Trash Walking

disposables, keepers, treasures

Onward with Trash Walking: Ideas, Makers, Art

Well, here we are, almost half way through the first month of the year, and I haven’t posted a single thing since New Year’s Eve. Of course, I have picked up trash every day. Doing so is just an ingrained habit now, almost to the point of obsession. I can no longer take a leisurely neighbourhood walk, just for the sake of walking, because I am compelled to pick up trash as I go. Sometimes, I wish I could put on some rose coloured glasses, and just see beauty when I walk. But I can’t. I see trash spoiling the beauty, and I just have to pick it up. And so it goes. This slightly obsessed Port Credit Trash Walker is going to keep going, keep picking up, keep writing about it.

I mentioned in my last post that I am going to make 2015 a year to kick things up a notch. Specifically, I want to get others involved. To engage business owners, the local Business Improvement Association, schools. I have some ideas, and I’m excited to be meeting with a friend tomorrow to hear about some ideas she has, and to share mine with her. Once we’ve met, I’ll hopefully have some plans to share with you.

I had to re-name my Facebook page recently, by adding the word Moms to Trash Walking. This is because I discovered quite by accident that a fellow trash walker in New York State already had a page called Trash Walking. To avoid confusion among our zillions of followers, I added a word to my page name. I introduced myself to New York Trash Walker, and since then follow her page, as she does mine. She’s dedicated to her mission to clean up her neighbourhood, is very funny, and an excellent researcher. She gets in to the details of trash, in terms of it’s origins, waste disposal programs et cetera.
When changing the name of my page, I deliberately chose Moms, not Mom, because I want other Moms to join me. I also want Dads, Aunts, Uncles, Kids, Brothers and Sisters, but adding all of those to the title seemed a tad long.

My obsession with picking up trash is accompanied by a touch of hoarding tendency too, and I am really, really trying to manage that. I tend to keep waste items because I might be able to make something out of them. In my possession right now are about a thousand or so plastic bottle caps (left overs from a bottle cap art project we did with Eco Club last year) along with assorted plastic gift cards, coffee bags, old CDs and floppy discs, as well as a bucket full of plastic toys and dooh dads that my son has received in gift bags etc. and that he definitely does not miss. If you Google “what to make from used coffee bags” (or gift cards, or CDs or floppy discs ) you’ll find all kinds of tutorials for making wallets, jewelry, mobiles, frames, wreaths and so on. My son and I made some fun mobiles with CDs in 2013, and even sold a few as a fund raiser for Syrian refugees, and I think Eco Club might have a go at coffee bag wallets and CD spinners sometime this year. I really wish I had the time and the space to work on projects more. I’ll figure it out. Until then, I quietly tuck things away, here and there, and work on not letting it get out of hand.
Here are just a couple of pictures of my “collection” of stuff



In my Facebook life, I have found several artists and crafters who use an assortment of trash or beach finds to create some stunning art. I am in awe of their creativity, and love that they are re-purposing something that has been discarded.
One of my favourites is Flotsam Weaving, from England. The name says it all. She creates inspired tapestries using beach finds. She’s even done a TED talk on her work! You ought to check out her page!

Until I write again, I’ll keep on trash walking, and I hope you will too.



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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No Plans

Wow, it’s been a long time (31 days, to be exact) since I posted anything at all!  With school holidays almost over, I’ll have more time to write very soon.  Until then, just a short post tonight, a couple of pictures, and a few thoughts about each one.

My son Noel and I really had no plans for today, and although we made some phone calls and tried to drum up some fun, it became apparent that it was just going to be the two of us today.  One friend was off to the cottage, another at his grandparents’ home, another was under house arrest until his room was cleaned.  Noel was bummed, because he is nine now, and his friend time is increasingly becoming more interesting to him than time with his moms.  The life of an only child.  Determined to have a good day, though, I suggested we just go for a neighbourhood bike ride, and see what came of it.  Over to the school we went, hoping to find someone else there.  No one. But Noel had packed his new walkie talkies so we gave them a good workout.  While he enjoyed using the new climbers, I toured the school yard collecting the litter that has accumulated over the last six weeks.  We chatted over the radios, and perfected the art of saying “over” every time we finished a transmission, and “10-4” to confirm understanding of one another.  Quite fun!

I ended up with two bags of garbage, one bag of recyclable drink containers (29 of them!), IMG01128-20140818-1228IMG01122-20140818-1156and a very battered Ontario birth certificate, which I kept.  I can make out the name, date and place of birth, so I think I’ll see if I can track down the owner.  It’s weird to think about having this person’s very important ID in my hands.  Who is he?  What is his life like?  What is he like? Is he here in Port Credit?  Is he still living?  I hope so.  IMG01123-20140818-1213

That was my morning today.  We came home for lunch, then went out for another ride later.  That ride turned out to be golden, because it lead to an hour or so of spontaneous, unstructured and imaginative building with two other kids at a local lakeside park.  No climbers, no toys, no bikes.  Just driftwood, willow branches and vines.  Pure joy watching these kids build a teepee.  We now have plans for tomorrow afternoon.  Heading back to this beautiful park to continue work on the summer teepee.  I’m glad we have a plan for tomorrow, but sometimes, I think I plan too much, try to fill Noel’s days too much.  Sometimes, we just need to go with the flow, and see where the day takes us.IMG01135-20140818-1638Peace!

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Mother’s Day Balloon

Last spring, I was trash walking along the stretch of beach on Lake Ontario that I have unofficially adopted. Tangled in the bushes at the edge of the beach was this.


It was probably about two weeks after Mother’s Day. The first Mother’s Day that I had not visited my mom with a card or a gift. Mom had passed away in December, and I was really missing her. I might have even been thinking about her at the time, because I do a lot of thinking when trash walking.
I picked the balloon up, and carried it along with the rest of the day’s haul. When it came time to throw it away, though, I just couldn’t. I don’t know why. Other than that it says Happy Mother’s Day right there on its shiny surface, it has absolutely no relationship to my mom. I never gave a similar balloon to her, and I never would have thought of doing so. It was more cards (sometimes homemade) or flowers for my mom. It’s not a pretty artifact. But still, I could not throw it away. It was given to a mother I don’t know, by a child I don’t know, in celebration of this special day. I hope that this mom and child did have a good mother’s day together, and I hope that the balloon release was just an accident. I’m glad that I found it. It’s in the trunk of my car, tucked away with various other bits of debris. I don’t pull it out and think of mom or anything, it just sits there. I think of her every day, and this balloon has nothing to do with that.   I’ll probably throw it out some day, just not today.

(I follow a really great organization on Facebook called Balloons Blow. Balloons Blow was founded and is run by two Florida sisters, who have a deep and lifelong love and respect for the beach, the ocean, and the all creatures who live there. Reading their posts about ocean trash and the harmful effects of balloon releases inspired me to pick up more, and are part of the reason I decided to write about the garbage I pick up.

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Tonka trucks! Cherished memories.



These are photos of my son Noel, taken 2 years ago.  I wanted to capture some shots with Noel and his collection of Tonka trucks then, because I had come to the realization that our Tonka days were almost over, that my truck obsessed kid was about to move to a new obsession.  Maybe one that I wouldn’t enjoy as much as I had this one. 

I drove around with all of these vehicles in the trunk of my small car for about 3 years. They were such great, social toys, and having them with us was a wonderful way to meet other kids.  They were the icebreaker at the playground, park or beach.  Even if we found ourselves at an unfamiliar playground, surrounded by strangers, all Noel and I had to do was pull out the Tonkas, and he had instant friends.  Suddenly four or five little boys would be building, hauling, demolishing and digging together, with hardly a disagreement among them.  It was so much fun to watch the cooperation, the industriousness, the joy, the fun.  My son is very generous with his toys, always has been.  Actually he’s generous with himself too, and he’ll introduce himself to kids and invite them to join him in playing, with a natural ease and sincerity that is beautiful to witness.  I think the Tonkas in the trunk had a big part in the growth of this side of my son.

These Tonkas were a really important part of our social life for a couple of summers, to the point where friends would know we had them in the car, and ask if they could get them out.  Or they would laugh at me and tease me about my trunk full of trucks.  Strangers would become friends, and as the kids would play, the parents would chat and usually find something in common, even if it was only that they both had sons who adored trucks. 

I didn’t pay much for any of these vehicles.  I got them all at either garage sales or second hand stores.  When we had no more room in the trunk for any more of these yellow and black beauties, I still found myself keeping an eye out for a bargain priced dump truck or digger, and mentally going through a list of kids who might want it.  

I’m posting this with keepers and treasures in mind.  Not because we will be keeping the trucks, but because I will always cherish the memory of a trunk full of Tonkas, and all that these trucks meant for us, for three years. 

By last summer, I knew it was time to take the trucks out of my car, but neither my son nor I could completely part with them just yet.  So, at some point we put them in to storage in Grandpa’s garage, and there they sit now. 

There’s a really cool park in Toronto, called Dufferin Grove.  It’s cool for many reasons, but one of the things I really love about it, is that it has toys there that are shared park toys.  People donate them, leave them at the park, kids play with them, finish with them for the day, and leave them there.  That is where I would like Noel’s Tonkas to end up.  To be used and enjoyed by lots of kids for a long time.  The trick this summer will be convincing Noel that this is a good place for his beloved trucks, that it is time to pass them on.  It might be a little hard for him, but I think he’ll be okay, knowing that they’ll bring pleasure to so many kids at one of our favourite places.


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