E-commerce, takeout, and the environment during the pandemic

Food critic Tom Sietsema says that for three weeks, he saved every chopstick, container, paper napkin, and packaging scrap that came with his takeout. Photo by Pxfuel

Many physical stores are closed during the pandemic, and people are generally avoiding contact with others. That means more online shopping — and more packaging. Boma Brown West of the Environmental Defense Fund says now is an opportunity for online retailers to be more transparent about how their products are made. 

Also, takeout orders are up for restaurants, which leads to an excess of plastic containers at home. Food critic Tom Sietsema ordered takeout for about 10 meals per week, and he saved all the packaging for three weeks. He says it filled two recycling bins that could hold up to 100 gallons. Shocked, he found strategies for reducing his food packaging footprint.