For me, it began with a tweet to @HavardGould, one of this country’s outstanding investigative journalists. He and producer Carla Turner exposed the depths of Canada’s dirty secret in a documentary on illegal dumping that aired Monday night. I took to Twitter to thank @CBCTheNational and to share my knowledge about the link between littering and dumping in 140 characters or less. “Dumping begins with littering, a gateway crime,” I tweeted.
People don’t start off in life dumping raw garbage into forests, streams and pastures. They begin their unseemly journey down Environmental Degradation Lane by littering.
Regular readers of my blog will be familiar with my belief that littering is the first rung on a ladder of “green crimes” that can include everything from dumping to vandalism. Littering is the Ground Zero of anti-social behavioral development, the birthplace of slovenly, a key marker for future showings of public disrespect and illegality.
The theory of littering as a “gateway” to other anti-social behaviors comes from a noted green criminologist and university lecturer in England. As soon as he explained it to me, it made perfect sense.
If a person never litters, obviously they will never, ever dump. Flip the coin and you should be wary of anyone who litters as they do display the same traits as a despicable dumper.
That makes littering no small matter.
Havard’s documentary elicited a deluge of viewer responses.
To have a slice of national airtime for last night’s follow-up piece, being filmed picking up trash in our wooded, local park, will always be memorable, especially the dozen or so tightly tied bags of dog crap my dog-walking neighbours left behind. By chance I was wearing my cool, hemp-cotton, Pick It Up t-shirt from my online pal Jeffrey Poster, of www.stoplittering.com, in North Carolina.
CBC cameraman, Randy, who coincidentally grew up in the area, played in those forests as a kid and went to the same public school as I did, recorded me picking up four plastic shopping bags full of litter, including the disgusting poop bags, in a period of maybe 10 minutes. My CBC companions were amazed at the level of accumulation, and we only scraped the surface.
There’s a public hunger for answers to this problem. Maybe with the spotlight of the CBC cross-country documentary, governments and corporations will respond to and back my call for an intelligent conversation about what can be done.