our initial perception that the strict lockdown measures in March 2020 allowed nature to sigh with relief was well placed.
Covid vs Sustainability
Our initial perception that the strict lockdown measures in March 2020 allowed nature to sigh with relief was well placed. Bird and insect life returned to previously uninhabited areas and the smog clouds over the big cities lifted and then disappeared altogether. Living nature seemed invigorated, seemingly as a result of less human impact due to lockdown.
The specific environmental improvements brought about by the forced economic shut down could be found in:
A substantial increase in personal protection equipment (PPE) waste,
a substantial increase in domestic waste,
a reduction in waste recycling.
Is one of the alarming statistics associated with PPE waste (which includes spent hand sanitizers and cleaning products) following the implementation of Covid health measures. Stated quantitively, 89 million masks and 76 million pairs of gloves are used and discarded globally each month according to an estimate of the World Health Organisation. And many have already landed on remote beaches, in rivers and landfill.
The increase in domestic waste is directly attributable to a rising demand for online shopping and take-away foods, which require additional, instantly obsolete packaging. Certain FMCG retailers and coffee shops who pre-covid accepted plastic bags and coffee cups from customers for refill (towards conservation efforts) stopped doing so subsequent to the lockdown announcement.
The fact that the recycling industry, including the important work of informal waste reclaimers, ground to a halt during lockdown, is the last leg in this eco triple whammy.
That is not where it ends however. Collateral environmental damage caused by lockdown includes an increase in deforestation to make provision for the rising demand for packaging together with an increase in illegal poaching in many marginal settings as a reaction to economic hardship occasioned by stagnant trade.
Do we need further reminding of the contamination to soil, rivers and the ocean caused by plastic breakdown, or marine species negatively affected by discarded plastics? Despite a fourth increase in the plastic bag levy since 2003, no discernible behavioural change has yet taken place.
as consumers’ demand for green and sustainable products and services grow, so do the incidents of greenwashing.
to fully appreciate the process of nourishment requires a different perspective and broader philosophy.
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