It is not all positive – the real environmental impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of so many people around the world. The practice of self-isolation and social distancing has been implemented across various continents and has changed our professional lives as well as our social lives, overnight.

What is less obvious to most is the impact this pandemic and many people self-isolating has left on our environment, both good and bad. The situation can be compared to a balance scale, the good and the bad are in constant battle. Air quality has improved and there is less traffic, therefore, less pollution. In contrast, panic-buyers are booming and the mountains of waste are increasing.

The drastic change in emissions

The most blatant change came due to the fact that cars have drastically reduced from our roads, as well as the minimization of air travel, creating a large decrease in air pollution and an increase in overall air quality. Malta recorded a 70% decrease in air pollution in the past month, while China has seen 25% fewer emissions since the start of 2020. Six of the largest power plants in China have also recorded a decrease in coal use by around 40% since 2019. Unfortunately, the impact of this pandemic is not only positive, as some aspects are being overlooked.

Since many people are staying at home, as they rightly should, there will undoubtedly be a surge in water and electricity consumption. So if we do not think consciously our power stations would need to burn more fossil fuels, as well as contribute to higher water and electricity bills, and in difficult times like these, nobody needs.

Simple measures can be used to avoid access consumption, such as opting for showers instead of baths, making sure that all unnecessary lights are turned off, using heat only when necessary and turning off plus unplugging appliances that are not in use such as laptops and mobile chargers.

Waste, waste and more waste!

Another big contributor is the, so-called, ‘panic buying’. Since people aren’t really focused on shopping consciously but are more focused on hoarding, this results in excess food waste and plastic waste. To avoid such waste is to make small and simple changes, such as opting for bars of soap instead of liquid soap in plastic bottles. The best way is to plan your meals ahead of time, so if for example. Do your shopping once a week, Instead of buying a variety of food without a clear idea of what you will be cooking, plan out your meals for the week. This avoids shortages of certain necessary products. Not only will the environment benefit from this but your bank account will thank you as well.

When this dark period in our lives passes, we should be more conscious of our carbon footprint. As during times like these, we realise that, for example, certain tasks can be done from home, saving you from having to take your car out and add to pollution. It will teach us how to not take things for granted and let them go to waste, so do try to keep the planning ahead going. At the end of the day, our outside environment is what we will look the most forward to, once we leave our houses. But for now, we need to make sacrifices for those vulnerable in our society and stay safe, by remaining at home.

cover image: source

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and are not reflective of ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ as a whole.


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