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Couple commits to community cleanup during COVID-19

Sunday, March 29th 2020, 2:58 pm - An Etobicoke couple has made cleaning up the community part of their quarantine routine.

Blaine Hinkson and his wife Andrea Makauskas both have the ability to work from home during these uncertain times.

“Luckily, I mean we're a couple that enjoys spending time together so it's not one of those where we get on each other's nerves. It's just a matter of finding the space. If she's got a call or I got a call, coordinating it,” joked Hinkson.

Hinkson works for Apple, while Makauskas works for a bank downtown Toronto. Though the couple may be confined to their home for the time being, they made a commitment to stay active. They made taking walks in their community a part of their daily routine.

Related: We sat down with the experts to talk about weather and COVID-19

“We're lucky we live in Etobicoke really close to the Humber river system and all the trails there,” said Hinkson. “We are very fortunate to have the access to those parks and those trails close to us, and really there's not a lot of people there so we don't have to worry about the social distancing.”

While on their walks, they noticed something beyond the beautiful scenery.

“It was really refreshing and great to be outside and get some fresh air, but along those walks when we started looking closer, we noticed a lot of garbage and junk,” said Hinkson. “Certain areas, in particular, it became very apparent that there was just garbage.”

So, they took it upon themselves to pick that garbage up.

“We basically said that one of the walks each day that we go for is going to be for us and for exercise, and we would do a second kind of shorter one, and we'd make sure that we did a little cleanup as part of our daily routine,” he said.

Marta community cleanup interview Credit: Blaine Hinkson

Hinkson went online to purchase a garbage picker. The other items they use for their cleanup include garbage bags and gloves.

“We thought it was a great investment to kind of give back and clean up our community,” he said. “We both wear work gloves just in case we have to touch anything, but we try to avoid that.”

Together the duo has covered quite the terrain.

“We're averaging eight and a half to 10 km a day of walking. Now that's not always doing the garbage,” he said. “I would say to the park and back, we've probably done probably eight blocks total, something like that, where we clean the four to five blocks on the way there, four to five blocks on the way back. Then I'd say probably a couple hundred feet of either park or school grounds.”

He said the type of garbage they see is typically much of the same.

“A lot of kind of daily use plastic cups and lids and coffee cups, that kind of stuff seems to be the most prevalent,” said Hinkson.

“I don't know who or why, but there were at least six or eight pairs of latex gloves that, obviously during these times people are using gloves more, and it's just unfortunate to see them throw them on the ground.”

Hinkson posted pictures of their cleanup using the #covidcommunitycleanup.

Marta FB screenshot community clean up

“It's been pretty remarkable actually. I didn't do it for any sort of recognition, it was sort of just it feels good,” said Hinkson.

He said there is something meaningful about using their spare time for good.

“I posted it just to maybe try to inspire, maybe brighten people's days and just be like ‘hey, you can still get outside of your houses and your condos and get some fresh air and while you're doing it, you know, why don't you think about maybe doing something that you can give back a little bit’,” said Hinkson.

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