Traditional spring roadside cleanup won't be stopped by COVID-19

When the pandemic first hit the province the P.E.I. Women’s Institute considered cancelling its annual roadside cleanup — but with the province entering its second phase of easing back COVD-19 restrictions, people will be out picking up trash soon.

'What a way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air'

The P.E.I. Women's Institute roadside cleanup will go ahead this weekend, but there won't be a cash prize up for grabs this year. (Submitted by P.E.I. Women's Institute)

The P.E.I. Women's Institute considered cancelling its annual roadside cleanup when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the province — but with P.E.I. entering its second phase of easing restrictions Friday, people will be out picking up trash soon.

Sheila MacLean, a board director with the institute, said the event's date was moved back so it would fall when restrictions were less strict.

"With the lack of cases … we felt we could go forward this weekend," she said.

However, with some COVID-19 restrictions still in place, the cleanup will look a little different than in past years.

"Our Women's Institute bags are not going to be available for the public to use," MacLean said.

If people participate all along the roadway we can have a very beautiful clean roadside in no time flat.— Sheila MacLean, P.E.I. Women's Institute

The locations where the institute-branded bags are usually picked up have been shut down since March. While some are reopening, MacLean said her group didn't want Islanders flocking to those organizations all at once.

MacLean said people are asked to put garbage in clear plastic bags typically used for waste.

No contest 

Usually there is a participation contest with a cash prize attached, but because of the pandemic that won't be happening this year.

"That requires organizational group cleaning and as a result of the health directive around social distancing we didn't want to promote social gathering, so we don't have a contest running this year," MacLean said.

'What a way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air ... and do some good,' says Sheila MacLean with the PEIWI. (Lisa MacLean/LDM Photography)

Posters for the event remind participants to practise physical distancing and follow the guidelines of the Chief Public Health Office.

"We encourage them to use gloves when they are picking up the garbage," MacLean said.

MacLean said anyone can participate in the roadside cleanup and there is no registration required.

"They just basically take a garbage bag, go along the sides of the road," MacLean said.

"Fill your garbage bag, tie and leave it on the roadside, and we do have arrangements made for pickup."

She said any large items that won't fit in a garbage bag should be left at the roadside.

MacLean said people don't need to travel all over the province to help out. They can simply go a kilometre up either side of the road from where they live.

"If people participate all along the roadway we can have a very beautiful clean roadside in no time flat," she said.

MacLean has been participating in the event for the last 17 years and said some people will spend the whole day picking up garbage.

"What a way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air and have a little family time together, and do some good," she said.

Too much trash

However, MacLean said she is disappointed with how much garbage is collected each year.

"Please take pride in our province, and do not litter," MacLean said.

All the bags must be placed along the road by Monday, May 25 for collection, she said.

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  • In a previous version of this story, the spokesperson for the Women's Institute said white garbage bags could be used. The institute has since clarified that only clear bags can be used.
    May 21, 2020 1:38 PM AT


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