OCEAN COUNTY– While the coronavirus pandemic may have us cooped up inside our homes, Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari reminded residents that efforts to protect the environment are still crucial to our future.

“Earth Day is April 22 and I ask everyone to join me in marking this important date,” Vicari said. “While we may not be able to take part in the usual traditions of cleaning beaches or planting seedlings, we must not forget the importance of Earth Day.”

Vicari renewed his call to protect the environment from the sudden influx of rubber gloves that many people are dropping onto the ground rather than disposing of properly.

“Not only are used rubber gloves a health threat during this pandemic, they are also a threat to the environment,” he said.

The gloves not only stop up storm drains, but they can find their way into lakes, rivers and the bay, posing a threat to wildlife.

While rubber gloves are an important tool in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, they must be disposed of properly.

He suggested residents keep plastic bags in their vehicles so used gloves can be placed in the bags and thrown out once residents return home.

Vicari also praised supermarkets and other stores that have added extra trash receptacles to their parking lots specifically for the gloves.

The Freeholder Director said the ongoing lockdown has made people in general more appreciative of the outdoors and Ocean County’s natural environment.

“We always took a walk along the beach or a hike through many of our county parks for granted,” Vicari said. “Now that we can’t fully enjoy the outdoors we realize how important these activities are to ourselves and our families. We must protect these natural treasures.”

Ocean County regularly cleans its storm drains in a year-round effort to protect the Barnegat Bay.

“Please do not throw plastic bottles, cigarette butts or any other trash onto the ground,” Vicari said. “Chances are anything on the ground will eventually end up in a storm drain and could pollute the bay.”

The Freeholders also encourage residents and business to be responsible with the use of lawn fertilizers and recommend the use of an Exceptional Quality fertilizer as deemed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

OCEANGRO, an organic nitrogen fertilizer produced by the Ocean County Utilities Authority has been found by the EPA to “pose no reasonable risk to the environment or human health.”

OCEANGRO is available at farm markets throughout the county. Visit ocua.com for more information.