Outdoor sports including hiking have become increasingly popular over the last several years thanks to Instagram making "gram worthy" spots more easily accessible to those who are otherwise not the outdoorsy type. Enter COVID-19 and you have more people outside than ever and most importantly, people who do not abide by the unspoken (or frequently spoken depending on which Facebook hiking groups you belong to) rule about LEAVE NO TRACE. This means everything you pack in, you pack out. If you are going to be taking the time to adventure in the great outdoors, please read up on the importance of "packing in, packing out" and don't head out to the trails unprepared. Maybe consider bringing an extra trash bag while you're at it.
Here's a disturbing number of articles regarding the trash people have left behind this year:
(SOUTH CAROLINA) Litter clean-ups finding more masks among the trash
(NEVADA) Trash problem growing at Lake Mead
(MONTANA) Missoula seeing increase use of trails
(COLORADO) More forest users equal more trash, fires
(INTERNATIONAL) Another side effect of COVID-19: The surge in plastic pollution
(NORTH CAROLINA) National parks getting trashed during COVID closures
This list SHOULD make you angry. This is by no means all the articles about all the various different areas and this problem extends well beyond the United States and across the globe. Improperly discarded trash threatens ecosystems by contaminating water supplies, releasing chemicals into the soil, creates choking hazards for animals and more. Eventually, it makes its way back to us.