A pair of blue gloves on the ground next to a fence.

Another Negative Impact from COVID-19


Do you ever wonder where your trash goes when you throw it out? The short answer is, it really depends on where you throw it. As we approach Earth Day 2020 there is a growing issue with one particular type of trash: Gloves.

Yes, gloves. Simple, common, and suddenly important disposable gloves. Gloves are being used by many people at the moment to protect against COVID-19. While proper use can be very effective in keeping yourself safe and preventing cross contamination, proper disposal is equally important.

There are a growing number of people who, upon finishing their errands, remove their gloves and throw them on the ground. Currently, sidewalks, parking lots and even some green spaces are littered with them.  But where will they go? Here’s a hint- they don’t disappear.  

Those gloves thrown on the ground will be washed into a sewer which will bring them to a local waterway—or they might blow directly into a waterway or green space. The result of this is a disastrous effect on the ecosystem.

Plastic, single use plastic especially, makes up the bulk of trash found along waterways. Its long life ensures that long after other types of trash have decomposed, plastic items, such as bags, bottles, or gloves, will still be around. Along Tibbetts Brook in Van Cortlandt Park trash that washes down from upstream, or is thrown from cars driving along the highway ends up in the wetlands. There it collects and becomes a hindrance to wildlife, and an eyesore to humans.

When the pandemic finally passes and the VCPA staff, interns and volunteers get back into the field, it would be terrible to see floating gloves in the lake. They will slowly sink and sit on the lake bottom for decades, only to be brought up by an unlucky fisherman or an unsuspecting student on a trip trying to learn about nature.

We would also like to take this opportunity to let everyone know that NYC Parks is doing the best job possible to maintain Van Cortlandt Park and other NYC parks under difficult circumstances. Like other agencies, they are seeing a decrease in staff that can work out in the park without putting themselves and others at risk. Given this, we would like to ask anyone who is taking advantage of our 1,146 acres to get some fresh air, while practicing social distancing, to also consider wearing gloves and bringing a garbage bag to help clean up the park as you hike. We would truly appreciate your help. At the end of your walk, please use our garbage receptacles to disposal of your gloves and collected trash. Thank you.

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