COVID-19 has shut off the world for the best part of a year. With Boris Johnson recently announcing his plans to re-open, it’s paramount to think about being sustainable. Even after the pandemic, climate change will still be prominent.

A significant problem has arisen from the wearing of masks. Litter is no longer just crisp packets but disposable face masks. The elastic often gets caught around animals, and the material itself does not break down. It is vital that the public bin their masks, cut the elastic and invest in reusables.

A large change in Colchester will be sustainable travel. Last week, privately-owned SPIN e-scooters were deployed. These electric scooters are an e-friendly and cost-effective way to travel. You can access them in many different locations across Colchester, and all you need is a driver’s license. SPIN has also recently allowed NHS workers to use these for free to get to work. Additionally, Colchester’s cycle paths are brilliant, and cycling is a healthy alternative to driving.

But, if you decide to drive, the council launched the scheme “CAReless pollution campaign” which encourages drivers to turn off their engines when they are not needed. It is ever more important that we use our cars in an environmentally friendly way, with more people avoiding public transport due to COVID-19. This month, the British Lung Foundation found that 45 educational institutions in Colchester were in areas with exceedingly high air pollution figures.

Recently, the council have been adapting for an eco-friendly future. They received funding of £527K for their office, Rowan House. This money went towards LED lighting, extra roof insulation and energy-efficient heating. Overall, the council have pledged to “go carbon neutral by 2030” after declaring a climate emergency in July 2019.

Speaking to Colchester’s Youth Extinction Rebellion group, they said:

“When it comes to giving advice on how individuals can be sustainable, we stress the importance of systemic change being the main goal.” And “(they) would recommend first of all reducing your meat consumption. As cruel and unethical farming methods often contribute massively to the destruction of our earth's environment.”

It is also increasingly easy to recycle and reuse in Colchester. When Coronavirus restrictions lift, you can use the Refill scheme to fill up reusable water bottles. Many companies across the town support this, and it leads to less plastic waste. There are also stores with no single-use packaging. Such as Ripples Refill, Colchester Food Coop and The Natural Health Shop.

Having fun when restrictions are lifted is essential, but so is caring for our environment. Remember to be responsible this summer and beyond. Not all companies will have the climate at the forefront of their minds when coming back. However, doing your part will help build a better world to return to. Our planet is at risk, and we must save it.