From California to Maine, shoppers are noticing something new in store parking lots: disposable gloves, face masks, and disinfectant wipes left behind in grocery carts or thrown carelessly on the ground. While littering isn't a new phenomenon, the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak has more people using protective gear when out in public. As a result, those working during the pandemic are urging shoppers to not leave used gloves and wipes in grocery carts or strewn about store parking lots.
"I am asking the public please," Facebook user Trish Phillips recently wrote in a post identifying herself as a grocery store clerk. "People are leaving their gloves and wipes in their shopping carts and in the parking lots. Please, can you dispose of them yourself? Please protect us. We all need to chip in and help those who work on the front line."
Unfortunately, this clerk wasn't the only person to notice that used disinfectant wipes, face masks, and disposable gloves weren't being properly thrown away. Facebook and Twitter are ripe with posts highlighting the growing problem, like this tweet from a shopper who spotted other customers littering gloves and face masks near a Costco cart return. Or this tweet from someone who found used gloves tucked inside what appears to be a Target cart.
"Please stop leaving your gloves in the carts," another Twitter user wrote along side a picture of two used gloves sitting in a grocery cart. "These employees (like my father) are already working their a**es off and risking it all to keep their grocery stores open and stocked to serve YOU. The least you can do is throw your gloves away. It's selfish and unsanitary."
Local media stations and news outlets have also highlighted the problem. In Roseville, California, cameras from local CBS News affiliate CBS13 captured a woman taking off a pair of protective gloves after shopping and throwing them inside the cart she'd used. A radio DJ from WCYY reported seeing something similar when out shopping in Westbrook, Maine.
In fact, reports of improperly disposed of gloves, wipes, and face masks have spurred city officials and municipal sanitation agencies to issue pleas of their own. "Need to dispose of gloves and masks? DON'T THROW THEM IN THE STREET, please," New York City Sanitation urged residents in a recent tweet.
In Pennsylvania, Bensalem Township placed additional trash bins throughout shopping center parking lots, urging residents to "take advantage of these bins and avoid discarding [gloves and wipes] irresponsibly."
To properly remove and dispose of dirty or used gloves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends grabbing the outside of one glove at the wrist without touching your gloved fingers to your skin. Carefully peel the glove from your hand, pulling it inside out as you do so. Holding the removed glove in your other, still gloved, hand, slide your ungloved fingers inside the glove and use them to push the glove inside out off your hands and around the first glove. Dispose of the gloves safely in a trash receptacle and then immediately wash your hands.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.