Trash Walking

disposables, keepers, treasures

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?


Leave a comment »

Losing myself. My beach, my country, my responsibility.

It was a perfect morning for trash walking today at “my” park/beach today. Sun shining, autumn colours a bit past peak, but the trees are still stunning in their beauty. I was quite worried about what I would find at the beach, because it’s been over a month since I dedicated some time to it.There was not very much litter at all today, and I was really very pleasantly surprised. Maybe someone else has been picking up there. That would be good! Maybe people have been staying away from the park, but I sort of doubt that, because we have had some lovely weather lately. The kind of weather where we Ontarians head outdoors to “enjoy it while we can”, because we know that snow and cold are just around the corner. Maybe there was more than I could see, and the usual nasty bits of styrofoam, broken plastic and cigarette butts were just hidden under the beautiful covering of fallen leaves. Anyway, I got what I could see. Not even enough to fill my trusty bucket and bag today. Only took one trash photo, then took more of the beauty around me. Not that I’m complaining about not finding garbage. That is a good thing. It was a gorgeous morning. I enjoyed being out, listening to the waves, and loosing myself at the beach for a while. When I was finished picking up, I found a bench and did a little work on a zen doodle that I started earlier this week. IMG01562-20141028-1428
I thought about a terribly sad week in my country. Two soldiers killed, and I don’t understand why. I hope their families and loved ones find peace some day, and I hope that they rest in peace. Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincente, thank you for your service to Canada. This post is dedicated to you.

Leave a comment »

Follow up, links, and a call to action.


First, a follow up to my last post.  Not exactly about litter, but something to think about.  After a week of saving wasted food, here’s what is in the bin in my fridge.  I changed the rules a bit, because I realized that it wasn’t fair to my son to single out his waste.  That the experiment would mean more to all of us if we kept all of our wasted food, to see how we fared as a family.  Not great, but not bad for a week.  He definitely doesn’t like this experiment, and  is doing a much better job of eating his lunches, which is how this experiment came about in the first place.  The two chicken nuggets weren’t Noel’s waste, my wife just cooked a few too many.  We saved them to eat the next day, but they ended up being knocked on the floor by accident, so went in to the bin.  In our house, we do usually follow the “ten second rule”, but these were covered in cat hair, so the rule went out the door.  The raisin bread was totally my doing.  I toasted them, then got doing something else, and they were stale in the toaster by the time I remembered them.  I’m going to continue to keep a wasted food bin in my fridge, and see if we can go an entire week, without any deposits to the bin.  Quite eye opening, really.  Probably another follow up coming.

On another note, back to trash walking.  I continue to pick up litter daily, some days as a dedicated trash walking exercise, and other days while I am out and about, I pick up at least three pieces.  There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t retrieve something.  I am becoming more aware of others doing the same thing, and am “liking” Facebook pages dedicated to the same idea as my humble attempt at cleaning up and educating.  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is currently running a series on illegal dumping across our country.  Mind blowing and disgusting.  Here’s a link to the original story.  Follow their links to see a follow up story, as well as pictures sent from across Canada in response to it.

Canada is breathtaking in it’s beauty, I think we can all agree on that.  Trashing it is not only illegal, but unconscionable.  Thankfully there are many, many individuals and organizations out there who are tackling the problem of litter.  I have mentioned some of them in previous posts, and will do another post soon listing more.  In the meantime, here’s a Canadian group dedicated to cleaning the areas along the escarpment in Hamilton, Ontario.  Just down the highway from me, it is full of beautiful natural areas that are constantly being trashed.

Find other groups on social media, google “anti litter organizations” and you’ll come up with all kinds of information.  More importantly though, get out there and tackle the problem head on.  Pick litter up in your neighbourhood, get your family and friends involved too.  Talk about the problem and learn about initiatives where you live.  I’d love it if you’d post your litter pictures to my trash walking Facebook page.  Join me. Let’s do something together.  All it takes is to get started.

I’ll leave you with a few photos of what I’ve picked up recently, all from around the perimeter of my son’s school.

Happy Trash Walking all!


IMG01504-20141014-1521 IMG01505-20141014-1521 IMG01413-20141008-1522 IMG01405-20141006-1143

Leave a comment »

More on food waste…Rob Greenfield

After writing the last post about my little food waste experiment, it is a happy coincidence that I came across this article about food waste on Huffington Post today, by Rob Greenfield, Dude Making a Difference.

Rob is an activist who writes about his experiences riding from Wisconsin to New York City, while eating only from grocery store dumpsters.  The amount of food thrown out is absolutely staggering, and what he did with his finds is brilliant.  Rob’s call to action is simple.  Fight hunger by calling on grocery stores to stop throwing food out, to “Donate not Dump”

I urge everyone to take a look at Rob’s article.  It is an informative, eye opening piece that is sure to inspire conversation, and hopefully change.  Here’s the link:




Leave a comment »

A Thanksgiving Lesson (teaching my nine year old about food waste)

Besides my trash walking, I really am trying to live a greener life, and to teach my nine year old son Noel to do the same. I’ve made some pretty good strides overall, I think. I am a more conscious consumer, and he is too. He knows what the term “planned obsolescence” means, and understands why I really loathe SKYLANDERS. That’s a whole post on it’s own. Maybe some day.  Those who know me personally also know that Noel is a master at building toys from recycled materials.  A bit of a healthy obsession at the moment, and I love it, and that is also a whole other post.

But Noel wastes food with nary a thought, and it drives me crazy.  I really hate to waste food, for the obvious reasons and I want him to understand this, and to grow to hate wasting food too.  His excuse for school lunch is pretty much always the same. No time. While I do know that there really isn’t a lot of time to eat lunch at school, I don’t really buy this excuse, since he always has time for the snacks that are in his lunch kit. I’ve threatened not to send snacks, but worry that if I go that route,  he won’t eat anything all day at school.  I realized that ragging him about it each day was not doing either of us any good, so, I’m trying a wee experiment this week. I explained it to him, and started it yesterday.

Everything that Noel doesn’t eat during the day is going in to a plastic container which I’m storing in the fridge, and we are going to see how much is in there at the end of the week. He was not too happy about me putting his toast crusts in there yesterday morning, and guess what? He ate the crusts! Small victory? Maybe, maybe not. Here’s what came home from yesterday’s lunch.


Macaroni (KD to be exact.  If you aren’t from Canada, you won’t get this reference.  Don’t worry, it’s a Canadian thing). Weird, because he used to always eat a KD lunch right up. Maybe I gave him too much?   Maybe his tastes are changing? Either reason is fine, but I want him to tell me this so I know what to pack for him.  So I know what he will eat.  Anyway, I’ll take pics and post daily, and we’ll see if this new strategy works.

It is coming up to Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and more than anything, I want to instill in my son a sense of gratitude for all that we have in Canada.  For the most part, he gets it.  But I guess I hope that this experiment will drive it home a little bit more.

I wish you all a joyous and bountiful Thanksgiving, rich in love.  I am grateful that I live in Canada, and believe with all my heart that it is possible to heal the world with a little compassion and thought.



Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup…Gratitude.

With gratitude to all participants at Sunday’s Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, Richard’s Memorial Park, here is the letter I sent to the 125th Mississauga Guides, who joined the cleanup this year.

Dear Guides and Guiders
Thank you again for all of your efforts to clean Richard’s Memorial Park this past weekend.  The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is about individuals like you and I, taking action to care for our planet.  It is families, neighbours and communities coming together to make a difference.  As a former Guide myself, I know that these are some of the principles upon which the movement was founded, and I am proud of you.
I know it seemed like this particular park was quite clean, and compared to some clean up areas, I suppose it was.  But even in a seemingly clean park, we picked up a lot of litter!  Here are just a few of the totals:
Cigarette butts 103
Bottle Caps (plastic) 42
Cups and Plates (paper) 25
Straws 13
Food Wrappers 13
So you see, your time was well spent!
Please think about this litter as you go about your busy day to day lives at school, at guides and with your friends. Encourage others to do the same.  Talk about it, and “walk the talk”
There are two daily habits everyone can cultivate for the sake of our earth.  The first is to refuse single use plastics like water bottles, take out coffee cups, straws and grocery bags.  I know that you already have the bottle part down pat 🙂  The second habit is to “Take 3”, which means just what it says.  Wherever you happen to be, you are going to see litter.  That is a sad fact.  But, if we all resolve to pick up three pieces of litter a day, every day, what a huge impact that small act would make!  This is an idea which started with a group of people in Australia.  I read about it on line, and it seemed so simple to me!  I now practice this every day, and am doing my best to encourage Canadians to adopt the habit too.  You can find this group as well as many others on line, if you wish, and if you follow The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup you’ll see some amazing photos and hear stories of Canadians coast to coast coming together to clean up.  Or, finally, if you want to take a look at my blog which is mainly devoted to litter, it’s called Trash Walking.  I’m overdue to make a post, so probably will this week, and it is no doubt going to focus on Sunday’s cleanup.
Here are a couple of pictures from our clean up day.  I hope that you like them, and I hope that you all had a good time at the park on Sunday.

PS.  Please let me know where and when to pick up my cookies when they are in! 🙂

1 Comment »

Too Much Stuff…Lootbags and Keychains

We are programmed to believe it is proper social etiquette to provide a thank you gift in certain situations, and maybe sometimes it is appropriate.  Someone puts you up for a couple of nights in their home, maybe a bottle of wine or a house plant is in order.  Or maybe not.  Maybe a heartfelt, hand written thank you note really would be enough.

Pretty much any parent that I speak to bemoans the fact that their child has too many toys, too much stuff, and doesn’t appreciate what they have.  But the giving of loot bags at kids’ birthday parties is such a habit that we can hardly imagine not handing one out.  Bear with me folks, for loot bags are a bit of a pet peeve of mine at the moment.  The loot provided is definitely not needed, is often some sort of cheap toy from the dollar store.  It gets played with once or twice and then broken or forgotten.

I struggled with the issue of loot bags in August when we celebrated my son’s 9th birthday.  What to get that was relatively inexpensive, but not plastic?  I finally settled on t-shirts and fabric paint, and the kids painted them at the party.  I felt quite pleased with myself at the time, but really, looking back, the kids would have been fine without this craft/loot.  Truth be told, I doubt that even one of those kids has worn the t-shirt they made more than once, if at all.  Dollar stores, toys stores and big box family shopping type stores have whole sections devoted to the loot bag.  The aisles are full of cheap, cheerful, colourful toys and gizmos guaranteed to delight small kids.  The guest gifts are often accompanied by some sort of candy (that’s a whole other issue, isn’t it?) and, more often than not, the bag that holds all the loot is plastic.  I wish we parents could all get together and decide that loot bags are not obligatory!   Kids who have been doing the birthday party circuit for a few years now might feel ripped off at first, but they’ll get over it, right?   And if we start with the toddler crowd, and NEVER INTRODUCE THEM TO THIS LOOT BAG HABIT, we can wipe out loot bags within five to eight years, I figure.  What do you say, folks?  Are you ready to revolt against the loot bag?  Are you with me?

Even an organization dedicated to environmental stewardship, The Canadian Wildlife Federation, cannot resist the urge to give a thank you gift to it’s supporters. My father makes a yearly donation to them, and in return he receives a magazine (not sure how many issues, but it’s probably quarterly). The magazine would be enough (or too much!), but they also send a little key chain as a thank you.  My dad doesn’t need a key chain, and I’m sure that no one is making a donation in order to get a key chain.  Even if someone were to actually need a key chain and were to use it, I doubt that it’s use would in any way increase public awareness of a particular endangered species. My dad and I had quite a chat about this the other day when I was visiting. He had the trinket waiting for me on the kitchen table, and wanted to know if I needed a key chain.  I didn’t.  Had I not taken it with me, this little piece of plastic with a photo of two of  Canada’s most precious animals, would probably be sitting in his kitchen “junk drawer” by now.  Instead,  it is going to adorn my son’s backpack, where I guess it will stay until it breaks and falls off.  I can only hope that by the time someone finds it on the ground and puts it in their junk drawer, we will have collectively wised up and done something to break this addiction to things.


Does your home have a junk drawer?  Have a look in it right now and count the empty key chains in there.  How many?  Or look in your kid’s room and count the plastic do-dads that have come from birthday parties.  How many?  How many are still played with?

Something to think about, something to talk about, something to change?



Local Hero (Heroic Garbage Pickers part 2)

Those of you who know me personally know that I’ve been trash walking for a while now, and following the pages of some really great organizations that are focusing on the problem of (mainly) plastic trash.  These individuals and organizations are both large and small, with a few followers, or many.  They try to create a strong on-line presence in order to raise public awareness of the harmful environmental impact of our addiction to disposables.  A previous post entitled “Heroic Garbage Pickers”, lists five of the pages I follow.  I comment on their posts, share some of them on my own Trash Walking Facebook page, and answer their calls to write letters when needed.  Someday soon, I’ll highlight a few more of these great organizations.

Today, though, I want to salute a local woman who is probably a familiar figure to those of you who live in my beautiful neighbourhood of Port Credit.  She walks along Lakeshore Road, near the Credit Landing Plaza, or near Maple, Pine, John, and Peter Streets.  She is what we would describe as elderly, I guess.  But she is certainly energetic!

I’m sure you’ve seen her, strolling along, stooping over to pick up bits and pieces of garbage, and putting them in public trash bins, where they belong.  She’s always on her own, always out there.  I don’t know if she is on dedicated garbage walks, or if she is picking up in the spirit of Take 3, as she goes about her daily business.  I doubt if she has an online presence.  From her appearance, she doesn’t strike me as someone who would be particularly involved in that form of communication.  She probably doesn’t talk about what she does, probably doesn’t take pictures of what she picks up, or keep a count of the garbage she has pulled from the streets.  She probably doesn’t rail against plastics or disposables or balloons.  She may or may not have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  But she is out there, and she is doing something.  She is an example for us all.  Her actions tell us to do something, however small, because it really does make a difference.

I stopped to thank her one day, when I saw her out picking up trash.  Introduced myself and told her that I also do what she was doing.  I asked her name, and she told me it was Grace.  Then she smiled and said that a friend calls her Amazing Grace.

Thank you, Grace.  You are amazing!

Local friends, make sure to say hi and thanks to Grace if you have the chance.  She deserves it.

There are most likely thousands of Graces out there, doing this very same thing.  Say thank you to them, and honour them by picking up three pieces of garbage every day, as you go about your daily business.  Then you too are heroic, and you too deserve thanks.


(the above photo is by way of The Pieces Fit)




Leave a comment »

Grand Total


675 of these suckers collected!

Leave a comment »

Seeing Red…I Thought I Was Finished

With the busy first few weeks of school behind us, I took some time to myself yesterday to head over to “my” beach and get some cleaning done.

I have not been there since August, so I was expecting it to be really, really bad.  Not quite as much debris as I expected, but I still ended up filling my bucket.  Mostly the usual small bits of styrofoam and plastic, straws, utensils, a comb, various drinking bottles and coffee cups (Timmies, of course.  We’re in Canada, eh).  Also two needles, a weird filter looking thing, a length of four dog poop bags that had been accidentally dropped by one of the dog loving locals, a paratrooper who was missing his legs and his chute, one red balloon, one child’s beach shovel, also red.  Red flower petal.

My haul looked like this when I was finished.  IMG01324-20140912-1145

When I trash walk, it is usually the colour of something that I first notice.  The blue piece of candy wrapper in contrast to the brownish shades that make up the sand.  The white of a styrofoam cup against the green of the shoreline vegetation.  Purple lighter, orange bottle cap, yellow bag, blue paratrooper. I figured the colour of the day was red yesterday, since I found the balloon, shovel and flower petal all in the same area, at the same time.  I had no idea how right I was!

When I finished my day’s walk, and disposed of the trash properly, I decided to grab a bench for a few minutes, to sit and enjoy the silence of the park.  I thought I was finished, I really did!

But this is what the area in front of the bench looked like IMG01326-20140912-1153IMG01334-20140912-1225 And this is what the field behind the bench looked like.

Pretty right?  At first glance I thought they were red leaves.  We are expected to have an early autumn here in Ontario, after all.  Except the trees in this area are willows.  Their leaves don’t look like this!  Okay, red flower petals.  There was some sort of a celebration here recently, and these flower petals were scattered.  How lovely.  No.  Not lovely at all!  These petals are some sort of cheap synthetic material (nylon?)  they were everywhere, and there were a lot of them!  The colour of the day was most definitely red!

I bent over, I don’t know how many times, and picked up each and every one of these damn things.  I wanted to stop at one point, because I was feeling a tad overwhelmed by how many were still on the grass after 15 minutes of picking.  I was getting really hungry too, and just wanted to go home for lunch.  But, I like to finish what I’ve started, so I kept going.

I was thrilled when a city maintenance truck pulled into the lot and proceeded to unload their grass cutting machinery.    They would have a rake that I could borrow, and would be happy to lend it for such a good purpose.  Hell, they might even come help me.  No such luck, I’m afraid.  What kind of a park maintenance truck doesn’t have a rake on it for goodness sake?  Curses!   On I went.  Bend, pick, pick, pick, curse.  Bend, pick, pick, pick, curse.  Bend, pick, pick, pick curse. I was silently cursing the makers of these things, the throwers of these things,  and the maintenance guys for not having a rake!

As with most litterers, whoever threw these petals didn’t give a thought to nature or our earth, or the impact of their actions.  By the way the petals were scattered, I’m quite certain that the act was a way of marking an occasion or honouring something or someone.  A beautiful act.  But there is no beauty in fake red flower petals.  Throwing them is no way to honour anyone or anything.  The fake-ness cheapens and degrades the point of the act, I think, and ultimately just leaves a mess for someone else to clean up.

Throwing real flower petals?   Absolutely.  That is a beautiful act.  Do that instead.  Please.

I brought the whole bag of petals home with me, so I can count them.  Crazy?  Maybe.  But I just have to know.  I’ll share the number when I have it






What do you love about your city?

Mama Librarian

Thoughts from a brainy, bookish mama

Old Owl Hoots

Crown Hill Park in Jefferson Co Colorado

Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

Welcome to the Anglo Swiss World

Brooklyn Doodle

Napkin Doodles around the Neighborhood and Beyond

Writer, editor, etc.

I make sure that your work is world class.


A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Aiming to be Green

Appreciating and protecting the Earth for future generations....

Bob and Emily

Live, laugh, love......and enjoy every minute

A Little Bit Of Happiness

I share stories about happiness, the same kind most people overlook

Kevin Paterson

Author And Music Blogger

Travel Moments

Adventure and Affordable Travel