Rochester’s annual Litter Bit Better city-wide cleanup event has been postponed, the health of its volunteers in mind.

The announcement came Monday. Rochester Evironmental Education Specialist Stephanie Hatzenbihler said the event will be moved to October due to COVID-19 concerns. It had originally been scheduled for April 25-May 3, then was moved to May 9-17, before finally getting bumped to October.

“The health and safety of our Litter Bit Better volunteers are of the highest importance,” Hatzenbihler said.

The Litter Bit Better planning team is comprised of R Neighbors and Olmsted County Environmental Resources, among others.

The clean-up drive has been in place since 2007. Last year, 4,000 volunteers removed nearly 9 tons of trash as it canvassed Rochester.

In 13 years, Litter Bit Better has removed over 150 tons of litter from the community. The goal of the program is to reduce land and water pollution, as well as beautify Rochester.

Though Hatzenbihler sees a downside in waiting until October to remove Rochester’s litter, with the garbage staying in the enviroment longer than recent years, she also sees an upside.

“The good thing is, that (litter) will now be removed just before the snow comes,” Hatzenbihler said. “We’ll have less snow-covered litter then (next spring).”

While the Litter Bit Better planning team is delaying its annual clean-up event, Hatzenbihler said it is promoting ways for Rochester residents to continue to do their part in beautifying Rochester while staying safe and following social-distancing practices.

Among them:

• Bring a small trash bag on a neighborhood walk and deposit garbage into it seen along the way.

• Register for and clean up neighborhood storm drains.

• Place all of your home’s trash in a plastic bag and tie it shut before throwing it away. Take care to not overload your garbage and recycling containers and make sure those containers close completely.

• Learn from your curbside hauler or from the Olmsted County Recycling Center what can be recycled.

Volunteer groups and individuals who had already registered for the Little Bit Better drive will have their sites held unless they make cancellations through Eventbrite or by emailing Registration will remain open this summer.

Litter Bit Better has 350 clean-up sites. Hatzenbihler says that 50 percent of them have already been been claimed by volunteers and that 300 of those 350 sites are adopted most years.

Hatzenbihler is again expecting up to 4,000 volunteers this year.