Toronto‘s garbage strike has only been going on for a week now, but after yesterday’s gay pride parade and a weekend full of tourism, the streets are starting to fill up with garbage. As you can see by the picture to the left, most people ignore the signs asking to refrain from littering, and after a rainy day the gutters are full of it too. But what does extra garbage laying around mean to the everyday person? More than you might think.
For starters, what is all of this junk leaking into our soils? When there’s nowhere for the garbage to go, people will start dumping it anywhere, including green spaces in their own neighbourhoods. Even though it may seem like a long shot to find hazardous chemicals being dumped, something as simple as a CFL light bulb could mean mercury seeping into the ground. If you suspect anything hazardous has seeped into soil around your home or neighbourhood, be sure to contact the Ministry of Environment Spills Action Center (416-325-3000).
Harmful chemicals aside, we should really be asking ourselves where this garbage went before the strike. When there’s garbage pouring into the streets after only a week, it really shows the amount of disposable materials our city goes through. And how much of that is actually necessary? I would wager to say less than half.
While many people view the issue of the garbage strike as one about fair labour rates, we should really be speaking to the issue of living in a throw-away culture. Try and use this garbage strike as a way to learn more environmentally friendly practices. Make your own vermicompost (simple instructions here), or find uses for materials that you’d otherwise be chucking out. These small steps can add up, and it may just be this unfortunate event that can bring it to the attention of Toronto’s population.