Cheryl’s top 6 back-to-school litter-free tips

Emilie gets down to business at Trace Manes.
Emilie gets down to business at Trace Manes.

In April I received an email from Emilie Chodat, a 16-year-old student who lives in Leaside. “I have read many of your articles on the trash littered around Trace Manes Park and many other parts of Leaside. I have always been frustrated by seeing all of the garbage polluting the planet and have made some effort to collect it. I was on an island in the Bahamas for March break, and one day my friend and I were walking along the road by the shore and noticed beer bottles, plastic bags, cigarettes, and dozens of plastic straws scattered along the water, and floating in the water. I turned back, went to the cottage we were staying in, got a few garbage bags, and spent an hour walking and picking up the litter. In the end we filled two large garbage bags. Seeing that appalled me. I would like to help make a change. Please let me know of any way I can help. It is our generation’s turn to step up and help make a change before it is too late.”

Emilie, thank you for writing and for inspiring this article! Here are six simple things that you (and everyone!) can do to keep Leaside green and clean:

1. Set an example by not littering and remind others to do the same.

I guess it all comes down to treating our community spaces like you would treat your own home and thinking WWMMS (What Would My Mother Say). If you take your lunch to school, make it litterless or boomerang the remains home. If you go to a local takeout spot, use their litter receptacles. If you’re watching a ball game at Trace Manes or Talbot Park and enjoying an ice cream or cold drink, use the litter receptacles rather than stashing your trash under the bleachers. If you play on a sports team, do a sweep of the dugouts and field before you leave. If you’re hanging with your friends in the school yard, don’t pitch and ditch your stuff. I think you get my drift. Littering is not cool.

2. Pick up one or two pieces of random litter each day.

When I’m out walking in the neighbourhood I bring a bag with me and pick up any lost litter souls I see. Today at the park I was joined by two children taking a lunch break from Pedalheads. As they were picking up handlebar streamers they told me that their coach biked through a pile of dog poop that morning. Funny and sad all at the same time.

3. Each week, pick up the litter in front of your house and along your street.

I usually do this the evening of garbage day as things can become a little messy when the receptacles are emptied.

4. Adopt a favourite green space and keep it litter free.

We are so fortunate that Leaside has a number of parks and hiking trails for all of us to walk, jog, bike and play. I take a walk about Trace Manes Park on Sunday evenings to pick up leftovers from weekend merriment.

5. Report litter issues to 311 or Councillor Burnside’s office.

The City can help by enforcing bylaws, adding additional waste receptacles and cleaning up as needed.

6. Reduce your use of litter-producing items like plastic beverage bottles, take-out coffee cups, Styrofoam and plastic takeaway food containers, single use straws, paper napkins, etc.

Drink our yummy City of Toronto water from a reusable bottle, get takeout coffee or tea in a reusable to-go mug and ask for a straw-less cold drink. Happy “plogging”!

About Cheryl Vanderburg 43 Articles
Cheryl Vanderburg writes the monthly column "Leaside Litterati." She is a local 'plogger' who combines her love of walking with picking up litter. She hopes to inspire all Leasiders to join this newest craze to stay fit and keep our neighborhood green and clean.