Green Resolutions

5 easy green habits from 2020 worth keeping

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According to the Global Carbon Project, fossil-fuel related carbon dioxide emissions dropped a whopping 7 percent during 2020.


Global Carbon Project

The pandemic forced many to reconsider their habits in lockdown, leading to reduced emissions.

With that in mind ...

Here are the top 5 climate-friendly pandemic habits we should keep in 2021.

5. Buying Electric Cars

Car buying soared during the pandemic, but there was one small bright spot for planet Earth: Electric cars boomed too. Tesla sold a record-breaking 139,300 vehicles in the third quarter of 2020.

4. Buying less clothing

According to a survey of South Korean households, individuals across income brackets reduced clothing consumption during the pandemic. The garment industry — especially fast fashion — is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Traveling closer to home

Americans took more road trips and flew less in 2020, and it's likely that will continue in 2021. Air travel declined by 70 percent at the peak of the lockdown, Pep Canadell, Executive Director of the Global Carbon Project, tells Inverse.

2. Spending time outdoors

More people took to cycling and walking than ever before during the pandemic, offsetting the reduction in public transit ridership. Spending time in green spaces is also good for mental health.

1. Staying home

"The single most important factor in the drop was emission reductions from the transport sector, particularly road transport, suggesting that the actual lockdowns truly kept people at home and traveling less nationally and internationally," Canadell tells Inverse.

Should we worry about returning to our pre-pandemic habits?

Not necessarily.

"Where contexts remain stable, if strong habits have been formed, we would predict that the behavior will persist after lock-down," Phillippa Lally tells Inverse. Lally is a senior research fellow at University College London’s Department of Behavioral Science and Health.

But there's still a chance we'll spiral back into old habits if a vaccine returns us to pre-COVID life.

"Habits are about context...if previous pre-lockdown habit cues return, then old habits are likely to again guide behavior," says Lally.


So, we shouldn't assume that we'll stick to these habits automatically. Habit-keeping requires conscious effort.

"If people want to maintain or form pro-environmental behaviors, they need to create an environment that is supportive of those choices," Lally says.

Lally suggests making a game plan for sticking to your good habits in 2021 - like keeping your bicycle in top shape.

"It would also help to get the things you need, like your helmet, ready the night before, and you could even put the car keys out of the way," Lally says.


Read more science stories here.

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