Wellness Wednesday – 5/13/20
WELLNESS AROUND THE WEB
How COVID-19 Can Permanently Change The Way We Commute
Is it possible that the current COVID-19 pandemic can permanently change the ways we commute to work, school and stores? As the crisis has taken some public transportation services and many cars off the road, biking has become the go-to way for transportation and exercise.
Major shocks have led to shifts in transportation in the past, as FastCompany.com points out in a recent article. In the 1970s, a significant oil embargo helped lead the Netherlands to dramatically transform car-filled streets to pedestrian plazas and open space for biking. Although the embargo of the 70s isn’t identical to what the world is now experiencing with COVID-19, it may provide a hit about what’s to come.
Many American cities have been accommodating the recent surge in biking by adding new bike infrastructure. Considering this, it is possible that the growth in cycling during the crisis will help accelerate growth even after the pandemic begins to subside.
COVID-19 and Pollution
With less people on the roads and more people hopping onto bikes to commute, carbon dioxide emissions around the world have significantly decreased. In fact, 2020 is on track to see the largest yearly global decline ever in emissions, according to CBSNews.com.
In a recent online article, CBSNews juxtaposed before and after images of many major cities, and the differences in air clarity is staggering.
Still, many worry about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the environment. This CNN article explains how the COVID-19 crisis has spurred a rapid expansion in the production of desperately-needed plastic products, many of which are ending up on the streets and in oceans.
From surgical masks and gloves to protective equipment, such production is necessary during the crisis, but all that plastic ends up somewhere. Environmental commissioners fear it is just the beginning of an environmental disaster, but the problem of reducing plastic waste has taken a back seat during one of the most significant public health crises of modern times.
Global plastic production has quadrupled over the past four decades, and experts warn that if that trend continues, the making of plastics will make up 15% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. By comparison, all of the world’s forms of transportation now account for 15% of emissions.
What Can We Do?
In April, the European Commission released a guide on waste management in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission issued guidelines regarding the management of municipal waste, waste from healthcare facilities, health and safety of waste management operators, government funding and information campaign.
The best thing you can do to reduce waste on a personal level is to continue practicing environmentally conscious waste management.