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Air, water pollution reduced during COVID-19 pandemic

Air quality has greatly improved as more people stay home and drive less.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As humans socially distance from each other, forego extra driving, and manufacturing decreases, the Earth is healing.

“We’re starting to see a lot of reduction in air pollution and water pollution,” said Bill Wood, the executive director of West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC). "Going along with people staying home.”

Wood said less travelling leads to less fossil fuel being burned and less carbon in the atmosphere.

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However, Wood acknowledges this positive environmental trend does not undervalue the many difficult things people are facing right now.

“You’ve got family members and loved ones who are sick,” said Wood. “The economy is shut down, people are losing jobs, so when we talk about the environmental benefits, so to speak, it’s important to acknowledge there’s a lot of suffering that’s happening.”

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There are a few negative trends though. For one, we’re using a lot of single-use plastics right now, especially paper bags. Many grocery stores have banned using reusable bags to help stop the spread of the virus.

“I have a little bit of fear it’ll take us a while to get back on track on that,” said Wood about getting back to limiting plastic bags once things open back up. "But we have good leadership here regarding sustainability.”

Tonight, Wood said he’s going to be looking to the sky. With cleaner air, and no moon, there’s a great chance to see the Lyrid meteor shower.

“We get a little insight of how quickly the earth can heal,” said Wood. "And that’s not to make light of climate change, what’s happening now will be solved by a generation or two later, but also understanding that we can make some big changes that can really adjust the impact on the earth. I think that’s something that’s really encouraging.”

RELATED: Ways you can celebrate Earth Day 2020 amid coronavirus social distancing

WMEAC is also offering educational materials for students who are learning at home. They are nature-based and geared toward different age groups. You can find more information on the environmental learning calendars here.

WMEAC is also getting ready for it’s annual Blue Tie Ball, this time virtually. It begins Wednesday, April 22, Earth Day, and lasts until April 25. There will be speakers, online auctions, VIP-only drawings and more. The Blue Tie Ball raises money for the groups water education and protection programs.

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