Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It will likely be one of the cleanest days in recent history – even if it was an unintended effect. In fact, the pandemic is even being referred to as “the largest scale experiment ever” when it comes to pollution. One of the many astounding revelations that has come from the COVID-19 pandemic is how our typical, everyday life has been devastating our environment.
National Geographic just published a gripping article about how lockdowns around the world are clearing the air. It mentions that even without factoring in COVID-19 deaths, air pollution kills seven-million people a year. It goes on to cite a new study out of Harvard University that found air pollution is a major contributing factor in COVID-19 fatalities. Lead author Francesca Dominici, PhD, writes “we have determined that there is a large overlap between causes of deaths of COVID-19 patients and the diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to fine particulate matter.”
The Guardian just published a fantastic article expounding the impact of COVID-19 on air pollution levels by providing numbers from reputable sources, visual comparisons from NASA and research from the World Health Organization. As the article mentions, nitrogen dioxide is a toxic gas that “causes inflammation in the airways.” And according to NASA, nitrogen dioxide levels across eastern and central China have been 10-30% lower than normal.
Single-use-plastic is a huge component to the pollution equation. According to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), “in 2015 researchers from the University of Georgia estimated that between 4.8 million and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic per year make their way into the oceans via people living within 30 miles of a coast.” By the way, the NRDC is holding a 3-day Earth Day LIVE event from Wednesday, April 22 - Friday, April 24th and it is going to be amazing. Watch it with your children! Participants range from Al Gore and Secretary John Kerry to Rachael Ray, Alyssa Milano, Mark Ruffalo and Chelsea Handler.
At Ahimsa we do our very best to avoid contributing to the pollution of our planet. Stainless steel is the most recycled material in the world. Our coloring process involves zero waste/runoff by the use of a closed-loop system. That process, by the way, is devoid of any harmful chemicals/paints/etc. Any stainless steel product you use consists on average of 60% recycled material according to the British Stainless Steel Association. It uses a very minimal amount of primary energy and produces zero runoff.
This Earth Day we would be remiss if we failed to discuss how we can do our part to clean up the planet long after the world is reopened to business-as-usual (however that may look at different points in the future). Let’s learn all that we can during this pandemic. Read. Share. Look at what we can do by carpooling, biking or walking, buying locally and reducing food waste. We can dramatically improve the quality of Earth. These are very small ways we can make a huge difference to help the environment AND our hearts!
Right now is a perfect time to use these moments with our children to teach them ways they can contribute. Just yesterday I made chocolate chip cookies with my son (in our gloves and masks) to send to the hospital and share with people who are “working hard to keep people safe and healthy.” You should have seen how happy it made him – knowing that what he was doing was helping someone else. It was beautiful.
Also, take time to answer your children’s questions. When they ask you why you put aluminum cans in one bin and banana peels in another, explain to them where that aluminum can goes, the alternative and how recycling helps keep our planet clean. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth explanation. Just enough to give a good idea of the process, but most importantly it plants the seed of sustainability at a young age.
This Earth Day there are so many ways you can contribute to society. We have decided to donate a portion of all proceeds to The Patachou Foundation. It’s a foundation that fights food insecurity by feeding children in underserved communities. As the number of food-insecure children has greatly increased during this time with school closures, limited childcare, layoffs and the disruption of food availability - we are hopeful we can help provide more children with healthy meals. Yes, Earth Day is about saving our planet. We want to save our children by providing them healthy meals while hopefully educating them on how they can give back by taking care of our planet for decades to come.