The pond in Toronto’s Humber Bay Park had a shocking 118 kg of garbage fished out of it by local community members in August of 2018. The stunning amount of litter, consisting mostly of cigarette butts, plastic water and pop bottles and styrofoam amassed the 118 kg in only three hours! There was more to come – they even found a cross country ski!
The story of the Humber Bay Park Pond isn’t exclusive to Toronto. Municipal parks across Canada are constantly flooded with garbage and recyclables despite often having maintained disposal bins for both.
Litter is a problem for many cities and towns. Often there are significant fines for those caught littering on highway on-ramps, and one local officer in Barrie is even fining citizens for littering of cigarette butts.
We can all help reduce the amount of litter. Aside from the common sense approach – throw away your garbage – take preventative measures to ensure reducing the amount of waste you create.
Use your reusable packaging or personal water bottles instead of the plastic ones. The University of Toronto reports that as much as 50% of all plastic water bottles consumed are tossed away improperly, going to landfills instead of recycled properly, meaning as much as 65 million bottles end up in the landfills. And that’s just Toronto! Imagine the whole country! By shifting to using reusable water bottles and tap water you’re already significantly reducing waste.
Plastic packaging, packing paper and other commercial retail products often make it to the parks as litter. It’s understandable, in a way. As municipalities update their restrictions, what was once a piece of recyclable material as plastic now goes with cardboard. Such is the story of plastic grocery bags, which can amass a pile pretty quickly in most homes. Keeping up on these laws and changes – most municipalities send out updated restrictions and policies annually – helps keep rogue plastics and paper products in check, ensuring they go where they need to go instead of the landfill.
A lot of litter piles up due to lacking garbage bins nearby. Sometimes we see something fly from the window of the car in front of us while driving. A small slip of paper, plastic, or a cigarette butt. It could fly anywhere, and that garbage thrown away on the highway could be blown to the park by a particularly whirly wind that day. We just never know what path that litter could take and, in turn, the full effect it could have on the environment.
If a cluttered car is a concern, simply put a small waste basket in the car for the small pieces of garbage you may have on your travels. It’ll keep that garbage from becoming litter and push it to being disposed of properly.
The more we push against littering, the more beautiful parks like Humber Bay Park won’t have to worry about having garbage fished out of it!