There’s a bridge, a Highway 401 overpass, at the beginning of the strip of ground I cleaned. Now, when I say clean, I mean to the micro-level, every scrap captured no matter how small. As an experienced volunteer litter picker, very little escapes me. I didn’t go after cigarette butts. That would have required a separate endeavor altogether, there were so many of them. Cellophane, foils and cigarette boxes were fair game though. Systematically I separated items that can be recycled from those that cannot. I collected other litter in a reusable sack and made three trips to the city litter bin near the transit shelter some distance away to deposit each load.
I had a big yellow garbage bag on the go too, stuffed it full of wayward large plastics, remnant plastic, coffee cups, tissues, paper wrapping and packing ties, cigarette boxes, snack and candy wrappers ... You get the picture. This oversized large bag I hauled back home with me and I’ll use a pricey bag tag to legally place it out for the next curbside collection. A great system, isn’t it, where a person has to pay to get rid of garbage not of their own making as well as donate the volunteer hours to clean it up in the first place?
Back at the scene, abutting the base of the bridge, is a narrow strip of land running parallel to the highway behind a chain link fence. Next to it is a parcel of land behind a broken down wooden fence. The property doesn’t appear to be part of anyone’s backyard and it is awash with garbage that has come to rest there either through accidental or deliberate actions. The area behind the fence did not receive the benefit of my tidying. In my mind I could see this orphaned and neglected parcel converted into a beautiful open space and garden once cleared of its considerable trash.
The Province of Ontario owns the strip of land beside the bridge. I was able to get the private company that cleans up this section of the highway to do a special litter pick at this location last summer. It was next to impossible to get it done and I was told it was a one-time-only deal because such cleanups were over and above the terms of the company’s contract with the Ministry of Transportation. A ministry investigation determined the litter was not emanating from the highway above and concluded the area was adequately shielded from litter from raining down by a tall fence bordering that section of the highway. I was told the origin of the area’s litter was at ground level, meaning from homes and businesses, passing cars, trucks, and pedestrians.
I wonder what would be the most effective way to convince them to take proper care of their waste and always use a “garbage can”?