World Environment Day 2018

Harlequin Maple - Robert Slivchak

Make Burlington beautiful! In an effort to prepare for World Environment Day 2018, I have planted a Harlequin Maple Tree. Meet “Harley”. He was planted over the past weekend, so I would be able to spend more time picking up plastic rubbish this year.

Like everyone else this year that participated in World environment Day, I pick the plastic trash out of Mother Nature’s grip, that’s doing everything she can to manage it but… she’s getting pretty tired. I stumbled upon a lot of trash that may or may not have initially been properly disposed of, but ended up there unintentionally. Some was more obvious that ignorance was to blame for it’s place among nature. The tied off bags of dog feces, fresh paper Tim Horton’s coffee cups on a park trail or the plastic bottles full of urine left near a curb. I filled my bag and it felt great, though it felt insufficient at the same time. This trash is here, I’m picking it up, but in a few weeks it will be back because unfortunately this type of human behaviour doesn’t just change. A conversation needs to be started. Is it okay to ask a someone who’s littering “Why do you think that’s appropriate?” or be more assertive without inviting dialogue by saying “Hey, put that in the garbage.”? I have tried a few lines, some unfortunately aggressive because I’m frustrated, some not. All met with a mix of the same response of indifference, anger that they were caught and maybe a touch of embarrassment but still the need to stand their ground. If you contact me I can share a few stories. I like to think that the efforts of those that have the same goals as I do, is going to help people change, if not at least make people think a little differently. However, there will always be those that simply could not care about anyone or anything else, other than themselves. We all know someone like this. Good thing there are more of us to make up for them.

I mentioned that my efforts today felt somewhat insufficient. This feeling stems from the title of today’s event “World Environment Day”. In my opinion, the word “Day implies that this is only something that should be done once a year and I don’t agree with that. If we are actually going to take the state of the environment seriously this has to be a serious commitment. This has to be a mindset that we have on a daily basis. Whenever you see litter, pick it up. If you see someone littering and don’t want to run the risk of coming across as confrontational, still pick it up. If person littering sees you picking it up, great!

Though I will participate in the World Environment Day every year, I also feel that having this type of a world event on a specific day if counter intuitive. Here in Canada, if the event was in April, the trash is exposed and easy to spot because the new spring growth has not started yet. June, not so much, making a proper cleanup is a lot more difficult. There is also a greater concern of ticks and contracting Lyme disease.

It’s awesome that we have this day to raise awareness, though let the momentum of this day continue throughout the rest of the year. Make the rest of the year your “World Environment PROJECT” and share your story often.