The Echo

Posted: 12th February 2021

The impact of the pandemic.

The Senior Eco Committee has prepared the latest edition of ‘The Echo’, the bulletin from the Junior and Senior Eco Committees which aims to engage our wider community in issues surrounding sustainability and reducing our carbon footprints.

This edition discusses the impact of the Covid pandemic:

‘Owing to the pandemic, there has been a reduction in air pollution and car journeys, which is good, but owing to the amount of PPE used, there has been an increased amount of plastic waste and more home energy use because everyone is learning or working at home.

The Covid 19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the world – many negative impacts, but there are some positives from everyone staying at home. Since the pandemic began the carbon emissions have fallen fast. In China, emissions fell 25% at the start of the year as people were instructed to stay at home, factories shut and coal use fell by 40% at China’s six largest power plants since the last quarter of 2019. The proportion of days with “good quality air” was up 11.4% compared with the same time last year in 337 cities across China, according to its Ministry of Ecology and Environment. In Europe, satellite images show nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions fading away over northern Italy, Spain and the UK.

There are many different reasons why these emissions have dropped. The first reason is transport, which makes up 23% of global carbon emissions. These emissions have fallen in the short term in countries where public health measures, such as keeping people in their homes, have cut unnecessary travel. Driving and aviation are key contributors to emissions from transport, contributing 72% and 11% of the transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions respectively.

The global disruption caused by the COVID-19 has brought about several effects on the environment and climate. An increased use of PPE (e.g., face mask, hand gloves etc.), their haphazard disposal, and generation of a huge amount of hospital waste has negative impacts on the environment. In the UK on average 53 million masks are thrown away each day. 90% of all masks used are discarded, and globally, 129 billion disposable masks are used per month. The majority of these masks never make it to proper disposal and end up on the streets, which could eventually enter rivers and the sea.

Can we make a difference? During COVID we can all help the environment in a simple way. For example, investing in a reusable mask or, if disposable masks are used, to make sure they are disposed of properly. A swap from harsh environmentally damaging cleaning products to environmentally friendly products, can make a huge difference. This can involve using cleaning products with fewer chemicals, recycled plastics bottles, reusable cleaning cloths and buying refills which use less plastic and can be put into the same plastic containers. There is also the possibility of switch our small hand sanitiser bottles to reusable ones.

The St Augustine’s Priory Eco Committees have launched a Twitter and Instagram (@ecopriory), so please give us a follow to support the team!

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