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Joanna Lumley: Covid pandemic has made environmental crisis much worse

Joanna Lumley (Mary McCartney)
Joanna Lumley (Mary McCartney)

Joanna Lumley has said she fears the Covid-19 pandemic has made the environmental crisis “much worse” and urged people to think “what would David Attenborough do?”

The actress called for the Government to intervene on the use of single-use plastics, as she warned it can be “hard to change”.

She told the PA news agency: “There is a limit to what we can continue saying about Covid, we have all been affected by it.

“We have all been in lockdown, we have all had lockdown fever, we have all various good or bad or indeed terribly sad and tragic times but there is not much more we can say about it and I think one of the ways to lift depression is to think about the good thing you can do.

Joanna Lumley (Mary McCartney/Brita)

“You think the whole problem of excess plastic is too big for me to tangle with but the truth is, I’ve found this all the way through my life, is if you can make an effort, and it is making an effort, and do something good every day, like not throwing plastic away, not buying plastic in the first place, if you can make an effort towards looking after what is our only home.

“It’s exciting to think what could I do? And the first thing you can do is to get the water out of the tap.

“I’ve just been doing some work with a charity in Darfur where the little children walk up to 14 miles a day to get water and you think honestly we have got it pouring out of the taps so let’s treat the fresh sweet water we have got with respect and don’t waste your money on bottled water.”

Lumley, who is backing a campaign by Brita to highlight how small changes can make a big environmental impact, said: “The normal ways of doing things are the hardest things to shift, it’s not like people want to go on behaving in a way that is now being criticised, it’s just that it’s the normal way of doing it.

(Mary McCartney/Brita)

“Things are automatically wrapped up in cellophane or sealed in a plastic bag, when it doesn’t need to be in  plastic bag but there is it, and all those things are very hard to change and I think a lot of it must come through legislation.

“If things were made law it would make such a huge difference. If manufacturers and suppliers were not allowed to wrap their things in plastic which can’t be processed and had to use that starch by-product, that would be absolutely brilliant.

“It might cost a bit more to begin with but the more people who use it, the easier it will be to bring the price down and therefore to make it accessible for all our goods.

“I think it needs an effort and I know this pandemic has left a lot of people, including me sometimes, thinking ‘What’s the point? It’s all so tiring, it’s so dreary and we don’t quite know when we come out of lockdown what we will be ale to do and everything is a bore,’ but I promise you, try to do something good and you won’t feel quite so depressed.”

Addressing the environmental impact of the pandemic, she said it has made the situation “much worse,” and added: “I would never throw a mask away, I wash them and keep them.

“Sadly on my short walk to get the newspapers in the morning, every day I see people feeling virtuous as they discard their masks, but it’s all on the pavement now.

“I don’t use hand sanitiser, I use a bar of soap and that is good enough for me and I’m fit and well, so I’m not sure we need to buy quite so much hand sanitiser.

“I would think all the time ‘What would David Attenborough say, sweetie? Would he approve of this?’

“And he’s the most genial loving bold lion of a man and he would understand all kinds of slip-ups, I’m not saying turn into a virtuous person overnight, but just say please make an effort.”

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