Spring clean-ups

Perhaps I’m cynical but why are we annually guilt-tripped into participating in spring clean-ups? Yes, there’s garbage everywhere after a long winter but why should individual citizens feel responsible for the littering idiots and their corporate accomplices? After all, we are the (seemingly rare) ones who do put things in the trash.

This is not to disparage the wonderful people who spend time willingly to remove the foul detritus festering since November. I salute these rare and lovely citizens. Unfortunately, the question must be asked, does citizen participation contribute to the problem? Does the annual clean-up reduce the pressure to provide adequate park maintenance budgets and appropriate staffing? Does our free labour contribute to the further decline of our once pristine streets and magnificent park system?

I believe it does.

What makes up the litter in our parks and streets? A non-scientific survey indicates that coffee cups, water bottles, food containers, plastic bags and wrappers, beverage cans and cigarette butts are the main offenders. Despite this, few companies feel responsible for the garbage that proudly bears their logo – not to mention the cost of collection and disposal. That’s where governments are supposed to help. In Europe they’re working on banning single use plastics.

Toronto has no power to do that but Mayor Tory and council should apply more pressure on other levels of government. Council should also spend more on litter collection.

4 thoughts on “Spring clean-ups”

  1. I quite agree on all points, the amount of litter in some parts of Weston is astonishing. The responsibility to address this is collective and should not rest on the shoulders of volunteers. I also agree that the quantities of plastic packaging, bags, etc. are wholly excessive.

    However, the strongest means of discouraging litter is through taboo. To this end, given how completely anti-social and unnecessary littering is, we should be in favour of the most severe and punitive laws, with rewards for public informing (such as in Korea). I am deadly serious.

    1. Through taboo? Really? That could work IF today’s society had any shame in their actions. It all derived from culture and upbringing. Were people taught to respect neighbours and the environment? Were people taught to take pride in where they live and walk? Maybe in some cultures, maybe not in others.

  2. Good points, Roy. Single use plastic and the whole throw away ethos, with bottled water doubly indicted on plastic and messing with water tables, has to change, and it’s not individuals cleaning up twice a year that will make changes.

    The city maintenance needs money, and civic pride needs encouragement not with big concerts but with adequate collection of trash and recyclables so that we’re not confronted by overflowing bins along city streets such as Weston Rd.

  3. I saw a man, on the day this was written, standing at the bus stop at Eglinton and Scarlett, toss a can of pop into ravine. It was a casual toss, as if that was a natural act for him to do. After a brief (and heated) discussion, I learned that “everyone does it” so it’s OK. How someone can just chuck their junk into the park is a big mystery to me.

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