Despite the many ongoing challenges, we’ve seen the recent national lockdown lead to some positive news for our environment here in the UK, and indeed globally.
From clearer waters to wildlife in new places, the temporary reduction in pollution has reminded us of the benefits of a cleaner planet. But how can we help ensure the lessons of what is feared to have been a brief hiatus from climate harm continue beyond the easing of lockdown?
With 56% of people noticing the air has been cleaner in their local area1, one way people can continue to make positive environmental changes is by cycling to school or work rather than jumping in the car every day. Research has shown that in England around 60% of trips just 1-2 miles long are made by car.
The average petrol car on the road in the UK produces between 170g and 180g of CO2 every kilometre. If the school is a mile away and you drive there and back twice a day, in an average size car every day during term times, then you'd need to plant eight trees a year to offset just those short journeys.
Meanwhile, tree planting has been shown to be one of the best actions we can take to soak up the carbon already emitted. So if we planted trees and used our cars less, we'd be helping the UK take steps towards achieving its carbon reduction goals and also help to clean up the air we breathe.
Eating it all up
The environmental impact of food production is one of the biggest challenges we need to tackle. Before lockdown, we were wasting an incredible £9.7 billion of food a year. That all changed after we started staying in, with a dramatic cut in the amount of food wasted across the UK.
A survey carried out by the environmental charity Hubbub in April 2020, showed that 48% of the people polled were throwing away less food than before.
Cooking and sharing food with families, both in real life and virtually through video meetings, has also been a positive effect of the lockdown. Over 90% of the people surveyed1 said their cooking and shopping habits had changed and people who previously relied on eating out and convenience meals have been cooking from scratch instead.
Earlier this year we celebrated more than two whole months of coal-free electricity generation in the UK. This was a first since the industrial revolution. This has been driven by less demand for power during lockdown but it's a huge step in the right direction for a greener energy network.
You can take the power into your own hands by installing solar panels in your home which could help keep the demand on the national grid lower and also help cut your energy bills. Or you can switch to an energy supplier that provides you with 100% renewables-backed electricity2 as standard, like we do.
Shopping locally and supporting small businesses can also have a positive impact, especially if they're also supplied by 100% renewables-backed sources3.
More than half (53%) of people surveyed1 said shopping locally is an environmental choice they plan to continue as the ‘new normal’ sets in. And the majority of businesses we asked (72%)4 said lockdown measures have made them re-evaluate their environmental credentials – so there’s an opportunity for local, small business to support more local people all while being backed by 100% renewable electricity. Win-Win.
So as we head back into normal life, now is the time to have those conversations with retailers in your local community and commit together to keeping the future green as the lockdown eases.
Small and easy changes can help turn those short-term carbon savers we did during lockdown into long term environmental commitments, further helping the UK meet its net zero goal and future generations.
1. Research conducted on behalf of E.ON by 3GEM in June 2020 with 2,000 UK adults.
2. Electricity sourced from E.ON’s renewable generation assets, supply agreements with independent UK wind generators and the purchase of renewable electricity certificates. The electricity supplied to your homes comes from the National Grid. Find out more at eonenergy.com/renewable
3. SME customers that sign a contract directly with E.ON. Electricity sourced from E.ON’s renewable generation assets, supply agreements with independent UK wind generators and the purchase of renewable electricity certificates. The electricity supplied to homes and businesses comes from the National Grid.
4. Research conducted on behalf of E.ON by 3GEM in June 2020 with 500 UK business decision makers.