With everyone staying home more, one of the highlights of quarantine is that daily walk outside. Taking a nice stroll around the neighborhood not only allows you to get some exercise, but also a great way to enjoy nature and get some fresh air. We benefit from nature’s beauty, so why don’t we give back to the environment?
With the pandemic, lots of people are using disposable masks, gloves, and other necessary preventative care that, unfortunately, can’t be reused. They have become a recognizable sign of even how different our litter is during this unconventional time.
Believe it or not, you can actually do something about the rise of “mask trash.” Next time you are on your daily walk, you can help pick up any trash you see along the way, but it’s important to take precautions. Make sure you wear a mask and gloves to protect yourself and others around you, and follow appropriate disinfecting protocols to sanitize anything you touch. This outdoor activity can be done solo or with a partner – grab a friend and go on a socially distanced walk where you can hang out and catch up (6 ft apart), while also helping clean up the earth.
Pick a Place
When picking an area you would like to pick up trash at, there are some things you may want to consider. High traffic areas, like the area around a grocery store, may be a great place to find trash. Look around the parking lot to find receipts, papers, used masks, etc. Make sure to pick them up with caution, don’t touch your face or the outside of your own mask until you are home, rigorously wash your hands when you get home, dispose of PPE in a separate (labeled bag), and keep in mind social distancing requirements while you’re out, especially in high traffic areas.
Another great area to search is trails and parks. With many more people doing outdoor activities and exercises, you can most often find trash in these areas. Go on a hike and bring some tools to help you pick up trash at the same time. If you live near the water, try going to the beach or lake to do some cleanup. With the hot and sunny weather, many people have been hanging out by the water and lots of trash has been left on the sand. Help keep our beaches clean and our sea animals safe. Just don’t forget to wear sunscreen and a hat if you go.
Another super easy and convenient place to go to pick up litter is right in your neighborhood – there’s no need for a car and to drive somewhere. Just take a walk right outside your home and the neighboring streets.
Protect Your Hands
A great way to clean up trash safely is by using a trash grabber/picker, so you do not need to touch the trash directly with your hands. Trash grabbers are super handy as they act as an extension of your hand. It is also better for your back instead of constantly having to bend down. I recommend holding a bag in one hand to collect all the trash in and holding the trash grabber in the other hand. Once you are done filling up the bag, you can toss the bag when you come across the nearest trash can.
If you do not have or want to buy a trash grabber, you can also use gloves. Wearing gloves can help you pick up trash but also protect your hands from any of the contaminants. Pro-tip: Do you have an old pair of dishwashing gloves that you were going to throw out anyway? Now you can repurpose them!
After you have successfully collected trash, make sure to dispose of it in the right area and follow appropriate guidelines. Follow your neighborhood or city guidelines on what can or cannot be recycled, as well as anything that can be composted. Don’t forget to wash your hands with soap and water when you’re done, and enjoy