Trash Walking

disposables, keepers, treasures

Thinking, questioning, wondering. A Friday Trash Walk.

I tried to write a post yesterday and just couldn’t seem to get going.  I sat in this very same chair for quite some time, writing an opening line or two, scrapping them, posting a picture, scrapping that.  Sometimes that happens.
So, I hit the streets in my neighbourhood for about 30 minutes, and trash walked.  And I thought while I walked.  I thought about how, on my personal Facebook page, I get more comments and action on a “fun” picture, than I do a post about something important like climate change, or social justice.  I wondered why a beautiful post that I shared called Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye was barely noticed.  Why is that?  Are people burned out or apathetic? Am I using Facebook too seriously.  Should it just be for fun?  No, I don’t think so.

I thought about Activist Abby.  Abby is a teenager in the US who is working hard to ban plastic bags.  There have been some successes on that front recently (California banned them), but there is a lot of big money pouring in to campaigns to repeal California’s law and to ensure that other states don’t follow suite.  Abby’s FB post yesterday sounded like she was tired, frustrated, feeling alone in the fight against plastic bags.  She isn’t alone, and her over six thousand followers can attest to that.  But sometimes, it can feel that way.  I know.

I also thought about the Eco Club that I help out with.  How pleased I am with the t-shirt bags we have been making, about selling them at the school’s Christmas concert.  About the money we will raise to donate to the WWF’s elephant conservation program.  About how I hope people who buy them actually use them, rather than plastic bags.  I use mine all the time!  I hope our bags will spark conversation about plastic.  I wonder if we should tuck an information sheet about plastic bags in to all our bags as we sell them.  I also thought about the new Litter Brigade program that we’ve initiated with Eco Club.  The kids are doing a great job picking up school yard litter, and I’m really proud of them.  I hope the message is getting through.  Here’s what Litter Brigade managed to capture during Wednesday’s lunchtime pick up.


I trash walked for about 30 minutes, and I asked myself many questions.How many people walked by that coffee cup before I grabbed it? Who dropped it in the first place?  What kind of person does that?  Should I try again to get the city to put in some more public garbage cans?  Should I try again to get the Port Credit BIA to help me with this?  How can I increase my reach with this blog?  Who wants to read it?  How do I become more of an activist?  How do I limit the amount of stuff coming in to my house over Christmas?  Why don’t I use this handy “grabber stick” more often?  It’s great!  And so on and so on and so on.  Endless questions, endless thoughts, endless litter.

I didn’t come up with answers, but I did make a small difference yesterday, so I guess that’s a good thing.  I got outside on a quite cold Canadian afternoon.  I’m not a big fan of the cold (especially now, so early in to the season), so I like to think that getting out there at all was a big deal 🙂

Here’s my full bucket, and a partial list of what I filled it with.


7 plastic bottles

5 aluminum cans

5 coffee cups (Tim’s….Canada….sigh….)

1 extra large drink cup, including plastic lid, plastic straw (McD’s)

2 diapers (these had been in an improperly placed garbage bag from someone in my apartment building, bag got ripped, diapers practically on the sidewalk.  Not a good image for our condo.  Might send a note to our management company about proper disposal procedures….)

1 fabric rag

5 bags of dog poo (particularly disgusting, no?)

When I was putting the recyclable materials in to the proper bins, I found this still inflated balloon stuck in behind them, so I was able to snag it as well.


All in all, a good day, folks.  Keep on picking up, won’t you?  And as always, feel free to share photos on my Trash Walking Facebook page

Here’s a link to the blog post where I read Naomi Shihab Nye’s piece:

and here’s a link to Activist Abby’s FB page:



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A busy week. Educating, crafting, organizing, trash walking

The past week has been busy and I have a lot to say about it. It’s been both rewarding and frustrating, and has involved maybe more time that it should have. The messy state of my own house, the emptiness of my fridge and the fullness of my laundry basket attest to how busy I have been. But it’s been a good busy, and I want to share it.
In no particular order, here’s what I’ve been up to.

I cut the sleeves and necklines off a whole lot of donated t-shirts, and then spent several hours cutting fringes at the bottom of said shirts. I tied the fringes together on a couple, added some splashes of paint, and voila! T-shirt carry bags.

I took the sample bags and the pile of pre-cut t-shirts to Eco Club on Wednesday, and got grade 4,5,6, students busy tying the fringes. Next week, we can get in to the fun part of using paint to add a touch of uniqueness to each bag. Each student will be able to take one bag as their own, and will make at least 2 more, to be sold as a charitable fundraising effort in December. I brought all tied bags home, and realized that I would have to inspect each one for holes along the knotted “seam”, where the knots were not executed quite right. There are quite a few that need re-knotting. Bless these kids, I thought this was going to be a fun and relatively easy craft. It’s turning in to a little more work than I anticipated, but the bags are going to be unique and useful, and will hopefully be consciousness raising among the kids and others in the school community and beyond. Hopefully they will inspire conversation about plastic bags. They will be Eco Club’s humble effort at reducing our plastic bag use in good old Port Credit, Ontario.

The last minute cancellation of planned guest speaker at Eco Club had an unexpected result. Upon learning that our guest was unable to attend the meeting, I had to quickly come up something else to do with the students. Since I have been regularly grabbing trash in the school yard, photographing it, and posting it to my trash walking FB page, and since I expected that the amount of candy and snack wrappers would dramatically increase after Halloween, it was a no-brainer to focus on school yard litter for this week’s meeting. With the approval of the principal, we held a trash pick up which included data collection of types of litter found. As well, students wrote and read anti-litter announcements to the student body and created and displayed anti-litter posters throughout the school. Here’s what was picked up on that first day. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but there were well over 200 pieces of trash.
This impromptu activity has happily evolved into the launch of an ongoing, voluntary “Litter Brigade” at the school, and I worked with the principal throughout this past week on figuring out the logistical details of it. It took a fair bit of effort and time, but I think it is going to be a wonderful permanent component of Eco Club. The two litter pick ups completed so far have definitely been eye opening for the students and staff. We may have to iron out a few wrinkles, and make a couple of tweaks to the process, but I’m really pleased so far. We’ll continue to touch on the subject of litter throughout the school year and will be able to relate it to other segments of Eco Club as we proceed.

I did also find some time to do my own trash walking. I won’t go in to great detail about that, because it was really just the usual stuff, sadly. Taken from an empty lot in my neighbourhood that no one seems to take responsibility for. There was a lot there. I took photos and posted pictures to FB, in an album simply titled Lots of Crap.
A mom friend told me a couple of weeks how great I was for doing trash walks, and then went on to explain that she doesn’t have it in her to pick up other people’s trash. She’s a good person, and she loves our neighbourhood. So, I’m working on her. I intend to show her that she does have it in her. We all do. Do you have a friend who you really appreciate, who shares your views on so many things, but who you feel you need to enlighten or wake up in some way?


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