How To Fight Coronawashing

“Fife Ethylene Plant” by Richard Webb is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency shocked environmentalists by announcing that companies do not need to meet environmental standards – including monitoring and reporting – during the coronavirus outbreak. This week, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, more than 20 environmental groups petitioned the EPA for more “stringent disclosure,” calling the memo a “license to pollute” and a “clear opportunity for abuse.”

The EPA move is “essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules for the indefinite future,” said former EPA Office of Enforcement head Cynthia Giles, and even more frightening given the fact that air pollution makes people more vulnerable to viruses like COVID-19 because it lowers our ability to fight off infection and may, in fact, help spread it.

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Can You Avoid Plastic Pollution In A Pandemic?

reusable washable shopping bags

Last week, my husband unloaded eight paper shopping bags filled with plastic-wrapped food. After decades working on sustainability – and the last four years focused on single-use plastic, including a TEDx talk last year and another in 2017 – the sight made me physically ill. This is the third week of shelter in place for most of the country, including Los Angeles, where I live. And while most of us spent the time battling alternating bouts of terror and boredom, the plastics industry was in attack mode. As the New York Times described, “The plastic bag industry, battered by a wave of bans nationwide, is using the coronavirus crisis to try to block laws prohibiting single-use plastic.”

Coronawashing. That’s a new one.

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