One unforeseen side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bayonne is the garbage pile-up occurring on the streets. Trash has been accumulating in some areas due to the suspension of alternate side parking regulations for street sweeping.
In addition, used gloves, masks and other masks are littering the streets across the city. City officials have asked residents to stop this a number of times to no avail, resulting in the Office of Emergency Management releasing a PSA to all residents to pleading for the littering to stop.
While part of the problem might have normally been relieved by the annual Earth Day cleanup, the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. Mayor James Davis announced a fully realized solution to the problem on April 20: an at-home Earth Day cleanup on April 25.
“Earlier this year, we had big plans for a citywide Earth Day clean-up that would have involved groups of people working together, followed by a major celebration,” Davis said. “Due to the Coronavirus, those plans had to be cancelled.”
Davis believed the city could still honor Earth Day without the large, group-oriented clean-up and subsequent celebration.
And Bayonne did just that. Gathering in small groups, mostly consisting of children most likely eager to get out of the house, residents rallied to clean garbage and trash littering the city.
Participants were asked to put on a face mask and gloves, step outside, and clean up around their own home or business.
“Let’s try to keep at least the front of our properties tidy,” Davis advised. “This can make a big difference for our neighborhoods.”
Guidelines for a safe clean-up
While the goal was cleaning up the city, social distancing and other factors were kept in mind.
Residents were advised to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people during the at-home cleanup. Mayor Davis said that if you are also able to clean up in front of an elderly or handicapped neighbor’s home, that would be a great step for Bayonne unity.
“We need to clean up the community,” Davis urged. “Since we have cancelled mechanical street-sweeping during the Coronavirus emergency, litter has piled up on streets that are normally cleaned.”
Litter has also accumulated on side streets and other roads that are not part of the mechanical street-sweeping program. Mayor Davis highlighted the importance of wearing proper protection when participating in the cleanup.
“When you clean up around your property, please pick up litter with shovels, tongs, or other tools while wearing gloves and a face mask,” Davis said.
Residents were advised to place paper and cardboard refuse in the container used for the paper and cardboard recycling pick-up. Cans, bottles, and similar items with recycling numbers on them should be placed in the container used for the cans and bottles recycling pick-up. Food waste and other garbage should be deposited in the plastic bags and barrels normally used for non-recyclable refuse.
Residents asked to clean used masks and gloves
On top of cleaning general garbage that has accumulated on the streets, residents were also advised to pick up improperly disposed of medical waste with the proper tools only.
“If you find discarded rubber gloves, please do not touch them with your bare hands,” Davis said. “Instead, use tongs or other tools to pick up the gloves before depositing them in a plastic garbage bag.”
Mayor Davis reminded Bayonne residents that the city has not used mechanical sweepers in several weeks.
“It would be great if you could clean up the part of your street that is right below the curb,” Davis said.
Residents who took part in the cleanup were asked to email photos of clean-up activities to email@example.com. The city welcomed the pictures of both the cleaning and the results and posted the pictures on Facebook, celebrating the much-needed clean-up’s success.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.