Article written by Cesca Vassallo Form 4 Our Lady Immaculate School Student

            Have you ever stopped to consider how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we live? Have you noticed that some things we are doing now could be saving the earth? Let us consider one simple example. Have your trips to the grocery store become less frequent because you want to lessen your exposure to the virus?  There you have it! You’ve already started helping the earth by decreasing your carbon footprint. 

This pandemic has had a great impact on our lifestyles. It is proving to be a learning experience and a major wake up call. It has opened our eyes to how much we do not take care of our planet as much as we should, how much waste we generate and how many packaged products we utilise each day. As humans we are very stuck in our ways and in our bad habits.  

Covid-19 has also made us aware of our impact on the environment in a positive way. During the lockdown many people started working from home.  Because less transport was being used for longer stretches of time the result was significantly less air pollution.  As the lockdown days passed this started showing for example, trees were looking greener. Hence, the example mentioned above about making fewer runs to the shops for groceries!  Less traffic has also resulted in other benefits such as a marked decrease also in noise pollution. A quieter environment will have a positive impact on millions of people daily, could this have had a positive impact on nature too? 

            Covid has brought with it many inconveniences and disruptions to our daily lives, but it has given our planet a break from our carelessness. Maybe we had become immune to seeing litter around in our streets but the sudden appearance of masks being thrown away so irresponsibly and littering our streets makes us cringe and could prove a reality check. This behaviour will lead to serious consequences in the future and most of the population hasn’t noticed this yet and when they do it might be too late. We must act now to make the world a better place. This is a wake-up call which we need to take seriously because what we do now affects our future and the future of those generations yet to come! Covid-19 has given the environment some breathing space and time to bounce back.

During the period of lockdown across the world, the sight of clean blue skies and greener trees created a sense of optimism and hope among many people that it is possible to achieve a clean and improved environment.  A September 2020 report issued by the World Health Organisation indicated that almost 8% of total deaths in the world are due to air pollution. Many respiratory diseases such as pulmonary hypertension are being triggered by this problem worldwide. When restrictions were at their strictest, the human footprint softened to a level which would have been impossible to reach if our lives had not changed.

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information “All man-made emissions were controlled because of lockdown during COVID-19. The World meteorological Organization states that economic activity has been limited during COVID-19 which resulted in a decline in CO2 emissions.” Once lockdown eased, traffic surged back and so did air pollution. 

Covid-19 has also created new challenges for the environment. For instance, the generation of biomedical waste increased, recycling activities lessened and the use of single use items went up. Even though air pollution decreased, soil and water pollution increased because of all the harmful waste that was being discarded in landfills and in our roads. The pandemic is affecting human life and the global economy, which is ultimately affecting the environment and the earth’s climate.

In the spirit of finding some positives for the environment out of the negative effects created by this pandemic, let’s all see what we can continue to do to grasp this opportunity and make this world a better place for the next generations! Continue to plan and minimise the use of vehicles, plant a tree or house plants in pots, unplug our electronics and go for a walk amongst nature… these may sound like small, simple steps but they will push us to better our lifestyles and to lead lives that are more in synch with the needs of the rest of creation. Above all, we should promise ourselves that even when, hopefully, one day we rid ourselves of this dreadful pandemic, we will remember all that we have learnt and safeguard the ‘positives’ that are making such a big difference to this earth we live in.