Sunday, March 26, 2006

Garbage, garbage, garbage

A couple of weeks ago I recommitted to walking 10,000 steps a day. Just a personal goal, mostly for health reasons since I get no other forms of exercise. At lunchtime I walk from my office to the end of Harbour Passage and back, which is about 1/2 hour. On the weekends and after work, I will walk varying lengths of Manawagonish Road, from my house, cutting through Island View School, onto Manawagonish to Purdy's Corner (where it meets Manchester Ave). Walking to Purdy's Corner and back takes me a few minutes over an hour.

Last weekend, something caught my eye. I started to notice just how much garbage was lying all along the sidewalk and side of the road. Some of it blown there by the wind after crows attack the bags on garbage day, some of it carelessly thrown on the ground as litter, some of it just now coming to light since the snow has melted away. It became the focus of that day's walk, how much garbage I was seeing and eventually it felt like that was all I was seeing. It felt like walking through a dump.

Yesterday I decided I was going to do something about it. I knew I wouldn't be able to get every single piece of garbage along the route, and also didn't want to trespass on people's property, but I was going to pick up what I could along my walk. It wouldn't solve the problem, but it would definitely help in some small way. At the very least, I wouldn't have to keep seeing that gross hairbrush.

I drew the line at picking up cigarette butts, snotty kleenex, used condoms, the pregnancy test (that was more disturbing than the used condom) and I wasn't sure what my position would be on needles, but I thankfully didn't find any. What I did find was an old shirt, beverage containers, plastic forks & spoons, two beer bottles in the school playground (one broken, one not), cigarette packages, an old hairbrush, plastic bags, pieces of fake flowers from the cemetery, bottle caps, packaging from various products sold at MediTrust Pharmacy, and the most popular item of the day was most definitely plastic straws. Apparently no one likes to hang on to straws.

By the time I hit MediTrust, 15 minutes into my walk, my bag was pretty much already full. I kept cramming stuff into it as I went along. Stopping for garbage added about another 1/2 hour onto my walk. I know it's a good thing that I got that much garbage off the sidewalk, but at the same time it's also very depressing to have picked up that much garbage and yet still left so much more behind (especially in front of Curves/MediTrust).

I guess I had been living under the false impression that littering was no longer a popular thing to do. What I really don't understand is why. Why is it so hard to hang on to that used kleenex until you get home? Did you really put that much snot on it? Wrap it in another kleenex and stick it in your pocket. It won't kill you to hang on to a used kleenex. I promise.

I guess these people just don't care what they are doing to their environment. They don't care that they're making it look like a dump and they are polluting it. All, I think, out of laziness. It's pretty sad when you can't hang on to a pop bottle until you get home, instead throwing it out your car window or just dropping it on the ground. What do you think happens to this stuff? It's sad that some people still haven't learned to clean up after themselves. Sorry there aren't any garbage cans along Manawagonish Road, but that doesn't mean you can treat it as a dumping ground.

One of the worst in terms of offending litter that I see (less so on the West Side, but more of the litter on Harbour Passage) are the *&^%(& Tim Horton's coffee cups and lids. By looking at Harbour Passage, you'd think there was a self-destruct mechanism on these cups, that if you don't drop it as soon as you're finished with it, it will kill you. These paper cups & plastic lids outnumber any other kind of litter I've seen during my walks on Harbour Passage. What really saddens me is that there are at least 4 garbage cans on the path. The laziness and/or carelessness of some people to not bother holding on to their empty coffee cups a bit longer until they reach the garbage can is just astounding to me.

After this effort, I then concentrated on my own yard. Not being a littering person, any garbage that was in my own yard was usually blown there from someone else's yard. In my yard I found plastic bags, Halloween candy wrappers, 3 tennis balls, 1 other black ball, a kids' watering can, and a Corelle plate looking to be in perfect condition other than being dirty. Not sure which neighbor it belongs to, but I may try to clean it up and find its owner. Sad that there was that much garbage that had floated its way into my yard. At least it is much cleaner now.

There was one disturbing thing that I found in my backyard, way at the back beside my neighbor's fence. The largest poop I'd ever seen. I don't know if I want to know what animal created that poop. I've seen dog poop, and cat poop, but this was no ordinary poop. It was scarily-large poop. Probably a good 2" wide poop, and I am not exaggerating. I have no idea what's walking around in my backyard when I'm not looking. I may not want to know.

So after my weekend of trying to make a small corner of my world less filled with litter, I do feel like I succeeded at the task. I hope you're placing your garbage in a garbage can, or even better, recycling as much as possible. I'm going to continue to do my part.


Cyn said...

This is something I really notice when coming home. The bigger cities have a clean-up budget, but it's hard for smaller cities like SJ to justify that. Heck, in Hamilton they even had a special cleaner to get ground in gum off the sidewalks in the downtown core! And they really take littering quite seriously. It's sad really because that definitely is a visible downfall of SJ.

Chris L said...

That is a disturbing story. I wonder how it compares to So Cal. There's quite a bit of junk floating around here as well, but it's mostly on concrete so the street sweeper can drive along and pickup the junk.

liz said...

I think Cyn has hit the nail on the head there. We just don't have the budget for regular cleaning. The city is so geographically large that they don't have the resources to clean all of it. Unfortunately those who litter aren't helping the matter.

scum said...

I'm disturbed by the amount of litter I see each day when I take the dog out to poop where we live now.

The last few days I've taken the dog out and started thinking about doing just what you did... Cleaning up the garbage at least between our building and the next. There is currently a WHOLE (not broken down at all) cardbaord box for a baby gate on the lawn.

And it's not just the city. When we were living at the camp, I became increasingly incensed at the amount of litter I saw lining our dirt road.

Tim Horton's cups makes up the largest quantity of the garbage in both areas.

mare said...

way to go there, mr. knibb.


it IS pretty gross though. there just isn't enough money to keep on top of everything... what with so many living outside the taxed area and coming in to litter, and all.

liz said...

Someday, Mr. Knibb will be gone, and the city will be even worse.

Cyn said...

Not possible. We cannot let him go. Yikes! An SJ without Mr Knibb. Sigh.

Scott Thomas said...

Sorry about that poop. I really should have done something about that at the time...that was a good halloween party though.