If you’ve ever come across a mattress dumped in an alley, a tinsel-strewn Christmas tree on the pole line, or a trashed campsite in the woods, you’ve probably felt puzzled.
It is hard to understand the thinking that leads to such acts of nature-vandalism. This is especially the case when so many other options for free recycling, composting, repair and donating exist in BC.
Whether it’s a disconnect from nature that results in ignorance, or the product of blatant disregard, litterbugs choose to use nature as a garbage can. Because of their choices, illegally dumped trash is a reality we navigate as a community.
One of the responses to this reality has also been at the level of the commons: regional collection events powered by volunteers and funded by taxpayers. Such events have been cancelled over the past few years and efforts continue by a noble few.
There are the ditch trash pickers, the kids picking up litter in family scavenger hunts, and hikers moving trash to trail heads. Some folks are even orchestrating their own dumpsite cleanups and taking the disposal costs on themselves as a gift to the community and local ecology.
Others are using technology to bookmark sites while they’re out and about exploring.
The TrashOut.me phone app allows users to record dumpsites they see when they’re out in otherwise pristine surroundings. Photos of dumped materials are uploaded and GPS coordinates automatically recorded. These coordinates become a pinpoint on the TrashOut map and a quick checklist of the type of materials and accessibility of the site flesh out the details. Anyone with the app can hover over pinpoints and choose to go clean it up.
In qathet Regional District (qRD), the well-loved annual Trash Bash illegal dumping collection event went on pause for another year. Fortunately, there are a few new free disposal options emerging.
Groups and individuals are being invited to clean up illegal dumpsites, trails and beaches and bring materials collected to Augusta Recyclers (7346 Highway 101) on Saturday, August 21, between 8 am and 5 pm. It is a one-day event for illegally dumped waste only, and so it excludes any household trash.
Members of the Let’s Talk Trash team will be at the transfer station to cheer on community volunteers who cared enough to clean up other people’s messes. Those who are keen to participate but can’t attend can still get involved.
Free disposal is also available for illegally dumped trash by applying for a waiver from the regional district through the Let’s Talk Trash team (info@LetsTalkTrash.ca). Once approved, trashy heroes are issued a paper waiver that is submitted to Augusta staff on the day of drop off.
Trashing our environment results not only in an eyesore, but can also be a dangerous source of pollution and lead to wildfires.
Anyone with information regarding individuals who are dumping materials illegally can contact conservation officers at the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) hotline at 1.877.952.7277. Priority is placed on situations where hazardous materials are involved and where wildlife and their habitats are being placed at risk.
Our thanks goes out to all who continue to make the extra effort to clean up others’ trash so we can all enjoy a safe and consistently jaw-dropping coastal community.