Written by Katie Elizabeth Robinson
The ‘new normal’ is a term that has been thrown around a lot over the past year. It’s understandable that we would seek out a level of normality after a year of such tumult, change and challenge but we should be careful about what we wish for. As Sonya Renee Taylor says:
Title Image with a quote from Sonya Renee Taylor: "We will not go back to normal. Normal never was ... We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature."

Taylor talks of how the ‘normal’ before was one that fostered ‘greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack.’ Our environments weren’t (and still aren’t), healthy for us so we should not be barrelling towards a new version of this same normality and instead striving for a healthier future that has learnt from the past and from the pandemic.

One of the greatest things we learnt, particularly during the first stage of global lockdowns in early 2020, was of our own resilience and that of nature. Around the world we saw animals filling the gaps that humans left when we were sheltering at home, from the goats who flocked to the Welsh town of Llandudno to the pride of lions snoozing on the roads of South Africa’s Kruger National Park. London saw its fair share of wild adventurers with the native pelicans of St James’s Park heading out for a stroll to the deer chilling in the sun on the streets of Harold Hill. Stories like these shone some much needed light through all the doomscrolling and many of us looked to nature to nurture both our physical and mental health. 

As we’ve bounced in and out of various restrictions, it is crucial we remember this to ensure the short-term environmental benefits, which we delved into a little more in real-time, are sustainable in the long-run. 

‘hopes that humanity could emerge from this horror into a healthier, cleaner world will depend not on the short-term impact of the virus, but on the long-term political decisions made about what follows.’

Jonathan Watts, The Guardian

With local elections just behind us, what did we decide?

By-elections tend to follow a trend of giving the government in power a bit of a shake to remind them we can boot them out if we please. It’s even more remarkable then, considering the past year that across the UK, sitting governments held on to their seats and even claimed more. In England, the Tories gained ground and overhauled die-hard Labour seats with Labour doing the same in Wales and a triumph in Scotland for the Scottish National Party. Get ready for another referendum

Londoners however, revealed their faith in the Labour Party and in Sadiq Khan to guide our road to recovery. The decisions made about the careful balance between development and the health of our cities across the world is growing increasingly critical as 68% of the human population is expected to live in urban environments by 2050. So what does Khan have planned for our capital?

In his manifesto for re-election, he acknowledges that long before our current COVID-19 crisis, we were battling against the climate crisis. London, like many other urban centres, has dangerous levels of air pollution, far beyond the World Health Organisation’s healthy limits. Khan notes that this is also disproportionately affecting the poorest members of our society and further exacerbating social inequalities in our city.

To tackle this he aims to deliver a 10-point Green New Deal. Whilst this was raised before the re-election, it seems the whole 10 yards haven’t quite been navigated just yet so here are the headlines gleaned from his manifesto:

  1. London will be carbon-neutral by 2030 which is an ambitious but necessary target with the UK aiming for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. London gaining neutrality will significantly help this wider national target.
  2. Encourage and support green investment for London’s financial institutions. As the financial capital of the country it matters that we put our money where our mouth is.
  3. Transform our transport system into the world’s greenest which will go a long way to reducing air pollution and making the city a safer place to live. The target here is to promote walking, cycling and public transport over personal vehicle use. 
  4. The Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) was under threat should Shaun Bailey for the Conservative Party have been elected but as it was introduced by Khan himself it’s only set to expand which should further incentivise other modes of transport and support the action above.
  5. In 2019, London became the world’s first National Park City which is part of a global effort to make urban environments greener, healthier and wilder and one of Khan’s targets too.
  6. Protect and revitalise the Green Belt through rewilding initiatives and uphold the ban on fracking which would be devastating to the health of our green lungs.
  7. Continue to champion a clean energy revolution which was instigated by the London Power scheme: a green energy provider founded by Khan that ensures fairly priced clean energy is a viable option for all Londoners, not just those who can afford to switch.
  8. Formulate carbon standards for housing which will be vital as we continue to develop to facilitate growing populations in cities.
  9. Make London a zero-waste city which is an exceptionally ambitious and again vital target! Whilst he doesn’t have direct power to dictate what local authorities have to do, he will push for all properties in London to have access to food waste recycling services to make this a feasible target. As 1 in 9 people around the world currently live in hunger, it is our moral duty to reduce our food waste as much as possible, and at least recycle what waste we do produce.
  10. Create a booming green economy which will create jobs in the sustainability sector so that we can all actively participate in making our city cleaner, healthier, fairer and safer.

At One Wear Freedom, we know that waiting for the city around us to make drastic and vital change isn’t enough which is why we’ve ensured we practice a circular fashion economy. This also means that we’re positively contributing to the greener London we want to see! We’ve partnered with 1StopWash Laundry + Dry Cleaning to ensure all our clothes are washed with the most eco-friendly and environmentally safe cleaning practices in the industry, using biodegradable, health-friendly, non-toxic detergents in a commitment to reduce our consumption of resources such as energy and water and ensure we’re not adding to the pollution in our environments. 

We also share Sadiq Khan’s commitment to zero waste. From our reusable or recyclable packaging to the very nature of renting, we’re extending the life of our clothes and all our resources to avoid contributing to landfill and incineration. 

If you want to be part of this positive change, we’ve highlighted a couple of actions under Things You Can Do and perhaps one of the greatest environmental choices you can make today is to join us in the Rental Revolution! Whilst it’s not up to us as individuals alone, as we said on Earth Day, we have a collective power to instigate sweeping change and bring down the institutions that continue to abuse our planet. So, next time you have the opportunity to vote, keep an eye on the environmental commitments of those running for power and if they’re not good enough, we can demand better together. If you’re particularly active or you’re looking for a way to become so, the Greenpeace Political Lobbying Network is an incredibly supportive place to start.

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