Community Family Health Police

Litter a Growing Problem in Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic

Litter Littering

April is supposed to be the time of year when volunteers from throughout the state take to roadways and parks to clean up litter and help “Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.” This year, however, the cleanups are suspended, and with many people off work and spending time outside litter piles are rapidly growing.

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April is supposed to be the time of year when volunteers take to roadways and parks to help “Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.” This year those cleanups are suspended, and with many people off from work and spending more time outside, litter piles are rapidly growing.

Late last month the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources posted photos of litter in the Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center in Reading on its Facebook page as part of a reminder to park visitors not to litter on state lands.

“As with the large volume of visitors to Pennsylvania state parks last weekend, we saw a large volume of trash, dog waste and graffiti left behind for very small numbers of staff to deal with,” the DCNR post said. “Please be respectful of our natural resources. Whatever food, drinks or dog waste bags you take in with you to a park, please carry out with you when they are trash. Help keep state parks safe, clean, and open.

The DCNR is using the hashtag #LeaveNoTrace to help raise awareness of the issue, which could be exacerbated by an early start to trout fishing season Tuesday that reportedly resulted in large numbers of Pennsylvanians flocking to waterways.

At a Hellertown Borough Council meeting April 6, the issue of dog waste on the Saucon Rail Trail was again highlighted by Mayor David Heintzelman, who earlier this spring said he was upset about the number of people who refuse to clean up after their pets while on walks.

The rail trail–like many parks throughout the area–has been busier than usual thanks to the mild spring weather the area is experiencing and the fact that many people are off from work, as a result of the government-ordered shutdown of non-essential businesses..

Litter in urban areas is a problem as well, particularly when it includes personal protective equipment (PPE) items such as disposable gloves and masks, which could be contaminated by the coronavirus. According to various published reports, there is a growing amount of PPE litter across the country; an unexpected, unintended side effect of a recommendation by the CDC and officials like Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf who’ve urged anyone out in public to wear some type of mask.

Pennsylvania State Police are no longer responding to calls about litter due to their efforts to limit contact with members of the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

Litter Littering

A latex glove discarded on N. Hoffert Street in Fountain Hill is emblematic of a growing problem in Pennsylvania during the COVID-19 outbreak: litter.


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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