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Sustainability Tip: Step back and examine how you support sustainability

By Kate Manzer
Special to the Daily
Research has indicated that the death toll from COVID-19 has had a negative impact on global air quality.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

When the entire valley started quarantining, our economic and social systems were almost entirely eliminated from the equation. Considering poor air quality has recently been connected to a significant increase in the COVID-19 death rate, improving environmental conditions in Eagle County is just as vital as stabilizing our economic and social systems.

According to the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the rate of COVID-19 deaths increases 15% with each additional microgram per cubic meter of particulate matter. Vail’s air is made up of 18.7 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5, among other components. 

Prior to the pandemic, individuals’ voluntary behavioral changes were not considered a notable climate action strategy, since the result of these would ultimately not garner enough impact on a large enough scale.

After experiencing the uncertainty and anxiety of the pandemic, researchers now predict – including the Director of the CoolClimate Network at the University of California Berkeley – that our collective experience will motivate more people to make more sustainable life choices and decisions. Researchers believe that since no one could escape this crisis, there’s a special time-sensitive opportunity to propel the public toward action on climate change. Public engagement on climate action through making sustainable behavior changes has the potential to have enough impact to achieve our greater climate action goals, like reducing air pollution, for example.

Given this research and all the time on our hands, now is a perfect opportunity to pause and ask: “how have I used this time as an opportunity to learn, to inform meaningful and necessary change, and to continue to improve?” 

  • How have you utilized the COVID-19 pandemic Stay-at-Home and Safer-at-Home orders as opportunities to learn more about sustainability? Uniquely available free of charge during this time, there are hundreds of very informative webinars available from many different entities and organizations. Try tuning into The University of California, Berkeley’s webinar, Climate Change in the Time of Coronavirus. This webinar explores how COVID is affecting our climate, lessons for climate from COVID, and opportunities for climate action in the wake of this global pandemic.
  • How have you used this time as an opportunity to inform meaningful and necessary change? Need ideas for home? Check out the seemingly endless list of sustainability guides from Natural Resource Defense Council at NRDC.org/work. Need ideas for business? Check out Social Venture Circle’s webinar, Business Survival Tactics During Coronavirus, on business survival tactics during coronavirus. Visit bit.ly/COVID19BizSurvival for a recording of the webinar.   
  • How have you used this time as an opportunity to continue to improve? Continue improving by volunteering with the U.S. Forest Service in Minturn. Please contact Michelle Wolffe, Adopt-A-Trail coordinator at adoptatrail@vvmta.org, if you are interested in becoming a Wildlife Trail Ambassador. Continue improving by volunteering with The Community Market in Gypsum. Please reach out through their website at http://www.eaglevalleycf.org/the-community-market/.

Kate Manzer is the Actively Green Coordinator at Walking Mountains Science Center. For more ideas on how to support businesses in the valley, email Kate at green@walkingmountains.org.


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