Courtesy Photo

Kelsey Smith
Stewardship and Outreach Assistant

FINCH – Litter can have a detrimental impact to humans, wildlife, and the environment, and can eventually end up contaminating local water sources, soil and pollute the air. And, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the COVID-19 pandemic has Canadians using more single use plastics than ever before.

With the last bit of snow finally gone, a winter’s worth of garbage accumulation and litter is now revealed and ready to be picked up.

This is the time of year when South Nation Conservation (SNC) would be mobilizing community volunteers to help clean up trash in public spaces and along waterways.

But, with the COVID-19 Emergency Stay-at-Home Orders in place, annual river cleanups and SNC’s popular Cache In Trash Out event are again cancelled for 2021.

Instead, SNC is hoping to mobilize residents venturing outdoors for recreation and mental health to consider bringing along gloves and a garbage bag to pick up trash and join this year’s efforts to keep our communities’ litter-free leading up to the Provincial Day of Action on Litter on May 11 “Social gatherings may be on pause but doing our individual part to keep our communities clean doesn’t have to be,” says John Mesman, SNC’s outreach lead.

Residents can submit before and after photos of their cleanup areas to SNC through social media or by emailing for a chance to win a prize of local products.

When picking up litter, always use personal protective equipment including gloves or a litter grabber. Always separate recycling from garbage.

Community groups and residents are encouraged to reach out to SNC to borrow supplies if needed, including litter grabbers, safety vests, disposable gloves, and garbage bags.

Also, be mindful around watercourses as slopes could be unstable or slippery. Consider wearing a safety vest or brightly coloured clothing if collecting litter along a roadway. And never pick up dangerous materials such as shards of glass, syringes, barbed wire, or chemical waste (instead please contact your municipality).

Residents without a personal method of garbage or recycling disposal can reach out to their municipality for information on public garbage disposal, such as using a city street garbage can and recycling bin.

Please follow health guidelines, work only with your household bubble, and exercise physical distancing with those you may pass.

“And of course, have fun! Getting outside and safely cleaning up your own backyards and neighbourhoods can be a great learning experience for the whole family,” adds Mesman.

For more information on how to safely cleanup litter during the pandemic, the Government of Ontario provides various litter cleanup resources and guides online at