Throughout the long history of mankind, major diseases have always changed people's lives and society. In the past, the Black Death did it, and now COVID-19 is doing it. The infectious disease that started in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China on November 17, 2019 has bullied us so long. Since COVID-19, there have been major changes across the society as well as living changes, such as disinfecting our hands, wearing masks, and reducing going out.
Social changes after COVID-19
The first major social change this article will look at is the development of the Untact industry. Due to the outbreak of the disease, the untact industry, also called non-face-to-face technology, has made a rapid progress toward Internet technology such as telecommuting, which has been available but has not changed easily.
The second social change is the nation's way of managing infectious diseases. In the past countries guaranteed people's freedom even if the epidemic spread a huge backlash in the form of massive spread. In the case of COVID-19, the South Korean government quickly established a task force and controlled it. This shows that the government's control of disease is tenacious, unlike in the past.
The third is the change of religion. In the past, when an epidemic was circulating, believers leaned on religion or gathered and relied on each other to solve it; however, looking at the base of the spread of COVID-19, many cases showed that transmission was not only spread due to gatherings, but also that disease could not be solved through religious rituals.
Aside from these social changes, there are other changes that we can feel with our bodies. That is the change in people's consumption.
Changes in Consumption Patterns after COVID-19
According to the United Nations' International Committee on Resources, consumption at the beginning of the new millennium has emerged as the most serious environmental problem. Consumption was at the center of all environmental problems, including climate change, species extinction, and toxic pollution, in that the end result of reckless consumption, no matter how expensive the item is, is ultimately trash. Even if it is not necessarily an expensive item, buying new items frequently is not a proud thing from an environmental point of view.
Many economists say we should spend more. The reasoning is that a decrease in consumption will lead to a serious economic recession. But on the environmental front, the increase in consumption borders on disaster. In the past few years, some popular rappers and celebrities have become the envy of teenagers with the new term ‘flex’ becoming a rallying cry, which refers to the boasting of expensive cars and luxury consumption. Flex, which was popular before COVID-19, has subsided as COVID-19 spreads around the world, and environmental problems have gained more attention with ‘Zero Waste’ and ‘Deconsumer’ emerging as new consumption habits.
‘Zero Waste’ aims to ensure that all products, packaging, and materials can be reused without burning them. In other words, it preserves and recycles all resources through production, consumption, reuse, and recovery without discharging them into the land, oceans, and air in order not to threaten the environment or human health. ‘Deconsumer’ refers to people who actively want their own or the world's consumption to decrease. Above all, they are those who accurately recognize the 'freedom or right not to buy' as consumers.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak forcing people to remain in their homes, the environments at major tourist attractions and forests recovered. As a result, people naturally became interested in nature, and the consumption habits of Zero Waste and Deconsumer trends spread to the general public, and interest in consumption for environmental protection is growing. Reflecting on these people's perceptions, many products are being released in the direction of protecting the environment.
In the past, cosmetics were mainly advertised for their durability and performance, but now companies are promoting products by appealing to consumers’ concerns for the environment, animals, and plants, such as products that have not been tested on animals. For another example, fur, formerly a symbol of the rich, is now considered a symbol of the environment-damaging person, and is shunned even from the rich. What is more, multi-use tableware that does not affect the environment easily, eco-friendly sanitary bags that do not destroy the environment by using wheat husks, sugar cane straws that are beneficial to the environment by using barley, and detergents and fabric softeners that do not cause water pollution are already deeply embedded in our lives.
COVID-19 now seems to be showing its final strength. Many experts now predict that it will hide itself around us, and the public can feel it in person. Even after COVID-19 is over, it is important to continue to protect the environment as it is now, reflect on our consumption habits, and minimize negative effects of our spending. Starting from January 30th, we can now take off our masks indoors. As much as the end of COVID-19 really seems to be upon us, we will have to act while thinking not only about us but also about the environment. So far, I have talked about social changes and changes in consumption patterns after COVID-19 ends. We are moving in a non-face-to-face direction and towards protecting nature, and it would be good for us to keep this flow going.