Sustainability: In light of our current situation

By: Chloe Sandifer-Stech

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found it very interesting to see the positive effects that

Pollution in China
NASA’s satellite images showed a significant decrease in nitrogen dioxide over China after the onset of COVID-19.

economic and industrial limitations have had on the natural environment. It’s refreshing to see images of cleaner air in China, and pictures of the crystal-clear Venice water. While these may only be temporary outcomes of our current situation, it shows how a society, under necessary circumstances, can unanimously fight environmental harm.

A case study I found particularly interesting, proving the positive effects of this pandemic on the environment, is the city of Amsterdam’s preparations once the worst of the coronavirus passes. While many nations have unfortunately rolled back on environmental restrictions to regenerate the economy, law officials in Amsterdam are planning on using the ‘doughnut model’ structure to try and address both local socioeconomic and environmental issues at once, regenerating the economy while also protecting the environment after COVID-19. While the exact details have not been laid out yet, the city plans on changing how trash is processed and taking strides to enforce sustainable construction work.[1] It’s uplifting to see how situations like our current global pandemic have the power to open our eyes and cause us to take steps to live more sustainably both on local and societal levels.

Regretfully, my approach to sustainability has changed since the outbreak of COVID-19. For example, I don’t take reusable bags to the grocery store anymore because I fear bringing them home to sit in the house while they could perhaps be contaminated. With single use bags, I am able to quickly throw them out after getting the groceries inside. I’ve also gone through a ridiculous number of plastic gloves and paper towels.

Pollution Difference
The India Gate war memorial in New Delhi shows how air pollution has decreased in countries around the world. Picture Credits: Reuters

While I know these are necessary precautions considering the pandemic and severity, I do feel a sense of guilt that I am not being as sustainable as I know I could be or even as I had been prior, a feeling I know is shared among many. But I know it is imperative during this time that we take every step possible to stop the spread of the virus and make it safely to the other side where we can one day resume our fight again environmental issues.

While there are many sacrifices we are making to our sustainable lives, there are also ways we can still incorporate sustainable behaviors in our lives during this time. I encourage you to check out a website called Earth Day Eco Challenge, which offers lists of daily challenges and actions to reduce our environmental footprint. It is empowering me to know that while I cannot change our current situation, I have agency over my own actions and can direct them towards greater environmental health and wellbeing as we move toward the future.


[1] See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/08/amsterdam-doughnut-model-mend-post-coronavirus-economy for more information

 

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