As Earth Day arrives, a quick drive around the Mason City and Clear Lake areas will reveal just how much of a litter problem North Iowa faces.
Everything from plastic sheeting to food containers to a broken flat-screen TV can be found strewn about fields, ditches, and parks. But cold and windy weather might hamper some of the clean-up efforts put forth by those who've signed up to volunteer.
A lone resident, who asked to remain anonymous, was seen working along the bike trail that runs along 19th Street Southwest between Mason City and Clear Lake on Tuesday. The volunteer who is an avid cyclist said he uses that trail regularly and cleans it up regularly as well.
"I bike this trail almost every day, and I'm just disgusted by all the trash here," the man said. "This is my 31st bag (of trash) I've filled up in the last few weeks."
While some Earth Day and Earth Week events have been called off due to COVID, individuals and groups are still encouraged to take part in the cleanup on their own. Mason City's city-wide cleanup continues until May 6, while Clear Lake's continues until April 24.
In 2019, over 500 volunteers spent 1098 collective hours picking up 6,800 pounds of trash in Mason City.
Cleanup participants are encouraged to wear gloves and masks and practice social distancing.