Tuesday, October 20, 2020
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A Reliable Sustainable Response to COVID-19

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The world’s current lockdown due to COVID-19 is, simply, good for the environment. The world’s air pollution levels have fallen as fewer people around the world are flying or driving, significantly reducing the use of fossil fuels.

A Sustainable Response to COVID-19
A Sustainable Response to COVID-19. photo by ready made.

The photos of animals appearing all over our deserted national parks, taking over empty cities, or congregating in unlikely places including highways or the middle of the street highlight the impact humans have on the earth. While our world’s current state is temporary, will there be long-term environmental responses once COVID-19 is over? 

Businesses and individuals should take charge instead of waiting for sweeping and meaningful government action. Here are some ways the public can continue the current positive environmental momentum for a more sustainable post-pandemic world.

Companies Should Encourage Working From Home

One of the most significant reasons behind why air pollution is dramatically down is due to the stay at home mandate. Although the mandate was intended to keep people from going out and contracting or spreading the virus, the smaller number of people driving to and from work, running on errands, or going on recreational trips is good for the environment.

In a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency claims more than 10 million Americans have a daily commute longer than two hours. Companies should take steps to encourage a portion of their employees to telecommute or work from home. The move will not only save their employees time and the expense from driving to and from work, but it will also minimize their carbon emissions contribution.

Working from home.
A Sustainable Response to COVID-19: Working From Home. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio.

The key to a productive and efficient remote work setup is high-speed internet. The faster and more reliable the internet connection, the clearer video conference streaming will appear without suffering from lag time or interruptions. Data transfers between the company’s server and the remote worker’s home base will also be faster, cutting down on long wait times. Companies with employees who live in urban areas where high-speed fiber optic is available may fare better working from home. Fiber optic internet is not only faster, but it’s also a greener internet source because it uses less energy to run.

Businesses Should Consider Sustainable Energy Sources

A sustainable business is conscious of its effects on the environment and the community it serves. Sustainable businesses have evolved to include more sophisticated operational ideas including the triple bottom line. The concept involves how a business can promote more ecologically responsible practices to weigh corporate responsibility in quantitative (or money-saving) terms.

For people committed to sustainable living, they choose to follow their ecological principles because of their beliefs. They may not like that a business only elects to be more environmentally responsible just to save on the bottom dollar. However, if saving money encourages more companies to cut back on practices that are harmful to the environment, it’s a win-win for the business and the earth.

Regardless of the approach that a business takes, one of the most effective ways a company could be more environmentally responsible is by looking for more sustainable alternatives to power their business operations and manufacturing. A company should consider replacing their traditional power source with solar or wind power as an alternative. If the company can’t install its own panels because they don’t have the capital or because they lease their location, they may be able to buy power directly through green energy providers.

Most states allow individuals and businesses to choose the company that powers their electrical needs. They may even allow customers to select the type of renewable energy they’d like to access. Even if a company is unable to purchase their power directly from a green supplier because of local regulations, they may be able to buy green certificates separately to offset their use of carbon-dependent energy. Known as renewable energy certificates (RECs), a business can buy as many certificates as they’d like. Best of all, the majority of the power sources for these certificates come from wind power providers.

Individuals Should Better Support Sustainable Businesses

To encourage more businesses, to turn to sustainable practices that preserve and restore the environment, customers should support the most environmentally conscious businesses by purchasing their services and products.

Local farmers
A Sustainable Response to COVID-19: Local farmers. Photo by Erik Scheel.

For example, individuals can buy their produce from local farmers’ markets instead of grocery stores or big-box retailers. When a customer buys local, they are voting with their dollars for organic foods requiring minimal packaging and transportation. 

Once a consumer realizes the power they have by choosing where to spend their money, companies may take notice and make the changes they need to gain lasting and loyal customers.

Keeping the Environmental Momentum Going Post Pandemic

The earth is restoring itself while humans stay indoors to avoid spreading the virus. At some point, countries will start relaxing their restrictions. Companies and consumers can continue the positive impact the earth is experiencing by making small changes to the way they do things. Cutting back on commuting and travel by working remotely and choosing more sustainable power sources are ways companies and the customers they serve can keep the positive momentum going.

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Noah Rue
Noah Rue
Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn't searching out his next great opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the mountains and read novels based in the American Southwest.

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