Picking up garbage is a lot less trashy than it sounds

Kendra Clarke picks up a plastic bottle from the ground to be recycled. Photo credit: Cecelia Feor

Garbage is a part of life, like it or not. What is done with that garbage, however, can be controlled.

Residents from the Woodbine Beach area recently started a collective that has placed 11 hand-made bag stations along the lake, to encourage beach goers to pick up their trash instead of leaving it behind.

At least some of that trash won’t end up in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating island made up of an estimated 80,000 tonnes of garbage.

The “patch” floats between Hawaii and California, and rose to infamy in recent years over its mass. but its existence begs the question: why does it exist at all?

People need to take the initiative to pick up trash and put it where it belongs. This is arguably the easiest step to be responsible for the planet.

In 2016, Ontarians contributed to 36 per cent of all residential waste in Canada. The province represents almost one fifth the population, or more than 14-million people of the more than 36-million living in Canada.

That’s more than 585 pounds per Ontarian a year, or a little more than two pounds a day.

Think about all the plastic packaging, wrappers, and cardboard left behind to never see the darkness of an appropriate recycling bin.

Consider a pop can, something a part of daily life for many, which can take up to 200 years to decompose. That can could be recycled an infinite number of times, according to Earth911.com.

Most plastics can take anywhere from 500 to 1,000 years to decompose if not recycled properly, according to EcoWatch.com.

While talking trash is important, taking action is essential.

A windy garbage day is met with a cringe from many, as recyclables and trash litter across lawns and ditches, left there but not picked up. Sure, someone else will pick it up, isn’t that why there’s garbage collection?

But the mentality of garbage being someone else’s problem is exactly what creates the problem.

A 2018 report by the UN Governmental Panel on Climate Change found if human habits don’t change by 2030, the damage to Earth will be irreparable.

In 2015, Canada agreed to Global Goals, a project with “17 goals for a better world by 2030.” This is the same year, the report signals greenhouse gas emissions will reach a peak threshold.

Goal 12 is responsible consumption and production. Target 12.5 says to “substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.”

Target 12.8 says to “ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.”

Canadians have access to the relevant information. A poll by Abacus Data in 2018 found 41 per cent of Canadians think climate change is a big problem, followed suit by a moderate problem at 34 per cent. Lifestyles need to reflect this knowledge.

After all, who doesn’t want to be in harmony with nature?

If the price to pay means picking up a Tim Hortons cup that isn’t yours and putting it where it belongs, you can’t argue. Really, it’s the Canadian thing to do.

Picking up trash does a lot more than talking it.