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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates and Guidance

The County is taking a number of actions to keep residents safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Find status information for County operations and services.

The Resource

Keyword: litter

By Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Department of Public Works

Photo of face masks hanging

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has changed life as we know it, but we can still find ways to live more sustainably during these difficult times. The Resource will publish a series of articles this summer focused on helping you do just that. This month we want to talk about some of the single-use items commonly used during the pandemic and suggest some safe alternatives.

Masks

  • Wearing a mask outside of your home helps protect others and prevent the spread of COVID-19. You can reduce waste by choosing reusable (washable) cloth masks over disposable ones. A wide variety of reusable masks are available online, or you may know someone who makes them. You can even make your own mask using leftover fabric or repurposed clothing or linens. Wherever you get your mask, make sure you follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • If you need to wear a disposable mask, put it in the trash after use. Disposable masks do not belong in the recycling, down the toilet or on the ground.

Gloves

Photo of someone scrubbing a counter while wearing gloves
  • According to the CDC, you should wear reusable or disposable gloves for routine cleaning and disinfection. If you choose reusable, the CDC states that those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and nothing else. The CDC also recommends wearing disposable gloves when you are caring for someone who is sick or cleaning a home where someone is sick. Otherwise, wearing gloves is not necessary in most situations. Instead, practice frequent handwashing, social distancing and other everyday preventive actions recommended by the CDC.

  • Put disposable gloves in the trash, not the recycling. Don’t flush or litter your gloves, either. Help us get the message out by sharing our Facebook post about the increase of litter related to the pandemic.

Wipes

  • The use of disposable wipes is on the rise. Remember: Wipes clog pipes and can cause sewage backups and overflows. Do not flush any kind of wipe or towelette, even the ones that are labeled as, “flushable.” Do not litter or try to recycle wipes. Place used wipes in a trash can. Help spread the word about wipes by sharing our social media graphic.

  • You can reduce “wipe waste” by cleaning or disinfecting your home with an EPA-registered disinfectant and reusable, washable cloths instead of disposable wipes.

  • Clean your face with soap and water using a washcloth or your hands instead of facial wipes.

  • Use good old fashioned toilet paper instead of wipes labeled, “flushable.” Keep germs inside your toilet by putting down the lid before you flush!

  • Did I already say not to flush wipes? I did? Okay, good; because it’s really important that you don’t. Here’s why.

Shopping Bags

  • Use washable (reusable) shopping bags if permitted by the store. Make sure to check with the store first. Washable shopping bags can be found online, or you can make your own with materials you may have around the house. If you are able to use reusable bags at your local store, don’t forget to wash your bags following the CDC guidelines for washing clothing, linens and other laundered items.

  • Some grocery stores and retailers have temporarily ceased recycling plastic bags. If you wish to drop off your plastic shopping bags for recycling, your best course of action is to 1) enter your address in the recycle search tool at abagslife.com or plasticfilmrecycling.org to find a drop-off location at a retailer near you and 2) call that location first to confirm that they are currently accepting plastic bags for recycling.

Other single-use items you can try to avoid include individually wrapped snacks, single serving beverages and disposable kitchenware, tableware, towels and napkins.

We hope these tips will help you safely reduce your use of single-use items during the coronavirus pandemic and keep you on track in your efforts to make ours a cleaner, greener Baltimore County. Be sure to keep an eye out for next month's installment of our Staying Green During COVID-19 series, which will more broadly address trash, recycling, litter and waste prevention.

By Anne Marshall, Department of Public Works

Before and after photo of a county facility cleaning crew cleaning effort

If you live in Baltimore County, there’s a good chance you have encountered at least one Bureau of Solid Waste Management employee. Whether they are a customer service representative addressing questions via phone and email, an attendant staffing one of the County’s three drop-off centers or an outreach specialist presenting to school students and community groups, members of the Bureau frequently interact with the public as they strive to keep the trash and recycling program running smoothly each day.

However, some Bureau staff carry out important work that isn’t so squarely in the public eye, making a difference behind the scenes in the County. One such group is the County Facility Collection Crew (CFC), who help to ensure that county parks and open spaces are kept “clean and green” for residents to enjoy.

Comprised of 16 employees and two crew chiefs, the CFC is responsible for collecting trash from 422 county parks and local open spaces. This includes the emptying of nearly 2,500 green 55 gallon drums and 125 dumpsters each week, as well as the regular maintenance of these containers. The CFC also handles the removal of items that have (unfortunately) been left in parks and on county property illegally, from “everyday litter” to larger dumped items including tires, mattresses and furniture. Finally, in addition to keeping parks and open spaces clean, the CFC provides assistance to haulers on residential trash and recycling collection routes during times when extra help is needed.

Photo of a CFC truck

With so many parks to keep clean, is there anything residents can do to help? Tim Dunn, Baltimore County’s solid waste operations manager, has some suggestions. “By making sure trash is disposed of properly in barrels, individuals can help reduce the need for litter picking. It’s also important to not use county parks as dump sites; take those bulk items to an appropriate facility for donation, recycling or disposal.”

By working together, responsible residents and the CFC can make sure these public spaces in the County remain clean and safe for everyone. For a listing of major county parks and other facilities, visit the Recreation and Parks Directory online.

By Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Department of Public Works

Photo of the earth from space

April is Earth Month, and it’s the perfect time to step up your clean, green game. From stream cleanups and Earth Day events to home energy and waste audits, there are lots of ways to celebrate our planet this month.

Attend an Event

Events are happening all month long. Get out and celebrate Earth!

Saturday, April 6 

Sunday, April 7

April 11 to 14

Saturday, April 13  

April 13, 19 and 27

Sunday, April 14

Monday, April 15 

Tuesday, April 16

April 16 and 17

  • Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability's Earth Month in the Parks events, April 16 at Northwest Regional Park and April 17 at Honeygo Regional Park 

Wednesday, April 17

Friday, April 19

Saturday, April 20 

Saturday, April 27

For a more extensive listing of cleanups and other events, see the Clean Green Baltimore County Facebook Events Calendar.

Take Action at Home

Get involved in Earth Month at home by conducting home energy and waste audits, planting trees in your yard, doing a Clean Green 15 litter pickup in your neighborhood, learning to recycle better, switching to renewable energy and more. Visit the Clean Green Baltimore County page on the County’s website for information about county programs and resources to help you reduce your environmental impact, as well as details on volunteer opportunities and upcoming green events. Follow @CleanGreenBaltCo on Facebook for daily tips and information on sustainable living.

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Revised October 25, 2019