While picking up litter off streets, beaches and other public spaces is not the ultimate solution to the waste crisis, every effort to keep garbage from entering waterways and injuring or killing wildlife counts. Over one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals die every year from ingesting, choking on or becoming entangled in garbage that enters waterways (and in reality, these numbers are probably much, much higher).
Trash lining the streets is extremely problematic. Many people don’t realize that when it rains, any items that line streets and sidewalks small enough to fit down storm drains are flushed into local waterways. Unlike sewage, most stormwater is not treated and cleaned and drains directly into the closet body of water (cities are beginning to talk about and construct stormwater management facilities, such as this one, to clean it before releasing it back into waterways).
While stopping the flow of garbage through bans and government regulations is ultimately what is needed to stop harmful items from being created in the first place, participating in community cleanups can help mitigate some of the damage done to the environment by misplaced trash. #TrashTag, which began as a playful commentary on viral internet challenges for teens but quickly went viral, continues to showcase cleanups taking place all around the world.
If the cleanup you’re attending doesn’t include a Brand Audit of the waste being captured, suggest to organizers that they add it in to the process. Performing a brand audit and asking corporations #IsThisYours helps in the push to get corporations to take responsibility for the single-use garbage they are putting out into the world.
Here’s a list of cleanups happening in and around the City of Toronto this season:
Hosting a cleanup or know of an upcoming one that isn’t listed? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll add it to the list!
Don Valley Litter Cleanup - June 18, 6-7:30pm
Love Your Lake by A Greener Future - Sunday, June 23 and Sunday, June 30
Plastic Doesn’t Belong in Paradise - August 17, 10am-2pm
You can host your own cleanup event via The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.