During lockdown many people have adapted to create new, different, ways of living that turned out to be less wasteful, more thoughtful and kinder on our environment. And, given that ecological decline creates conditions for pandemics, how especially in relatively wealthy countries, better lives are possible with less ‘stuff’.

Lessons from lockdown: Living with less stuff

How we learned to eat better, to buy less wastefully and to have fun making more with what we had already

Our community has been through a wide range of trauma during the covid pandemic. It has been a time of fear, about incomes and food, aswell as fear of infection and danger for the people we love. But there have been positive elements of the experience too. For those in the global north in particular, most of whom are consuming well beyond
current planetary limits, being shut inside has meant doing more with less. Millions have spent time at home with family or walking outside, grateful for the internet to enable communication, but also returning to homemade activities.

Lessons from Lockdown: Living with less stuff

There have been and are still many people struggling financially during this time and using foodbanks to keep themselves going. This briefing focuses specifically on those who are not in this situation.

Many have delighted in clear skies and clean air – even in cities – without airplanes and traffic jams, communities have emerged from nowhere to enjoy urban streets reclaimed from traffic for cafes and local businesses, support each other with mutual aid groups, and see how the return of nature was startling in its speed and variety. There are many potential lessons that could be sifted from the tragedy about how we might run the world differently – with more kindness, less waste and a greater awareness of our place in the natural world.

Lessons from lockdown: many people found changes improved health and reduced debt

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We have seen multiple examples of how the global pandemic has paused consumption in many areas, making people more cautious and more aware of some of their purchasing choices. So how can these lessons from lockdown be locked-in to ensure future action? How can the option of a simpler lifestyle, with less shopping, less debt, and healthier eating be maintained as the crisis changes shape and moves down the
news agenda?

Businesses will be desperate to get spending up and governments reliant on the revenue and employment this brings, will be doing all they can to encourage consumers to spend. How might we cut the proliferation of stuff that over-complicates our lives and threatens the planet by buying only what we need, mending things when they break and re-purposing them when we no longer need them? Could we see ourselves shift permanently from being passive consumers to being creators of things we need – both physical, practical and creative?

This guide has been made possible by the support of the KR Foundation – krfnd.org – it is the result of contributions from many groups and individuals and is published by the Rapid Transition Alliance – rapidtransition.org – where you can find many of these examples explored in more detail.

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