Next week, Villanova is hosting a virtual Teach-In to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. This celebration falls within a larger Earth Month event, encouraging people to challenge themselves to live more sustainably. The webpage for the event can be found here, including subpages with specific information on how you can reduce your carbon footprint with small lifestyle changes.
With information broken down into Energy, Waste, Water, and Food concerns, the weekly sustainability challenges could offer a good way to become more mindful of your environmental impact.
Personally, I will try one of the challenges to line dry my clothes instead of using the dryer. I think that spring’s arrival is the perfect time to try it out.
However, there are many great suggestions provided: reusing old clothing to make tote bags and bathmats, making hand sanitizer with few at-hand ingredients, and opting for biodegradable packaging when possible.
I have certainly become more conscious of my ecological footprint at these times, taking more time out to compost food waste and saving those horrifically bruised and soft vegetables for soup stocks.
I am spending more time in my backyard, preparing numerous buckets to plant herbs and vegetables in, as well as maintaining a compost bucket for personal use in addition to my weekly compost pickup bucket. Although these changes are small, I hope that I can continue them to be a more environmentally conscious person in the future.
Yet, it is important to recognize that these lifestyle changes must extend beyond the lock downs and shelter-in-place orders. In addition, many of the fault for carbon emissions are out of our own hands and backyards, requiring large-scale systemic change spearheaded by responsible governance.
I am sure many of us have seen the photos and videos circulating online that show skylines absent of smog, and oft-discrete wildlife venturing into areas normally dominated by people. However, it is important to recognize that the current emission reductions brought on by Covid-19 lockdowns are not long-term changes. A recent article from the International Energy Agency (linked here) clearly express these concerns.
“We may well see CO2 emissions fall this year as a result of the impact of the coronavirus on economic activity, particularly transport. But it is very important to understand that this would not be the result of governments and companies adopting new policies and strategies. It would most likely be a short-term blip that could well be followed by a rebound in emissions growth as economic activity ramps back up.
Real, sustained reductions in emissions will happen only if governments and companies fulfill the commitments that they have already announced–or that they will hopefully announce very soon.”
–Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director International Energy Agency
Nate Gosweiler is a graduate assistant for Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication department. This week, he is slogging through some more of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day.