After the Second World War, processed foods and affordable plastic goods saw a huge rise in popularity. During the post-war economic boom, consumers around the world increasingly purchased cheap goods and their consumption behaviours soon changed, for the worse. Most plastic items were so affordable they were now viewed as disposable, whereas before, more durably built items would be prized and utilized for longer periods of time. During the 1950’s many cities saw a dramatic increase in the amount of waste found in their streets. Littering was now becoming the norm around the world. The environmental impacts of these societal behaviour changes had yet to be seen.
Fast forward to the present day and we are slightly better at managing our pollution but we are still dealing with a variety of issues regarding the improper disposal of waste. Recycling programs have helped immensely but single-use items continue to pose a problem to our environment. Educational media campaigns advocating environmental stewardship have failed to influence the world population’s behaviours.
Until the world produces all consumer products and their respective packaging from fully biodegradable materials we will have to continue implementing effective waste disposal and recycling programs in our communities.
Advancements in plant-based plastics would help our situation but they are slow to arrive to market due to a variety of reasons; high research and development costs being a major barrier. For this reason and plenty others, the world is still years away from making a complete switch to bioplastics.
So, in the meantime, we must collectively do our best to keep our planet as clean as possible. And sometimes, that means picking up someone else’s trash.
The #trashtag challenge from years past had a simple mission. Find a green space (ie. parklands, beaches, roadsides, etc.) littered with garbage and post before and after pictures of the clean up. The results of that campaign were inspiring, to say the least. People from around the world happily participated in the challenge, posting shocking before and after pictures of parks and beaches that were in dire need of cleaning. Numerous green spaces were restored to their natural beauty. This was a challenge that everyone could get behind.
Unfortunately, all good things usually come to an end. After trending for a short while in 2019 the challenge lost steam soon after. But, you can still find social media posts using the same hashtag. So not all hope is lost.
Thankfully there are plenty of like-minded citizens, all over the world, that keep the spirit of this challenge alive.
r/DeTrashed is a great example of an online community on Reddit that supports these types of clean-ups. There, you will find many like-minded individuals sharing pictures of their local clean-up efforts.
We wholeheartedly support clean-up initiatives such as these no matter what name you want to use.
To commemorate this year’s Earth Day we at Dispensary Supply Canada decided to get out and clean up a small section of our neighbourhood; and help revive this worthy social media challenge. We hope you get inspired to do the same.
For this DeTrashing session, we equipped ourselves with some garbage bags and trash pickers and headed to a nearby section of railway track and road that was in desperate need of some attention. Since some of our staff walk near this area on a daily basis we decided it would be a good place to tackle.
SOME TIPS FOR DETRASHING:
1. Bring more garbage bags than you think you need. We started with 6 bags and ended up filling up 15 bags! It doesn’t look like much when it is all spread out, but it adds up fast.
2. Bring proper protective equipment.
• Closed-toed shoes without exposed areas will protect your feet from sharp objects and other hazards.
• Trash pickers are essential. Picking up trash with only your hands can be dangerous, dirty, and hard on your body. A good trash picker, whether it is a spike or grabbing tool, is necessary for effective DeTrashing.
• Gloves for sanitation and protection.
• High visibility clothing or vests are recommended when working roadside, or in high traffic areas.
• Hand sanitizer.
3. Broken glass and sharp objects should be gathered with proper tools like a dustbin and broom or a grabbing picker carefully. Sharp objects should not be thrown into garbage bags, they should be placed in a proper sharps container, or hard-walled trash or recycling receptacle.
4. Dangerous items or hazardous material should be left alone and reported to the city for safe removal.
5. Choose a sunny day! DeTrashing is a good deed and should be enjoyed as much as possible! Pick a nice day that will allow you to enjoy the time outside while you clean up your chosen spot. Heavy rains can make littered items heavy and harder to handle, so a dry day is ideal to get the biggest haul!
Over the course of three hours, the three of us gathered 120 kgs (~265 lbs.) of trash! We would have enjoyed cleaning the whole route to the nearby Skytrain station but we of course had to get back to work supplying our valued customers with quality cannabis packaging supplies. Sorry not sorry for the shameless plug.
The point we would like to make is this, whether you pick up one piece of trash or clean up a whole beach, in the end, any effort is commendable and should be encouraged by all.