HARRIS COUNTY - You see used masks, gloves, and wipes littering parking lots and sidewalks everywhere. It's not just trash, it's a health hazard. But if you put on a glove and help put the litter in the trash, a Chicago company will donate new masks to charities.
It's everywhere. Used masks, gloves, and wipes scattered on the ground.
"Big time. The argument could be made that it's actually medical waste right, because it's COVID protection, it's virus protection," said Leo Friedman, CEO of iPromo.
Friedman started counting the average number of PPE litter he saw on street blocks.
"It came out to about 4.5 pieces" per block, he said.
The final straw was that his puppy Ari started picking it up in his mouth.
"If he sees anything, he will," said Friedman, showing us the puppy over a Zoom call. "This is little Ari. He will pick up the gloves for you, but he won't let go."
When business selling branded gifts slowed for his company iPromo during the pandemic, Friedman says they shifted to supplying PPE to hospitals and businesses. Then he got an idea.
"As part of our giving back, we said for every five pieces, anyone in the United States, for every five pieces you pick up of litter, we're going to donate a mask to a needy charity," he explained.
All you people have to do is go to www.iPromo.com, enter their information, and how many pieces of PPE they've picked up off the ground. They can even submit photos or videos that iPromo will post on social media.
For every five pieces picked up, Friedman says they'll donate a mask to charities, including Unicef, Feeding America, and No Kid Hungry.
"Now we're committed to donating 250,000 masks. If you do the math, 250,000 times five. We're committed to getting one million masks and gloves off the streets," Friedman said.
The PPE litter problem is getting national attention. Superstars like Matthew McConaughey and George Strait just recorded public service announcements with the Texas Department of Transportation with the anti-littering message, "Don't Mess with Texas."
We asked Friedman what he thinks about celebrities joining the call for clean-up.
"Give me a call, let's partner on this!" he said.
To protect your health, be sure to wear gloves when handling discarded PPE.
You can also help reduce litter by wearing washable masks that are not thrown away.