Community cleanups are a great way to connect with neighbours and take action to protect our environment. But cleaning ups aren’t enough - we need to change the system that caused the pollution in the first place.
In April, dozens of community cleanups will be held in Toronto. Whether you’re organizing a cleanup in your community, or simply participating, there are some simple things you can do to highlight the problem of single-use plastics and keep the pressure on decision-makers to act.
A solution to litter: turn off the plastic tap
From parks to ravines, to city streets, you don’t have to look far to see litter. You may have noticed that the vast majority of litter is single-use products and plastic designed to be useful for just hours or minutes. This litter is a symptom of a bigger problem: companies are producing too much single-use plastic and packaging, and a lot of this is hard to recycle or ends up in our environment.
To really stop plastic pollution, we need to turn off the plastic tap.
We need to get our government to pass laws to reduce and eliminate the most problematic wastes and get companies to take responsibility for what they design and profit from. That’s why many levels of government are looking at laws to ban or restrict types of single-use products. That includes Toronto!
HERE ARE TEA'S TIPS FOR YOUR COMMUNITY CLEAN UP
1) Invite your Councillor to attend your community cleanup
You can invite your City Councillor to attend your community cleanup. Even if they don’t attend, it’s great for them to know how many cleanups are happening in their ward! (Find your City Councillor’s contact info here.)
Right now, the City of Toronto is looking at regulations and by-laws to reduce single-use plastics - including black plastics, cutlery, plastic bags and take out containers. Staff are reviewing the results of the first round of public consultation in the fall, and preparing for the next round of public consultation this summer. Let’s let our City Councillors hear that Toronto is ready, and that we want them to move quickly on this issue.
2) Document what you find and how much of it is single-use items
Document what you find - count it, weigh it or photograph it to show the scale of the problem. You can also document some of the items that are currently being reviewed by the City - hot and cold drink cups, straws, cutlery, plastic bags, black plastics, and take out containers.
We’d love to see what you found! Tag TEA (@TOenviro) or email us some of your photos (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ABOVE: Here’s a great sign we saw along the Toronto Railpath that highlights the problem.
3) Engage other participants at your community cleanup
Engage people at your community cleanup and channel their frustrations about litter into changing our system. Whether you’re an organizer, or a participant, you can chat with others at the event about why you’re taking note of the problem waste, and that you think this problem can be prevented with better regulations, like those passed in other cities.
4) Share what you found with your Councillor and your community:
After documenting what you found, you can share it on social media: Use the #CleanTogetherTO hashtag and help generate buzz about restricting and eliminating single-use packaging that is choking our green spaces. Tag your Councillor (look them up here and then find their Twitter handle).
Share your photos and a message with decision-makers. Both the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario are looking at how they can act on single-use plastics. Help localize this problem for them and show them their constituents want to see action. You can share photos from your cleanup, highlight how much of what you found was single-use items, and tell them you want to see action that eliminates and restricts single-use plastics and holds companies accountable for what they produce.
From April 26th to 28th, Torontonians will Clean Toronto Together. Let’s take it one step further and advocate together!