your favorite fashion
One of the many ways we have become more sustainable is through our fashion choices. In 2020, clothing sales fell 25 percent, marking the biggest drop in 23 years, according to ONS figures . This is not surprising considering we had so few opportunities to socialize last year and nonessential retail was closed for much of 2020.
However, some of us looked online for our fashion solution, and when we did, we regularly opted for pre-loved clothing. In 2020, second-hand shopping app Depop saw a 200 percent year-on-year traffic increase, and its turnover doubled globally since April 1. Meanwhile, eBay reported that it had sold 1,211 percent more used items in June 2020 compared to 2018, noting a further increase of 195,691 percent in second-hand designer fashion sales at the same time.
Another eco-friendly fashion habit that emerged over the last year is DIY fashion. Remember the TikTok crochet trend that emerged last year as a result of people trying to recreate the JW Anderson multi-colored cardigan worn by Harry Styles? How could you forget? It proved so popular that Anderson himself eventually released the pattern so that people could recreate the exact cardigan at home. "Crafts flourish when people get stuck at home," Abby Glassenberg, president and co-founder of the Craft Industry Alliance , previously told The Independent.
Participation in local community groups
Another way the pandemic has made us more sustainable is simply because more people are joining local community groups that are dedicated to fighting the climate crisis. Speaking to The Independent , Friends of the Earth says they have noticed a significant increase in the number of people joining local groups.
Alasdair Roxburgh, Director of Communities and Networks for Friends of the Earth, told The Independent: “The biggest and most important change we have seen in environmental action over the past year is how people have come together in their communities to support one another.
“In just over a year since we launched them, there are now 250 Climate Action Groups in communities across the country. The incredible work done by mutual aid groups, councils, local businesses and more showed the power and speed of change that can occur when communities work together at the local level. This has definitely translated into action against the climate crisis. "
You can see the full list of the nonprofit's Climate Action Groups on their website , which has a tool that allows you to type in your zip code and find the one closest to you. Different groups have different priorities.
For example, in Newcastle, a group has petitioned the government for safe cycling, and in Newbury, they are campaigning for paper bags at their local Tesco. Meanwhile, in Ilkley, a group is campaigning for local people to switch to banks that don't invest in fossil fuels.
  Source The Independent