Trash Walking

disposables, keepers, treasures

2014/2015…looking back, looking ahead

Happy New Year!
Although I had always tried to pick up litter here and there prior to 2014, this is the year that I took it up a notch. 2014 is the year that I made a conscious decision to do dedicated trash walks, and to document my efforts via this blog and my Facebook page.
I’m happy with that decision, and look forward to continuing with my efforts in 2015. I always finish a walk with a feeling that I’ve done my best, and I try show through my actions that bending over and picking up a piece of litter is something good. It doesn’t mean that you’re weird, it means that you care. In 2015, I want to make it cool to pick up litter. I want to make what I am doing a community thing, something that we all do, something that we take pride in. I want Port Credit to become known as the cleanest neighbourhood in Mississauga. I plan to work with local businesses to get this litter problem under control. I plan to hound our local politicians, if need be, get more garbage bins placed in key locations.
This past year, I dedicated myself to cleaning up a local lakeside park/beach area, and, during the good weather, was out there picking up once a week. When not lakeside, I picked up around some of the streets in my Port Credit neighbourhood, and at a vacant lot which I have unofficially adopted as my own. I’ve written about my walks, I’ve taken photos of a ton of garbage. I’ve found some cool stuff, but, sadly, I have mainly picked up crap. On Facebook, I’ve shared information from other trash walkers around the world. I have discovered that there are a lot of us out there, and that we’re all essentially working toward the same end, wherever we are. We’re tired of seeing garbage strewn in our public places, spoiling the natural beauty of our planet and we recognize that there is no “away” when it comes to this garbage. We all want to find solutions to this mess we humans have created, and I think we all recognize that it won’t be an easy fix.
It is not easy to live a plastic free life, and there are not many who can do it. I am far from plastic free, but I am consciously taking simple actions to at least reduce my family’s plastic consumption.
The simplest steps, which I have written about before, but that bear repeating, are within everyone’s capabilities.
In 2015, I am asking everyone to join me in really thinking about society’s relatively new addiction to disposability. This addiction to a throw away culture has been created by industry for profit, and has been sold to us in the name of convenience. I want you to help me stand up to litter by inconveniencing yourself just a teeny, tiny bit. Wash out a reusable coffee cup, wash out a steel water bottle, pack your lunch or snack in a reusable container, and remember to bring your reusable bags to the grocery store. Taking these actions will become habit soon enough, but a habit far less damaging to our planet than the plastic habit.
We can begin to turn the tide in this war on litter, just by taking these simple steps. I know that I will definitely see a difference in my own trash walks, because, on the streets, I can tell you that the two items that I pick up more of than anything else are disposable cups and disposable bottles.
I think that I might be preaching to the choir here, and I’m sorry if I come across as preachy. I don’t mean to, I really don’t. But I’m passionate about this, and the more I talk about it, the more change created, I hope. If you already do what I have suggested above, will you please help spread the word?
Thank you to all the trash walkers, beach cleaners, litter pickers and friends who have picked up this year. I hope your year is filled with purpose and joy. I hope that one day, you will go out to pick up litter and NOT FIND ANYTHING! Wouldn’t that be something?

I’d like to share just a couple of pictures to close out this post. First, a piece of art created by Christine Fry, who is concerned about plastic pollution in our oceans, and in particular, the scourge of the plastic bottle. Christine designed and created these labels, and distributed some of them at a recent art show in Toronto. The intent is to raise awareness via social media. Someone picks up a littered plastic bottle, puts one of these labels on it, photographs it, and posts the photo to their social media and to my Facebook page, Trash Walking Moms. Then, of course, they dispose of the bottle appropriately, thus saving it from ending up in the gyre. So far, I have forgotten to bring a label with me when I trash walk, but I will πŸ™‚ Thank you, Christine.

And then there is this photo! Twenty bucks found amongst the fallen leaves on my trash walk this morning. Pretty low pay for a year’s worth of trash walking, but I’ll take it. I’m not in it for the money, that’s for sure! Anyway, the local pub is sponsoring a Polar Bear Dip tomorrow, to raise funds for a couple of great charities. I dropped the money off at The Brogue today. Found money should always be shared. πŸ™‚

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Memories of a November day in 1963 (Daily Prompt: Cause, meet Effect)


(I wrote this before I saw the Cause, meet Effect prompt in the Daily Post. I am editing this post now to include a reference to the prompt. Cause: picking up litter in Ontario,2014. Effect: Memories of a day in America, 1963)

I was so surprised to find the cover of the Life magazine that was published following President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. It’s in perfect condition, which tells me that it (along with the rest of the issue) must have been stored for years, as a keepsake. Maybe whoever stored it passed on, and the person left to dispose of their possessions put it out to the trash, not understanding or caring about it’s significance. And then the wind blew it to the vacant lot in Port Credit, Ontario that I have adopted as my own. Waiting to be picked up, along with the usual assortment of trash.

I was a six year old Canadian school girl when this terrible thing happened, but my memories of that day, and the days after are so very vivid. I recall being sent home early by our teachers as tears streamed down their faces, of my mom and the neighbour lady crying in front of the black and white T.V. where Walter Cronkite was breaking down as he announced that President Kennedy was dead.

When I finish a trash walk, I dispose of what I have picked up in the appropriate spots, either a recycling bin or a public garbage can. Not this. It came home with me, and it is stored away safely now. The sixties were tumultuous times. These are tumultuous times. What do we do to ease the tumult, to make this world a better place? We do what we can. We all have it in us.


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“Slacktivism”, Activism, being the hummingbird. A rebuttal.

A little off the course from my usual Trash Walking posts, but this opinion piece by Scott Gilmore, and published in Macleans magazine on so called “Slacktivism” really got me riled up, so please bear with me, readers.Β  Have a look at the piece here, then please read my response.

I think that what the author fails to understand is that those of us who click, share, and sign online petitions DO care about the particular cause we are promoting on our social media pages and may, in fact, care about several causes simultaneously. But we can’t give our time or our money to every cause that we care about. So people and organizations use social media to, at the very least, raise awareness, and maybe that awareness raising does lead others, who are able to, to donate money or time. No, I did not donate any money to the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, but I do share information about it, because I believe that the situation is an atrocity that needs to be addressed, and I hope with all my heart that The Chibok girls are finally returned to their families. Mr. Gilmore, ask the families of those girls if they are happy that the situation has gained worldwide attention.Β  Ask the good people at ALS Canada and USA if they are happy that “slacktivists” helped to promote their cause.Β  I think the fact that one hundred million dollars was raised will answer that question.

Personally, I have donated to a couple of causes this year, and I plan on continuing to do so. (Plan Canada and ALS.Β  I dumped the ice water, challenged my friends and made a small donation).Β  I am quietly active in several other areas locally.Β  I pick up garbage in my neighbourhood, I gave socks to a little girl named Hannah who is collecting new pairs socks for local people who could use them.Β  I painted rocks for a charity garage sale last year, put on by friends to support the Strickland children of London, Ontario, who lost both parents within a year. I’ve done other things, and so have my friends.

My point is, you know nothing about me or about others like me, Scott Gilmore, and your assertion that tweeting, or not shaving, or pouring ice over your head, or wearing a wristband and otherwise sharing information is “proof that you care more about yourself than the cause” is pretty damned arrogant.Β  On behalf of those who tweet, don’t shave, pour ice water over their heads, share Facebook posts, I’d like to ask you not to belittle us.Β  Like the hummingbird in Wangari Maathai’s retelling of the story and posted on The Kid Should See This, we are doing what we can.Β  Yes, Scott Gilmore, I Googled your name, and I see that you are quite a noted philanthropist, with impeccable credentials.Β  So maybe you made larger donations than we did, or maybe you spent more time working for a cause than us.Β  Good for you.Β  But please, don’t tell those of us who are trying to help in our own small way not to do what we can. If all someone does is click, tweet, or share, maybe it is all they can do right now.Β  If all someone does is drop a toonie in a donation bin, or a can of soup in a food bank collection station, that is what they can do.Β  Maybe they wish they could do more, and maybe, down the road, when they have more time or money, they will.

(Here is the link to the Story of the Hummingbird, as told by Wangari Maathai in Dirt! The Movie)

I’d really like to know what my readers think of this piece by Scott Gilmore, and about my response, so please chime in.Β  I apologize if this is a bit of a rant, but I felt it needed saying.

As always, happy trash walking, happy peace making.



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