How the heck is it December already? What happened? I swear I was making my blue-eyed new year’s resolutions just yesterday (you know, all things I had planned…). For those of you residing in the more Western region of the hemisphere, you may have noticed how the sky has become whiter, the air has a frosty bite, cheeks are getting rosier and “hat hair” is now a reality. Having said that, this year has flown by (even when most of those days have felt long and listless at times), so much has happened!
Covid changed up the game, and the rules have changed!
As my last blog of 2020, I would like to take us on a journey of reflection, provide a sense of the new chapter ahead, and of course, a grounding acknowledgment of the exciting festive celebration just weeks away.
So let’s travel back in time, all the way to January. This is when China confirmed that it had a human-to-human transmitted virus, and then along came March and suddenly we all stepped into, what felt like, a dystopian universe as we entered lockdown.
Enter April, we decided to put our legs up with a brew, as assumed by the additional 15.6 million people that subscribed to Netflix, and just over 50 million to Disney+. Bring in May, when we were reminded of the unforgivable brutality of systemic racism and witnessed and in some cases, partook in the up-rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Meanwhile, the harmony of the natural world reunited; skies became clearer, goats reclaimed Welsh villages, the Himalayas became visible for the first time in 30 years, Venice canals cleared and dolphins played close to shore. In comes June, where are our masks going? Oh yeah, they’re all floating in the ocean with an estimated 130 billion masks (not to mention plastic gloves) now overtaking the amount of jellyfish in the sea…bit of a step back. Welcome November, Joe Biden and his powerhouse vice president, Kamala Harris took their seats in the US, suggesting ‘A Clean Energy Revolution’ and a promise to ‘stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of colour and low-income communities.’ Now, here we are, December, and Eliza is coming at you with a blog from “What Can You Do” to reflect and reconsider. So all in all, a big year! A universal shift in our perspectives, social justice, climate consideration, and health prioritisation. When I look at this recent history, I’m stuck by one pattern. It all seems to be somewhat of a pendulum swing, and everything has its direct opposite. Look here; Freedom vs Lockdown, relaxation and entertainment vs the ‘busy-doing’ culture, racism vs absolute equality, natural world vs human-controlled environment, sustainability vs ocean littering, Trump vs Biden, and including loss of human interaction vs the increase in online engagement. I’m sure there’s more parallels but one thing’s for sure, the pendulum has swung.
So where does this leave us now? I can’t say that we will return to ‘normality’ but I can bring together ideas and create a sense of direction for the new year. Let’s start with what was normal versus the change. The old 9-5 structure of working suddenly got shoved to the side during the pandemic as people starting to produce from home. Showing a positive effect on people’s productivity levels, if anything it provided an opportunity to balance home-life with work-life. When a survey was taken asking if businesses were planning to continue this more lavish work lifestyle, 32% said that they would be more likely to allow working from home. With this in mind, 31% of folks in the UK and US said they would like to relocate for a change of lifestyle and a more tranquil location compared to 29% that said they’d stay in the city (ref: global web index). This suggested people favouring the more nostalgic comforts that life can offer. We saw this with people redoing their homes, getting green-fingers, cooking, home-schooling, binge-watching, welcoming in more simplicity, and self-initiated luxuries. Public transport thinned out because there were fewer commuters and people became more averse to sharing a Tube handle with the other sweaty palms of potential Covid-carriers. It encouraged a new way of transport, walking, cycling, or in my case, running everywhere. 42% of regular transport users are considering a future of walking to work. The UK government and Greenpeace signed a deal for a greener future, creating cycle lanes and discouraging petrol cars more over the coming years. I’m feeling positive, are you?
As far as a more economical and business standpoint, consumers are taking back more power than ever and expecting more sustainable and conscious product production (perhaps you’re one of them). The European Parliament is listening, understanding that household consumption in the EU has major environmental impacts. They are looking at the consumer psychology behind buying products (price/habit/value/branding/need/desire etc) and are making plans to align companies to have better value for money, more upfront product information, and are sustainably responsible. This year, ‘72% of consumers across 20 countries said companies behaving sustainably was more important to them because of COVID-19’ (Global Web Index). Thank you Covid! With more online activity, live-streams, communities, emerging businesses, and groups, the market just became a whole lot more competitive (and social commitments will be tested). Covid just dusted the shelves labelled ‘just the way things are’ and created space for a new lifestyle approach and instilled more hope for Gen Z and Millennials.
The international development banks are also now committing themselves and the European Investment Bank ( EIB ) ( which with €555.8 billion in assets is the biggest – about double the size of the World Bank! ) is aligning its financing activities with the principles and goals of the Paris agreement and has committed to increasing its share of financing dedicated to climate action and environmental sustainability to reach 50% by 2025. The sustainable goals are being enhanced by more influential companies rewarding initiatives moving towards a greener, happier existence, such as the Earth Shot Prize initiated by Prince William and Sir David Attenborough, a prestigious award ‘designed to incentivise change and help repair our planet over the next ten years’. Alongside others such as the Eco Lifestyle Awards that complement companies for their active efforts in our recovery. This is good, let’s start patting the backs of forward-thinking initiatives that are clearing the cobwebs of the past.
With this all said, of course, we are approaching Christmas, for those of you who celebrate this festive season, a time for us to reconnect with our nearest and dearest, treat ourselves with deliciousness, keep warm by a fire, practice gratitude and reflect. A lot has happened this year, for you, for me, for everyone and everything. If this experience has taught us anything it’s what’s ‘real’ in this life and what is just the routine structure that turns and turns like an infinite hamster wheel. Covid may have just helped us wake up from a dream and plunged us back into a collective experience. So allow yourself to practice presence and softness during this time. Be mindful of your family, home, community, country, world, and as importantly, yourself. It’s worth mentioning, remember there are ways to be sustainable this year; use reusable wrapping paper (or even better, explore ‘Furoshiki’ – it’s a Japanese technique of wrapping things in fabric), send e-cards, buy only what you can eat, gift up-cycled and sustainable items (don’t buy plastic things for goodness sake) and look beyond the material things to provide joy and Christmas spirit. It’s important to stay healthy during the weather change as well, especially with the virus lurking, so boost up your vitamin C and eat well.
It’s time to rub our hands together in warmth, but also conjure up ideas for this next year just around the corner. Spend this next month to refresh your eyes, listen to what’s necessary, and embrace the uncertainty of the future. For the first time, in a long, long time, each of us have an equal opportunity to be architects of the new world, so use your imagination and get creative!
Make a wish!
Big love and lots of joy,
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“tellus” is a Latin word meaning “Earth” e.g. Tellus Mater the ancient Roman Earth Mother Goddess