cleaning up your community
Author: Laura Yurincich
One of my favourite things to do is go for a hike. I love to be in nature. Living in Toronto, hiking isn’t a daily option for me, so I have subsidized it by going for walks at night when I cannot make it to the gym. When my partner suggested that we could pick up trash on our walks because he knows how much I hate litter (aww), I thought it was a great idea! Here’s what we’ve learned from this new habit.
what we bring
To start our journey we purchased a pole with a “claw” on the end (yes, we are very dedicated trash collectors). This saves us the trouble of constantly bending over to pick things up, or the need for gloves. We also bring two bags with us, a cloth grocery bag for recyclables, and a compostable bag for garbage.
photo by Pedro Aguilar
what we find
The most irritating thing about picking up trash is that approximately 85% of what we find are the same three items, and none of these items need to exist in the first place.
- Single use coffee cups. Why people do not have a reusable mug is beyond me. It saves you money, keeps your drink warmer, and is cleaner. Yet people insist on using single use cups, and then they end up as litter on our streets.
- Plastic water bottles. Need I say more?
- Cigarette packs. Are smokers just in the habit of tossing things on the street when they are done with them?
None of these items are even close to being essentials, and yet they account for most of the litter in our neighbourhood.
the reactions we get
Everyone who has seen us picking up trash has either a) praised us, or b) given us a weird look. I assume the people who give us weird looks are the same ones throwing items 1-3 on the ground for us to pick up.
As for the people who praise us, while I do appreciate the gesture, I want to tell these people that they could easily be doing this themselves.
The point I’m trying to make here is that small changes made a big difference. In a perfect world, if everyone stopped using plastic water bottles, single use coffee cups, and stopped smoking, there would be a lot less litter. But unfortunately trash (and litter) will continue to happen, so why not get out there and do your bit?
Take a moment next time you’re strolling around your neighbourhood to pick up a few pieces of trash. Every small change can have a lasting impact.
About the author: Laura graduated with a Master's Degree in Political Science from McMaster University, and is currently a hardworking bureaucrat. She was drawn to bare market for its package free laundry detergent, but has stayed to share her experience transitioning to a low waste lifestyle.