the war on litter: notes from the front line


Actually, not so much notes as questions.

For instance…

All those festively coloured bags of doggie doo-doo you see on boulevards, sidewalks, parks, woodlands. Are dog walkers notoriously butter-fingered, i.e. are all those bags unknowingly dropped? Or have they been set down with the idea of being retrieved on the return trip (after all, who wants to carry crud AND a Timmy’s while strolling) and then forgotten when a different route home is decided upon? Or just forgotten. And those baggies all chubby with doo doo tied to fences or hanging from trees. What is that??  The result of someone coming along, finding a dropped bag and thinking: hmmm… let’s see what could be the best possible move here… oh, I know!  Or do the dog walkers themselves use the baggies as a sort of code among themselves? (If so, please let me in on it, because I’m an occasional dog walker myself.)

Also… people who enjoy a walk (with or without furry friends), who choose to ramble in the pristine beauty of a forest, conservation area or field of buttercups, the beach or any shoreline… and yet somehow find it normal to drop their drinking cups, cans, bottles and chip bags like breadcrumbs as they go. Why are you walking in pristine beauty when you obviously don’t like pristine beauty? Wouldn’t it make more sense for you to stretch your legs at the dump? Wouldn’t you feel more at home there??  Serious question.

And speaking of cups, cans and bottles. (And bags of doo doo for that matter.) Please don’t chuck them under trees. It just makes it harder for me to ferret them out. (FYI — they don’t magically become invisible under there)

Oh, and to the black Honda with tinted windows in front of me as I left the Bulk Barn the other day, whose passenger threw a plastic cup out the window while I watched, stunned:  I’m sorry I didn’t gather my moxie in time to put my car in Park, get out, knock on your tint and ask you in my best inquiring-minds-want-to-know voice, what the [redacted] is wrong with you. Again, serious question:  How messed up is your life that you have so little regard for the planet and what can we do to help you?

And here’s something I learned recently… cigarette butts take forever to decompose. In the meantime they clog and poison land and waterways and are often found inside fish. Yum!  But even if they didn’t do all that harm, chucking your smokes is very Honey Boo Boo.  Seriously, people who empty ashtrays on parking lots or throw butts out car windows or onto the street… please go live on another planet. Because, wouldn’t you like that, to be among all your like-minded friends, each of you knee deep in schmutz??**

Serious question.

** Of course more garbage cans and public ashtrays wouldn’t go amiss either.

Write letters, people! Ask for what’s needed.

Read the story that goes with this pic, here.

From The Litter I See Project.

9 thoughts on “the war on litter: notes from the front line

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head here, Carin. The problem is exactly that … they don’t think. Or they only think about themselves. As one of our Rasta gardener friends here on Bequia said, “Dey fling it and forget it.” It’s going to take a massive re-education programme and more blogs like yours and vigilance by people like you to make the litterers remember before that litter ever leaves their fingertips. (As for the dog poo bags, they seem to have become a problem in themselves from what was meant to be a solution.)

    1. All of this ranting and the Litter project, etc., is less than baby steps of course. But… 100 monkeys. If we talk about it and others talk about it and someone somewhere says, oh, hey, good point, maybe I’ll stop doing that, then, well, there’s one less piece of crud on its way to our lakes and rivers…

      A tee-shirt with your Rasta guy’s sentiment on it would be kind of great! (:

  2. I agree wholeheartedly but I think that the municipalities must share in the responsibility to keep our neighborhoods clean. First of all, many municipalities allow their citizenry to collect recyclables in large, clear plastic bags (Markham is one of these municipalities, for example). Have you ever taken a stroll on a very windy garbage pick-up day? The plastic bottles, the pizza boxes, the yogurt cups and milk cartons are picked up by the wind and eventually find their way to resting spots under brushes, benches and trees. The park across my home is littered with them, so is my street. Secondly, the city should make available more public garbage bins so that dog-walkers, on-the-run lunch eaters and drink-slurpers might have a place to discard their dog’s poopy bag, the burger’s wrapper, the soda’s cup or whatever else they’re carrying. However I sadly noticed that, when these are available, people tend to place their surplus, filled garbage bags just beside these bins (usually at night when nobody is watching). The limit of four garbage bags for two weeks might be too limited for some people, I guess. Finally, public ashtrays might still serve a purpose because people still enjoy smoking and I for one, being a smoker, would love to have a place where I can safely extinguish my cigarette rather than having to throw it to the ground. We all must play a part in this…

    1. Amen to ALL of that! You’re right on every score. Including the problem of accessible garbage bins… I constantly write to the Town asking for more and better placements… in some cases it would definitely help (the beach, for example) but they tell me that certain locations, especially if near any kind of housing, just gets used as ‘excess dumping ground’ (for people who find the four bag limit ‘too limiting’, as you say). In other words, no matter what the Town does, it comes down, at some point, to ‘us’. It’s always people that can (and should) make a difference.

      I was actually once accused (by someone who would NEVER deign to pick up a piece of litter) that I’m taking jobs away from Town workers. This so concerned me that I called the Town and (after she stopped laughing) the clerk assured me that no jobs will be lost to my litter-cleaning habits. As suspected, there’s an ongoing supply, enough for everybody. Forever.

      However, I LOVE your suggestion of clear bags. Not only for recycling, but for garbage. They have that system out east. Must ask ‘out east’ friends how/if it works.

      Also, the need for public ashtrays, yes. Excellent point. Beside benches in parks, bus stops, outside restaurants and public buildings, etc. I think the powers that be are pretending everyone has quit. Street schmutz says otherwise. Garbage cans used to have an ‘ashtray’ feature, a bit of sand or something as I recall.

      1. Yes. Of course you’re right, Carin. We’re all responsible for our own “deposits” and I’m sure that the Town would also love to keep its streets clean and tidy. However, making it easy for people not to litter (e.g., providing bins, ashtrays and similar fixtures) could be a first step. Or not.

  3. I don’t smoke , but they are all around my house . On my drive way , in my grass , on the street where we live . SICK .

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