By Nanci Dixon
The new face of litter is hitting the trails, parking lots and even the prismatic springs at Yellowstone National Park. Face masks, gloves, sanitizer bottles and disinfecting wipes are everywhere.
My husband and I were park hosts in Arizona at a major hiking area and found a lot of masks and wipes littering the ground even before the state mandated them. As we have moved further north we are finding even more litter in parking lots and on sidewalks. More people are wearing face masks now, and more states have mandated them. While sometimes I feel obligated to pick up trash, I draw the line at picking up potentially COVID-19 infested face masks or gloves without my own set of gloves.
Seth, a Facebook user and member of the group RVing During the Pandemic, wrote: “We just got back from an 8,000-mile trip. Most places had around 50% using masks. Some higher, some lower. Of course, most of the masks we saw were left as litter. Such a shame … we counted 4 masks floating in the prismatic springs in Yellowstone. THEY WERE EVERYWHERE”
Lowe’s Home Improvement store parking lots must have been facing the same problem. They have tied disposal buckets to posts in hopes that people will dispose of masks and gloves to keep the area clean and prevent others from getting sick.
Reduce waste and reuse! Buy a reusable face mask here.
With no disposal bucket in sight, I have resorted to picking up litter and placing it on the floor of the back seat. I let gloves, disinfecting wipes and masks incubate for 24 hours and then toss in a garbage can. Soon, we will be returning to Arizona and we will be the ones picking up trash, including discarded face masks, wipes, gloves on the trails, sidewalks and parking lots as part of our volunteer job.
Please look for disposal buckets and trash cans and remember to discard those items properly, and recycle the sanitizer bottles when you can. Thank you for doing your part!