Have you ever been at a park or beach, and felt like you were surrounded by trash? Even when we properly dispose of our waste, it can end up where it shouldn’t be. Our wrappers and straws can be blown away in the wind, or a trash can could accidentally be tipped over. Even if we weren’t directly responsible for the mess, it’s still our responsibility to keep our environment clean. When you see trash on the ground, do your best to pick it up! Sometimes it’s difficult to pick trash up safely without the right tools, so here are five cleanup kit essentials that you can easily keep ready-to-go in your house or car.
Trash can get pretty dirty, so gloves are always a good idea. They’ll keep your hands clean and safe as you never know what you’re going to find. Gloves can protect your skin from bacteria, needles, sharp edges, and dirt. You can use any type of gloves that you have at home—dishwashing gloves, gardening gloves, fishing gloves, and even old oven mittens are better than nothing!
You’ll also want to keep garbage bags in your kit to collect the trash. You can use any kind of bag that works best for you, even an old rice bag or pillowcase. If you’re going to be cleaning up for a few hours, you might want to have a couple of large trash bags. If you’re just picking up a couple of small pieces of litter while you’re at the beach, a small bag should do the trick. Buckets are also a great idea! You can collect your trash in a bucket, and easily empty it out into the nearest trash can or disposal bin.
Tongs can be used in addition to or in place of gloves. They are especially helpful when you find something that needs to be in the trash, but is too dirty or dangerous to pick up with your hands. You can also use a long litter picker, which would be ideal, but tongs are a cheaper option that you likely already have at home.
A sifter is great if you’re going to be collecting micro plastics or other small pieces of trash at the beach. It can be really difficult to pick out all the pieces of plastic from the sand with just your hands. With a sifter, all you need to do is add some sand from the area you want, shake it, and then you are left with tiny plastics that you can throw away. You can make your own sifter with a wooden frame and a screen, or simply use a colander!
Cleaning the environment is important, but your safety should come first. Whenever you’re finished with your cleanup, wash your hands with antibacterial soap and water. Many beach and park restrooms don’t have soap, so it’s best to bring your own. If there is no water available, be sure that you are carrying some type of hand sanitizer to clean your hands from any dirt and bacteria that you may have come into contact with during your cleanup, then properly wash your hands when possible.