NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- People all over our area are using masks and gloves in hopes of flattening the coronavirus curve, but as the world celebrates Earth Day, many are concerned about those items littering our streets.
They've made their way from our faces and hands to the ground.
"Gloves and masks littering parking lots, along the road. It was pretty shocking at first to see all that PPE litter literally all over the place," said Adrienne Esposito, with the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
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Soiled gloves and masks are being left behind for someone else to clean up, and it has leaders like Esposito stepping up to change things.
"We've been doing actually already some early public education on the proper disposal, particularly of the gloves, which is what we see most frequently in the parking lots. We're asking grocery stores to put out extra garbage pails so people can go out and just throw the gloves in the garbage pail before they get into the car," Esposito told CBS2's Charlie Cooper.
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The NYPD and the Department of Sanitation have social media campaigns addressing the problem, asking residents to dispose of used latex gloves and masks in a securely tied trash bag as you would any other garbage.
Improper disposal of PPE litter could mean potentially spreading the virus if masks and gloves are contaminated.
Esposito says they also wreak havoc in the environment.
"If it's not cleaned up, those gloves and masks usually end up somewhere in either our marine environment, which means they're killing marine life. They're also clogging storm drains, which means they contribute to localized flooding," she said.
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Esposito says an alternative to throwing out used gloves is sanitizing and reusing them.
"Have a bottle of hand sanitizer in the car, so when they get in the car, they use them on the gloves. Just in the same way you would wash your hands, you can wash the gloves," she said. "Long after we win this battle on COVID, we're gonna have to win the battle to protect the earth, so we need to do both simultaneously."
Littering right now is not only dangerous but expensive. If caught, it could lead to a $100 summons.
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