An argument against trashing the city
By Kris Scheuer
Want to make the planet a greener, cleaner place?
We need to stop littering. Litter doesn’t just look bad, it’s costing city taxpayers millions a year to clean up and it’s an environmental hazard.
On Jan. 31, I was reminded about this problem twice. On my parents’ downtown Toronto street I saw a hand drawn poster on a pole with a picture of the planet.
In a child’s writing it said, “Save the World. You can start by not littering”.
Earlier that day, on the CBC radio show GO, David Suzuki and three grade 12 students from University of Toronto Schools spent the morning tackling some of the earth’s biggest eco challenges. The largest one they tried to solve was how to clean up the centre of the Pacific Ocean’s plastic garbage patch, a mess the show said was at least twice the size of the state of Texas.
Some floating plastic is broken into smaller pieces and mistaken for food by wildlife who can die by eating too much of this indigestible litter. The students on the show suggested setting up ahuge floating recycling station to clean up the litter and then setting up stiffer penalties for polluting.To help be part of the solution each year consider joining the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup , which gets rid of litter along our rivers, lakes and oceans across the country.
In Toronto alone volunteers picked up 7,020 food wrappers, 5,243bags, 4,725 bottle caps or lids and 3,678 plastic bottles during the 2007 cleanup.
|“Much of it doesn’t come from people tossing things off boats orinto the lake,” Eric Solomon, vice president of conservation, research and education for the Vancouver Aquarium, tells me. “Much of the litterin downtown Toronto (for example) will wash up in gutters and stormwater drains into the waterways.”
This year’s shoreline cleanup is set for Sept. 19–27.
On April 24, Mayor David Miller’s 20-minute makeover will encourageus to pick up litter around our homes, offices and schools. April 25 is community clean up day when Torontonians pick-up litter in their neighbourhood during the morning or afternoon.
The city is also doing its part spending $20 million annually to clean city streets.
Major roads like Spadina Ave. get daily litter vacuums on sidewalks, except during the winter when snow gets in the way.
They also get bag-and-broom service twice a day during the summerand daily the rest of the year, while mechanical sweepers brush the roads every day.
Garbage bins are emptied on a daily basis year-round, and residential streets receive mechanical sweeping services twice a month.
Some people complain there aren’t enough garbage bins around to toss trash into. The city has about 4,000 now and is expected to roll 12,000 new bins over the next 20 years.
But these initiatives don’t entirely solve this reoccurring problem. So the city fines litterbugs $305, but that’s only if they are caught in the act.
Rob Orpin, director of city collection operations, says, “Our key message is asking people, ‘Don’t litter. Look for a receptacle.’ ”
I couldn’t agree more. Let’s hold on to our paper coffee cups,newspapers, pop cans and food wrappers until we find a trash can or recycling bin.
(Originally published online at http://www.mytowncrier.ca April/09)