History has shown the negative effects of not properly managing your waste. Landscapes were altered, rivers narrowed, and hills created due to ancient civilization. Our ancient ancestors suffered the vicious outbreaks of the likes of the black plague. Certain members of our society today still pollute our cities with their trash. In today's society the developed countries have distanced themselves from their trash, they will complain about the grime on the street yet they drive or walk on by. The irony is that trash may eventually end up being blown into your backyard.
As always the best strategy for waste management is to avoid making trash when possible.
A while ago I challenged myself to pick up one piece of trash every day, and I have so far met that challenge. With such a low goal I have been easily beating the one piece mark. I do not go out of my way to pick up garbage, I only pick up what is in my direct path. I am just like anyone else I have a job that I have to commute to and from. I head home after a tiring day of work and lead a semi busy life. I only pick up a piece of trash when I, if I am in a rush I do not bother and leave it for my slower commute home. I always notice trash everywhere and want to pick it all up, but I know that it will always be there later so give myself a break.
I also have limited myself to only picking up a piece of garbage if I know there will be a trash can within 2 minutes of walking, if I am in an unfamiliar place I will only pick up a piece of trash if their is an immediate trash can. Based on this I have noticed that the number of trash cans in a cities downtown is more than adequate, with a trash can on every corner. However once you are outside of the core the number of trash cans could be doubled, quite often I will find that you may have to walk 5 minutes before you find a receptacle. Provide a trash can and people will be more likely to use it.
Undertaking this challenge I also observed that if you are constantly commuting in an automobile you do not have the opportunity to get intimate with your environment. When you are behind the wheel you do have the chance to clean your city as you commute, the only opportunities you have exist from you front door to the car, and from your car to your office doors or through the parking lot. If you want to participate I still encourage you to do so in these limited situations, or when you take a run, jog, or bike ride.
One of the main culprits littering our fine sidewalks happen to be from the fast food industry, mainly the disposable cups. Tim Hortons and Starbucks must be real proud with the free advertising that they generate with the disposable cups littered about, especially since they make their cups so vivid with the colours. I think it is time for the fast food industry to start acting, enough pussy-footing with the passive agenda of encouraging people to bring their own cups, stop giving out disposable packaging. I am considering undertaking a campaign of collecting all of the trash in one day for one fast food chain and bringing it to closest outlet to show them the damage they contribute to.
The second major culprit happens to come from the tobacco industry. However it is not just the cigarette butts, as one would expect. Every single component involved with smoking ends up on our streets, the cigarette pack wrappers, the cigarette pack containers, the cigarette butts, the plastic mouth pieces, the lighters and matches. Smoking is an industry of littering, as much as I despise smokers our cities really need to increase the number of receptacles available for smokers to dispose of their waste. I would like to see severe fines for cigarette littering after the fact, as there is no excuse since their would be a receptacle on every block.
Other major contributors are grocery bags, newspapers/flyers. Another surprising common trash I ran into was hard plastic off of vehicles, for some reason I did not think that would be a major trash item.
Many people have the belief that the city employs people to clean up our cities, and choose to wait until they do so. Its unfortunate that the city hires workers to do this job, because it sets that sort of thinking. We all live in the same city, why not have some pride and make it the best it can be. I was in downtown Edmonton recently this past weekend and had to walk towards the bus stop and managed to pick up the 15 pieces of garbage littering the 10 meters to the stop. It is so easy to do and yet it has so a big impact, those 10 meters of sidewalk were now clear of its trash. I have also noticed that with transit patrons at an LRT station for example, where there can be 100 people waiting for five minutes for the next train to arrive. They all stand around waiting for the next train, and yet they could easily take two seconds to pick up one piece of trash.