Amid a raging pandemic, one that is hitting Black and Brown communities particularly hard, already-vulnerable communities find themselves even more threatened by the possibility of a significant storm hitting Massachusetts. That makes it more imperative than ever that we plan now for the storm season still to come.
Experts are refuting the plastic industry’s claims that reusable bags carry and transmit COVID-19. One public health expert, Dr. Ben Locwin, spoke with CLF about why reusables do not increase the risk of infection, and how washing your reusables with soap or detergent reduces any theoretical risk of transmission.
It will take a suite of strategies to rebound from the COVID-19 crisis, but one that should not be overlooked is the Lake Champlain clean-up effort. The federally mandated work to clean up our iconic waterbody can help fuel Vermont’s recovery from the pandemic – creating a win-win for our environment and economy, both in the short-term and in the future.
Community-Based, Environmental and Civil Rights Activists Across Country Issue Statement and Unified Demands
Amy Laura Cahn, Senior Attorney, Interim Director – Healthy Communities & Environmental Justice, Conservation Law Foundation, said, ““The data is clear: COVID-19 is attacking Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities at astronomical rates. For generations, our legal system has withheld resources and legal protections from these communities while shielding whiter, wealthier areas from environmental harm. Now is the time to create new systems that prioritize the rights, health, and self-determination of those who have been denied these freedoms since before this country’s inception.”
Decades of environmental injustices won’t be addressed without strong legislation to drive change. Local organizations are working to reduce burdens on environmental justice communities, but it’s up to the Massachusetts legislature to redress decades of wrongs and put our state on a path to a more equitable future.
Our recovery from the coronavirus must be more than just a return to the status quo. Along with helping us rebuild our local economies and communities, recovery must also lead to a more resilient, healthier state for all Vermonters.
COVID-19’s unequal impact on our communities has laid bare stark realities about health, wealth, and housing. As our Healthy Neighborhoods Study has shown – and as the map of COVID-19 infections bears out – low-income and people of color face community-level stressors resulting from public health inequities and environmental injustices. These stressors result directly from decades of discriminatory housing policy.
The plastic industry has been trying to take advantage of the pandemic to maximize profits. But fueling fear during a public health crisis is outrageous and must be called out. To truly protect public health and the environment long-term, we need full-scale reuse systems.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities are not doing enough to protect public transit workers or their passengers. Stronger safety measures, including providing personal protective equipment and more frequent service on busy routes, must be implemented immediately – especially with stay-at-home directives beginning to ease.
Even as we mourn the lives lost to COVID-19 and absorb the heavy toll it has taken on our economy, we must recognize that the old “normal” left too many communities unhealthy and especially vulnerable to the pandemic. Replicating that old “normal” will squander an opportunity to reduce climate danger while building healthier and more just communities for all.