Intive Blog

Remote Work and Environmental Care

Apparently, the preventive measures taken all over the world to stop the spread of the pandemic have had a very positive impact. It could be said that the lockdown and the environment are good friends.

In China, with a global pollution rate of, generally, 6%, the emissions of nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide have decreased 25%. These harmful air pollutants are produced by vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities. Because they cause the greenhouse effect, they harm the ozone layer.

In Italy, another country which was severely affected by the pandemic, the nitrogen dioxide emissions went down 10% per week. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that the Venice channels are looking cleaner than ever and that certain animals that hid in the presence of humans started appearing, such as fish, swans, jellyfish and dolphins.

In Argentina, certain gases, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide decreased 50%. This was mostly due to the reduction in the use of vehicles. This is one of the pros of remote working, which had a lot to do in this victory against pollution.

3 Negative Aspects of the Pandemic on the Environment

Even though the lockdown brought about positive changes for the environment, all that glitters is not gold: the disease also caused other changes that had and will have a very negative impact on the planet.

  • More single-use plastics waste

The use of single-use plastics has rocketed, due to fear of getting the disease, information overload and, mostly, because of precautions taken by health professionals. One example are disposable masks and gloves.

  • Rebound effect

Another consequence of this “fake pause” is the mistaken idea that the air is now clean and that pollution decreased dramatically. In fact, the lower movement of people brought about changes that might NOT be long-term. What’s more, it’s believed that the economic reactivation and the opening of certain industries (especially, cattle) will create a “rebound effect”, which means that everything we achieved in terms of pollutant reduction will be undone too quickly.

  • Fewer opportunities to recycle

Due to the pandemic, we also suffer the lack of recyclables pickup. Together with the fact that many of the recycling centers are now closed, this had a negative impact on people who didn’t recycle much or who didn’t have the habit of recycling, since they don’t feel eager to do it without these facilities being open.

It’s also worth mentioning that, even though we know that the pause on certain human activities will have a short-term effect, in many cases, this pause will also serve as encouragement to change habits in the future. Climate change can have similar consequences as coronavirus (or even worse) but, luckily, people are more and more aware of that. In the meantime, what can we do to reduce power and plastic consumption at home?

3 Good Practices to Reduce Pollution at Home

A good way to take care of the environment is the 3 R’s formula: REDUCE – REUSE – RECYCLE. But we should always bear in mind that the best waste is the one we DON’T CREATE.

Now, what practices are we referring to specifically?

  1. Technology

A good way to start reducing technology pollution is to try to avoid the “phantom load”. In other words, we should try and unplug electric appliances that increase consumption just because they are plugged in (TVs, multiple plug sockets, cellphone chargers and notebooks, coffee machines, microwaves, etc.).

  1. Plastic

When referring to plastic consumption reduction, the task might be a little bit more complex, since most of the things we consume already come with that material. What we might do to help is buy in bulk or buy non-industrialized products. We can also reuse certain items, such as bottles, bowls, etc., in order to reduce consumption and give the recycled object another life cycle. It’s worth mentioning again that, since we’re now at home, we have the opportunity to create new habits for the future.

  1. Recycling

The most important thing when recycling is to make sure the material is clean and dry.
Certain materials such as cardboard, paper, metal, glass and plastic can be recycled.

In the case of glass, it’s important that it’s not broken, not because it can’t be recycled, but because in the recycling plants, the collector reclassifies what we separated and can get hurt when manipulating the glass.

The practices above are just a few we can adopt right away and keep after the lockdown. Our food habits need a separate section.

Cattle and its Environmental Impact

How does meat consumption affect climate change? Which food habits can we develop that might be more environmentally friendly? It’s widely known that the cattle industry is one of the main causes of environmental pollution, because of the gases it emits, the liters of waters used, indiscriminate deforestation, and many more. This doesn’t mean everyone should dramatically change their food habits, but it’s important we know what’s behind so that we can form controlled, responsible consumption habits.

Several studies and reports explain that livestock production is the main activity that uses soil. It’s estimated that 26% of the surface of the planet is used as grass and 33% for grain production to feed different animals. In both cases, this causes deforestation. A study carried out by FAO (an agency of the United Nations that leads the international efforts to stop hunger all throughout the world) stated that cattle raising causes 18% of greenhouse emissions, 9% of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions, 37% of CH4 (methane) emissions, and 65% of N2O (nitrous oxide) emissions; in addition, it produces two thirds of ammonia emissions (a gas that plays a part in creating acid rain).

Besides, the cattle industry uses 8% of the water in the world, an resource that isn’t endless, but more and more limited. It’s estimated that only to produce 1kg of bovine meat, between 15,000 and 20,000 liters of water are needed. This industry also contributes to polluting the limited sources of water in the planet, deteriorating rivers and coastlines. The main cause of this pollution is stool, animal food waste containing antibiotics, heavy metals, hormones, pesticides and fertilizers.

To sum up, the cattle industry has devastating consequences for animal biodiversity. It’s estimated that, in the year 2000, there were around 6,300 detected animal species, and that 2,255 could now run the risk of extinction. Nowadays, in Europe, 55% of mammals and 69% of domestic birds face a vulnerable situation.The main cause of this extinction is the advancement of intensive livestock production, driven by corporate control over animal genetics in the hands of some companies, and the loss of monetary competitiveness of traditional, sustainable and extensive systems of animal production.

FAO report

What if We Make the Most of the Lockdown?

It’s believed that if we carry on consuming plastic the way we do nowadays, in a not-so-distant future, the pollution of the oceans will be such that we won’t be able to take a swim anymore. We can still rectify this situation, and the lockdown pause has been a great help. However, if we don’t acquire new habits, not only will we not undo the impact, but things will get worse much faster than we imagine.

Now we have more time to recycle, rethink about our consumption decisions, and prepare foods we didn’t know before, among other habits we can start developing. What if we start with this change at home?

Agustina Lúquez Iturriaga

Agustina Lúquez Iturriaga is User Experience Designer at intive since november 2019. Graphic Designer graduated in Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE), she has a master degree in research for design and innovation from Escuela Universitaria de Diseño e Ingeniería de Barcelona. Agus’s hobbies are music and drawing: she has sang since  has been singing since he was a girl, and also likes to draw in her free time.

María del Rosario Blanc

Rosario Blanc, a.k.a Chari , is HR Business Partner & IT Recruiter at intive since october 2017. Chari is a psychologist graduated from UADE and has more than 2 years of experience as business partner for employee monitoring.

Chari’s hobbies are doing yoga and training with her dogs, Sherlock and Conan.

Add comment