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Local mom creates community group to help clean up litter 'one bag at a time'

Posted at 8:38 AM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 13:03:49-04

(WXYZ) — Brighton mother Ashleigh Tucker is a big fan of walks.

In fact, she says after having her first child, it was a great way to enjoy the great outdoors.

"I really do like to get out a lot," she said.

But it was on those walks when she started to notice something.

"I noticed that there was an increasing problem with litter and especially now with the masks. So that really fueled more of a concerted effort, seeing just more masks than straws, more masks than plastic," said Ashleigh.

Photos courtesy Ashleigh Tucker

So, a year ago, she started to bring a trash picker and a garbage bag along with her.

"I'm not touching anything. I'm not getting dirty, and by the end of my walk, I've got a huge garbage bag that goes in my garbage. And I know that it's not going anywhere else, it's not sitting in my town," she said.

Garbage bag after garbage bag, Ashleigh would collect heaps of trash, documenting her findings along the way from plastics to PPE.

Photos courtesy Ashleigh Tucker

"The masks were frustrating. There's probably about 45 the first day I really counted. And what's nice is you see less and less, but you still see them," she said.

Mike Csapo, general manager of Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County, said while they haven’t noticed a big issue with people trying to recycle PPE, he discourages people from just tossing it wherever they want.

"Throw it in their regular garbage. You know, I think most types of PPE is going to be one-time use or a limited use. So put in a plastic bag with your garbage and put it in your trash can ... I don't think that anybody really wants to deal with your used face mask," he said.

Ashleigh definitely doesn’t want to deal with other people’s garbage, but she does, turning it into a game for her kids to chase the "Litter Critter."

Photos courtesy Ashleigh Tucker

"These kids learn everything from us, our good and our bad. And so if we could provide more good, something that will provide a difference over time, that can change, then there's nothing better than that," she said.

Her son Cameron has a message for that Litter Critter, too.

When asked 'what do you want the little critter to know?' He answered, "That he should not throw down garbage."

Ashleigh has even started a community Facebook group called "One Bag at a Time," hoping to encourage others to start cleaning up on their outdoor adventures.

"I've ... made a lot of change just by picking up one bag at a time, enjoying a walk with my kids, going downtown and also being able to clean up the area has been incredibly gratifying," she said.

Photos courtesy Ashleigh Tucker

She added, "I'm only one person. But, you know, if you can inspire that change, inspire someone who wants to do the same thing and can get gratitude from it, that's the best thing to come."

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