Is COVID good or bad to our environment?

Tommy Kan
3 min readDec 7, 2020

Although the vaccines are on the horizon as a bright silver lining for the whole world has been going thru this COVID nightware in 2020, the actual cases seems are still going up and many cities across the US are backstepping into the lockdown mode like the bay area I live now is in the so-called Purple tier.

Today I want to look the impact of COVID from the lens of environmental impact.

First, it is very clear that COVID sharply reduced the air pollution esp. caused by gasoline powered vehicles, airplanes since many people stopped daily commuting and instead just WFH. Many world level researches showed clearly COVID *made* the air cleaner because it dropped the air pollution caused by *normal* economic activities at world wide level at the same time for a significant amount of time.

Pre and Post COVID in New Dehli, India. Source:

While, on the other side, COVID made one type of pollution lot worse — Plastic consmption surged all over the world esp. developed countries incl. US since people order many things esp. food online and get it delivered to the home like the boom of Doordash’s biz, and most of the food delivery still using plastic container for delivery.

We all know many plastic products can not be recycled and eventually will get into the oceans all over the world which will affect the whole ecosystems for hundreds or thousands of years.

This really reminds me that the planet we live as our home — the Earth is such a huge and complex system with countless switches and controls, every major world wide human being’s behavioral change will turn on and off multiple switches and no easy ways for us to totally understand whether it will be a net gain or loss.

While at individual level, that does not mean we have nothing to do to make it better or at least slow down negative impact to our mother nature. Specially one thing we can do to is to reduce the consumption of plastic products — I know it will not be popular to whoever are responsible cooking in each family, but still want to say it out loud — Please try to cook more meals at home instead of ordering online.

One ask to food delivery new star like Doordash — please find a way to incentivize the restaurants to use more environmental friendly food containers, how in concrete? I don’t know, while I believe you can!:)

Let us all as a villager of this big village called Earth, be a little bit more responsible for the environment every day!



Tommy Kan

A lifelong learner and explorer! Grew up in Asia, now enjoying the dynamism of Silicon Valley in the sunny California.