- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Thanks to Owen Sound city staff who will be out May 9 on this “Provincial Day of Action on Litter” They are volunteering to pick up litter along the river and 800 blocks of 1st Avenue West and 1st Avenue East "to help beautify the River District and ensure waste is put in the correct receptacle”, according to the city's media release.

Litter is far from simply a "tsk! people these days" problem. Lots of the litter we pick up has already been in the correct receptacle at least once!

Our collective dependence on single-use containers and packaging is a big part of our problem, but here are some of the things that make it worse.overflowgull

  • a growing number of fast food outlets, and the ubiquitousness of big users of single use plastics, like Tim Hortons
  • the increased use of take-out since Covid
  • the lack of lidded garbage cans and recycling bins, and insufficent emptying
  • lack of deposit incentive for returnable bottles, cans and other containers (conservative Alberta has been doing this for decades)
  • businesses that do not take responsibility for securing or regularly emptying their garbage
  • gulls and other birds following available human garbage as their natural food source is changing
  • the higher number of high wind days. It's not your imagination -  David Phillips, retired senior climatologist for Environment Canada estimates a 10 to 15% increase in high wind days over the past decade or so.

Yes litter too is a climate change issue, including the fossil fuels used to make or recycle single use plastics. 86% of plastic waste ends up in landfill - only 9% of recyclable material is actually recycled due to contamination or being intentionally included in the garbage stream.Microplastics from degrading plastic and cigarette filters are increasingly appearing in air, soil and water samples, with few options for mitigation once there is such contamination.

The City is creating community clean-up kits with supplies to help groups wanting to pick up litter and will be available to borrow at no cost beginning in June. They are working on garbage removal options for litter collected by individuals and groups.

A good place to start? Don't use it. Or re-use it. Last choice - recycle what is recyclable in a wind-proof receptacle.

Check out Owen Sound Reduces and the Owen Sound Waste Watchers site for videos and more great ideas!



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