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HOUSTON (CW39) – Litter is a challenge for a lot of big cities and Houston is no exception. However, during the pandemic, City of Houston officials say they are seeing an increase in the amount and a change in the type of litter.

You probably have seen face masks, gloves and wipes thrown out in shopping center parking lots or around your neighborhood. The city has now launched an anti-litter campaign encouraging Houstonians to properly get rid of PPE.

Vice Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Castex-Tatum is heading up the campaign and explains not only is this extra litter bad for our environment, but its also costing the city more money to keep our 380 parks clean.

“The parks department is spending lots more time which in turn will cost us more money to pick up the trash around our parks, making sure that our esplanades, and our bus stops and our city right of ways are free from this potentially contaminated debris,” said Castex-Tatum.

Litter also not good for our city’s drainage system and can contribute to flooding.

“I’m sure you’ve seen it on some of the parking lots where the water should be draining but its not because of the plastic gloves and face masks and the paper bags, plastic bags. They have a larger surface area and when they flow in just right, they create the perfect impermeable surface and that creates a problem, explained Harry Hayes, the Director of Houston’s Solid Waste Management
Department.

Hayes went on to explain that a lot of this PPE has a very slow breakdown process, as in hundreds of not if not thousands of years.