Growing problem: face mask litter

News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — One man has had enough when it comes to litter, and this time there’s an added problem: face masks.

Stanford Blount finds them on his regular walks around Glenn Park. “I walk to this park everyday to meditate by the waterfall,” he said. But these days he’s doing a little something extra. “Mattis alone, I think I picked up at least 5-10,” said Blount. “The first time I saw one when I was walking here, I was astonished, shocked, and ashamed of people.”

Blount has even started carrying a bag around with him to pick up what he finds. While he’s recently frustrated with finding masks, he says the problem is much bigger. He finds a lot of trash in the pond at the park.

“I find trash around here every day. Beer bottles that are thrown in there. There’s trash bags thrown in there. They can really endanger the crows, the green herons that come in here, the fish that can eat it. The dogs that come in here and can get tangled in their intestines if they eat it,” said Blount.

University of Illinois veterinarians say that’s a serious threat. “I can imagine a bird – their feet tangles up in the strings of these things,” said veterinarian Ashley Mitek. “Face masks definitely have a huge potential if swallowed, eaten by dogs cats or other pets to cause an obstruction and that can life-threatening.”

That’s basically what happens when your body can’t digest something. That can cause serious pain or even a burst intestine. Whether it’s to keep our public spaces looking their best or for saving wildlife, Blount said the solution is as simple as finding the nearest trash can.

“We don’t wanna destroy this planet. There’s no backup; there’s no planet B. So we gotta do what we can to protect it,” said Blount.

Two important things to remember: When you’re done using your mask, make sure it’s in a trash can where it can’t blow away. And if you can, get a re-usable one.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.