Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Plenty of ways to keep our beautiful planet squeaky clean

Last week’s Spring Into Clean was an annual ritual Living Green helped found back in 2003. From a few dozen people picking up litter around the lakeshore, it has since spread to parks, schoolyards, ditches and parking lots across Barrie and includes thousands of students, families, coworkers, and other citizen groups. Hopefully you took part, but if you didn’t, don’t worry: the battle against litter can still use recruits.
The City of Barrie also has an Adopt-a-Park/Trail program. If your friends, classmates, coworkers, team or family have the gumption, sign up to look after a park for a year. You commit to spring and fall litter clean-ups on your schedule, and otherwise keep an eye on things to let the City know of any major trash or vandalism in the meantime.
Myself, I’m the proud adoptive “father” of two parks. With Living Green, my family and I tidy Queen’s Park in downtown Barrie twice a year, while with the Green Party, we do the same along the trail in Sunnidale Park each spring and fall.
But this year’s day at Queen’s Park featured a nice surprise, as it had less litter than usual. The reason, we discovered, is that L.S. Shane of Unity Market & Studios has been diligently taking himself and, when available, volunteers on downtown litter clean-ups every Sunday afternoon. Since they often visit this park, the usual backlog of winter waste wasn’t waiting, although sadly we did still manage to fill several bags with fresh trash. So if you want to help but can’t wait for fall, or don’t want to adopt your own park, you can join Shane any Sunday at 2 pm at Unity (at the bottom of Toronto Street) and help keep our downtown presentable.
But of course it would be best if there weren’t litter to gather. The City is always trying to improve the presence of trash receptacles, even introducing deeply-buried year-round garbage cans, to help with the winter months when cans used to be absent. There is also a slow but steady growth in the availability of recycling bins in public spaces.
Yet the true tragedy of litter is that, even when picked up, it remains an environmental catastrophe. Litter sent to landfill doesn’t disappear, it just becomes tomorrow’s problem. So the real challenge for everyone is to create less in the first place – less waste, even less recycling. Carry a mug to get coffee or tea, instead of needing a throwaway. Refuse bottled water, and fill a metal bottle with Barrie’s crystal-clear tapwater (filtered, if you prefer). Eat an apple or banana instead of a plastic-wrapped candy bar or bag of chips. Carry reusable shopping bags. If we don’t make litter, we won’t have to dispose of it.

UPDATE: This column generated a letter to the editor from Nestlé Waters Canada. You can read it here, and see my response in tomorrow's column.

Another UPDATE: Another letter to the editor ("Letter of the Day"), this time from Don MacNeil of Barrie's Council of Canadians responding to Nestlé 
Published in my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as "Plenty of ways to keep our beautiful city squeaky clean".
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada.

No comments:

Post a Comment