Earth Day: More waste, cleaner air, and other side effects of COVID-19 on Charlotte’s environment

Our executive director, Shannon Binns, was quoted in this article about the effect of COVID-19 on the environment.

By Emma Way, Charlotte Agenda

Charlotte has made notable progress since that first Earth Day, says Shannon Binns, founder and executive director of Sustain Charlotte, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable urban growth.

For one, the air is cleaner. Charlotte has the second-largest tree canopy in the country, which captures carbon dioxide and improves air quality. In the last 50 years, there’s also been an increase in fuel-efficient cars and public transportation options.

Still, cars are ingrained in Charlotte’s culture, much like other Sun Belt cities that boomed after the advent of the automobile and connected neighborhoods with highways instead of sidewalks.

Binns calls the city’s dependency on cars the single biggest hurdle for sustainability.

“There’s high environmental and economic costs to it,” he says, “but it’s such a dominant part of our culture, very few people even question it.”

An unexpected and quite literal bright side to the global pandemic is the sharp decline of cars on the roads, Binns says.

According to a review of air pollution readings by the Observer‘s editorial board, Charlotte has had far better air quality this spring compared with last year.

Fewer tailpipes means clearer air, Binns says.


Read the full article here.

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