The lockdown lessons I’m referring to go beyond our physical health.
Being closeted in our homes for more than three months has many hankering for more contact with the outside world. Even with more businesses and public spaces opening (and the possibility of travel restrictions easing slowly), going back to the pre-pandemic normal as we knew it may not be possible… or advisable.
If there ever was anything good to take away from the lockdown, it was families reconnecting, rediscovering home cooked meals, cleaner air and liberated wildlife. While we hated being stuck inside for so long, it gave us the opportunity to evaluate what was important to us. The lessons we learned during the lockdown should stay with us for life.
Family is most important
Spending more time together as a family was most certainly the silver lining to the lockdown. A Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF) study found that 60 percent of dads here felt closer to their kids as lockdown measures provided them more time together. Four in five UK parents also believe the coronavirus lockdown brought their family closer together according to a poll quoted by The Mirror. ZEE’s #ExtraordinaryFamilies campaign attempted to capture the precious moments while encouraging families in India to stay together during this difficult time.
Previously family time played second fiddle to the demands of a fast-paced lifestyle. Whether it was doing chores or eating meals together, being stuck at home and slowing down broke the ice. It gave us that much-needed facetime with each other. This shouldn’t end along with the lockdown.
Every morning I’d wake up to social media posts dedicated to recipe-sharing peppered with photos of home-made culinary delights displayed with their proud chefs. Within a few days the lockdown realized what healthcare practitioners had been advocating for years – more home-cooked meals and less readymade convenience food. While some tried out new recipes, others used the time to master basic culinary skills. Several parents took the opportunity to cook up some fun with their kids. It seemed the perfect time to get children of all ages involved in the kitchen and inculcate some healthy eating habits. Working and studying from home appears to have quelled appetite for fast food even when available in my house. I’m hoping this good habit sticks.
Reducing food waste
Long lines at grocery stores and inventory shortages had a positive outcome on our food consumption habits. It encouraged the waste-not-want-not philosophy. Almost half of people (48%) polled in one study said they were throwing away less food. Additionally, 51% said they were planning meals more carefully and getting better at using up their leftovers. No doubt the closure of restaurants also contributed to less food wastage at home.
Reducing food waste helps save money in addition to having a positive environmental impact. A 2019 Second Harvest report showed that the annual cost of avoidable food loss and waste in Canada is $1,766 per household. Sadly food waste in the country created some 56.6 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions. Food in landfills also creates methane gas, which is “25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide”, according to the report.
Giving nature her due
A fox carrying a squirrel in its mouth while crossing the street in Toronto, a kangaroo hopping through empty streets in Adelaide, wild boars walking across a residential area in Haifa and a peacock dancing on an empty Mumbai street were picturesque positives of the pandemic lockdown. With the humans locked indoors, wildlife got a chance to come out.
Environmental reports also show that major cities with the worst air pollution saw reductions of deadly particulate matter by up to 60% from the previous year, during a three-week lockdown period. Seven out of the 10 cities studied, including New Delhi, Seoul, Wuhan and Mumbai, saw significant improvements in air quality according to a CNN report. London and Madrid too experienced reductions in their PM2.5 compared to 2019 during their lockdown periods.
Environment Canada informed us that most of our big Canadian cities saw air pollution fall by a third amid the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Nitrogen dioxide levels fell more than 30 percent in Toronto and Montreal. The drop was closer to 40 per cent in Edmonton and Calgary. This was mainly because there were fewer cars on the roads, and factories either closed or cut production.
Being with family, healthy cooking, reducing environmental pollution and respecting nature are lessons I would like to hold on to as the lockdown ends. The pandemic might have changed our lives forever and it’s in our best interest to build on the little good that it has done.