Unintentional Grounding 

Mask littering increases at the University of Findlay

By Lauren Wolters 


While the number of masks observed in public decreases, the number of masks littering the University of Findlay campus increases.

Orion Jones, director of UF’s Physical Plant, says that the Physical Plant has been trying to pick masks up whenever they are spotted on the ground. 

“Duty falls 100% on the Physical Plant employees,” Jones said. “When I drive around, I have litter grabbers, and I continue to pick up masks as well as my team.”   

Jones believes that about 75% to 80% of the litter on campus are masks. 

“I have seen a huge increase as of late,” Jones said. “My assessment is that throughout our community masks are not required, so students do not carry their own personal mask anymore like we did last year. This means, when they walk into a classroom, most of them are just grabbing a mask from the table for that class and disposing [of] it after the class is done. This has led to a huge increase in the volume of masks that we have to purchase and dispose of.” 

Students appear to have noticed the increase in mask littering. UF student, Lauren Miley, adds that she has seen a lot more masks on the ground lately. UF student, Leanne Wolters, provides some explanation for why she believes there’s been more mask littering. 

“I think some students are just tired of wearing them,” Wolters said. “And I know a lot of people feel safer with the vaccine and other precautions being taken.” 

Jones believes that it is highly likely that the masks are just falling out of people’s pockets or book bags instead of being intentionally placed on the ground. When students are only required to wear masks on campus, it is much easier for them to be misplaced or forgotten about outdoors. 

Jones and the Physical Plant so far have been unsuccessful in devising ways to resolve the issue of increased mask litter on campus. 

“I take pride in being extremely creative to solve problems and myself, nor anyone on my team has any thoughts our ideas, except reaching out to the student body to not throw their masks on the ground,” Jones said. “But if you have to tell students to not throw trash on the ground then there is a huge disconnect between the patrons on this campus caring about the environment and keeping our campus clean.”  

Jones believes that the issue will be resolved once the mask mandates are fully lifted. Until then the Physical Plant, and the UF community must ensure that masks are disposed of properly. 

“I am very frustrated with the additional volume of masks that are littered throughout our campus on a daily basis,” Jones said. “With everything, I care, and my people care, I just hope our stakeholders care as well and can become more conscious about this ongoing problem.” 


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