Samantha Gropper likes to wind down in Hudson River Park. 

"My favorite thing to do after work is to take a nice long walk, especially in a nice clean park," Gropper said.

What You Need To Know

  • Samantha Gropper was infuriated seeing littered PPE throughout the pandemic

  • Gropper is an elementary school teacher and encourages her students to keep green spaces clean

  • She wrote "Going Green In Quarantine," a children's book about a fictional student who encounters littered PPE

  • The main character learns about lessening pollution and using biodegradable materials

She doesn't take a clean park for granted. Seeing littered PPE throughout the pandemic infuriated her.

"I was seeing them thrown in parking lots and all over the floor of my street," Gropper said.

Having access to clean green spaces is so important to her that she wrote a children’s book during the pandemic called "Going Green in Quarantine." 

It's centered around a fictional elementary student.

"She learns she has to go from learning at school to learning virtually," Gropper said. "Her mom has a problem. As a sanitation worker, she is finding so many gloves and masks littered everywhere."

The main character was determined to lessen pollution.

"Her and her mom did research and they found the good materials that are biodegradable, such as bamboo, hemp and seaweed, and she uses those materials to invent biodegradable masks," Gropper said.

Gropper said she hopes her book will encourage people to keep parks clean.

"I hope that this book inspires people to go green, be green and keep their communities clean," Gropper said.

If it sounds like a lesson, maybe that's because Gropper is an elementary school science teacher on Long Island who also designs curriculum for Elm Community Charter School in Queens. She said teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, to students at home was tough.

"It was very hard to teach STEM virtually. We did not know what materials students had at home what resources they had," Gropper said.

Now that New York has reached the 70% vaccination rate, masks are mandated in fewer places. On our shoot with Gropper, we couldn't find one piece of PPE littered at the park at Pier 45. Gropper was glad to see that. 

"Coming to the park and and seeing no masks and litter was amazing, and I hope as restrictions lift that we continue to see a really clean city," Gropper said.