Join the movement on World/National Clean-up Day and show us your #TrashTag!

September 19 is World/National Clean-up Day. Join the movement and show us your #TrashTag!

By Michelle Foss, Director of Land Stewardship and Research

The first line on the National Clean-up Day website is “. . . What would happen if everyone picked up at least one piece of litter on National Clean Up Day?” So, what WOULD happen?! Answer: A lot of litter would be picked up, and, hopefully, placed in the appropriate place.

Due to the pandemic, more people are going outside, and moving normal daily activities outside. While overall pollution is down up to 30% globally according to a short communication in Science of the Total Environment* litter seems to be up, especially in our parks and natural areas. I have found (and picked up) countless masks, just in our parking lots over the past six months. And water bottles, snack packaging, a shoe (yes, really) and even diapers. Ew.

How do we fix it? First, don’t litter.

I truly believe some of the litter is accidental. A wrapper being placed in a pocket for later disposal gets dropped, or a small child drops something off the boardwalk, or the wind randomly picked up and grabbed trash (it IS Nebraska!). But there are also times where someone thinks, “Oh, it’s just one – it’s fine,” or “There’s a clean-up day coming. This way people have something to pick up.” I would love nothing more than to NOT have to pick up litter on a clean-up day. THAT would be something to celebrate.

Second, pick up what you see.

When I’m out and about with my kids, or Scouts, I have a trash pocket. We’ll pick up trash we find and dispose of it. I have several pairs of gloves in my backpack for that reason, and sanitizer.

Third, don’t just throw it away! If it can be recycled, recycle it.

Fourth, do it safely.

There are biohazardous items out there, so be mindful of the personal protective equipment necessary for a clean-up. Gloves, sanitizer, heavy-duty bags, and grabbers if possible. Make sure you are protecting yourself while helping out Mother Nature.

How will you celebrate World/National Clean-up Day? Post your photos and tag @fontenelleforest and #trashtag.

Maybe take a neighborhood walk to pick up litter, or a trip to a park, or even the grocery store parking lot for a few minutes after picking up groceries! Where people are, trash often follows. So join us and check out both nationalcleanupday.org and worldcleanupday.us to see where other people are cleaning up, and to register your efforts! Join with people all around the globe to make our world a better place, one piece of trash at a time.

* Science of the Total Environment https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138820

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