Earth Day 2020: finding the silver linings

Earth Day has always been a special day for Scoop.

The exponential benefit of sustainability is a natural byproduct of shared commutes. Partnering with organizations to help achieve their sustainability initiatives aligns with our Vision to enrich millions of lives by helping employees and employers choose to make the commute a meaningful part of the day.

We’re proud of our Customers and Commuters who share this vision. One trip at a time, our community is removing millions of single occupancy vehicles from the road, preventing millions of pounds of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere, and building countless new connections between co-workers and neighbors along the way.

Nonetheless, this year at Scoop we’re thinking about Earth Day’s 50th anniversary a bit differently—celebrating while the world continues to stay indoors. I know I’m not alone in trying to find silver linings in the difficult times resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. For today, I’m asking that we choose to focus on some of the positives.

Caption: Scoop’s sustainability impact since its beginnings in 2015

Impact of the Global Pause

Today we’re given the chance to reflect on the aggregate impact of our individual choices.

On an individual level, it may not feel like the small choices we make day in and day out create any meaningful difference. During this Global Pause, we as a society are seeing just how much our daily choices add up.

Two trends in particular have my attention:

1. We’re seeing less traffic and road congestion

Across the country, traffic on roads and highways is virtually nonexistent as the coronavirus outbreak forces people to stay at home. According to a recent INRIX study, travel speeds have increased by 77% into Chicago and 53% into Los Angeles.

On these once overly-congested and barely navigable roadways, the decrease in traffic is giving us a glimpse of the future possibilities of what shortened commutes could lead to: more time with family and friends, and more time to focus on our health and well-being.

2. We’re seeing decreased carbon emissions

Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen across continents as countries try to contain the spread of the virus. In fact, coronavirus could trigger the biggest fall in carbon emissions since World War II. The prediction represents a tiny sliver of good news in the midst of crisis, as climate scientists have warned world governments that global emissions must start dropping by 2020 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Recent NASA satellite imaging shows that the northeast region of the United States has experienced a 30% drop in air pollution. During the week of April 6, Los Angeles, a city notorious for smog, had some of the cleanest air of any major city in the world.

Yet experts warn that without long-term change, the decline of CO2 caused by efforts to flatten the curve could be short-lived and have little impact on the concentrations of carbon dioxide that have accumulated in the atmosphere over decades.

Small changes beget significant impact

This Global Pause is changing the way we work, travel, and live our day-to-day lives for the long-term. Between the challenges, we’re seeing some of the positives that can be achieved by making conscious, sustainable choices. What habits and choices do we want to bring with us, as both individuals and employers, once the world unpauses?  

On a personal level, I commit to remembering that my small choices play a part in the larger narrative. Looking forward in partnership with the entire Scoop team and our customers across the country, we’ll continue to work towards a Vision that takes single occupancy vehicles off the road while preserving commuter safety. One trip at a time, little by little.

This Earth Day, let’s celebrate the little victories—the smallest of silver linings—and choose what positive actions we can take so that when we unpause, we return to a more sustainable and connected world.

Rob Sadow

Rob Sadow is Co-Founder and CEO of Scoop. He has spoken on the topics of new and shared mobility in Fortune, Bloomberg, and at industry, academic, and investor conferences across the country. In his spare time, you can find him devouring just about any sport, especially if it’s a team from Atlanta.