The Effects of COVID-19 on the Environment


By Juliana Lee, Sophomore Editor

COVID-19 is taking the world by storm, disrupting everyone’s daily lives and creating chaos. Despite the virus affecting almost every aspect of people’s lives, its unprecedented effect on the environment seems to be beneficial and positive.

Air pollution has gone down significantly due to the reduction of commercial air traveling and commuting to work. Shutdowns of huge factories and industries have also contributed to the decrease of CO2 and nitrogen in the air. And even from space, these changes are visible in the atmosphere.

At first glance, these environmental effects may seem to be the silver lining amidst the disorder that is happening, but unfortunately, that is not the case. These changes are only temporary and once the pandemic has subsided, people will gradually go back into their old habits and drive and fly again frequently.

UN news explains that “Any positive environmental impact in the wake of this abhorrent pandemic, must therefore be in our changing our production and consumption habits towards cleaner and greener. Because only long-term systemic shifts will change the trajectory of CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

In other words, a pandemic will not solve the climate crisis: only humanity has the power to prevent it.

Furthermore, because everyone is forced to be inside 24/7, more take-out and meals are ordered which create immense waste from single-use utensils and packaging. And to stop the spread of germs, many businesses are urging or switching to use single-use packaging.

For example, Starbucks announced in March that they will no longer be accepting reusable cups until the COVID-19 pandemic settles down. However, scientific research disagrees with this plan of action because disposable plastic can still harbor viruses and bacteria.  In addition to daily waste, medical waste has gone up increasingly as hospitals create large amounts of trash every day. The waste hospitals produce cannot be helped, but the people who are stuck in their homes should be more conscious about how regularly they order delivery and be aware of how much single-use plastic they utilize.

Katy Gorden, a sophomore at Hills, thinks ” [t]hat’s so interesting that throughout this pandemic there seems to be a very important environmental impact that we need to focus in on to improve the planet.”

To read more about the effects of COVID-19 on the environment, click on the links below: