With the myriad of ecological problems facing us in 2019 – extreme weather, depleted soils, habitat loss – litter may seem like a minor issue. So why is Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation focusing on litter with our #Pick5toThrive campaign, inspired by Earth Month?
It took digging into reports and statistics to understand how significant the impacts of litter are on Ontario’s waterways. According to a Science Daily report, an estimated 10 thousand metric tonnes of plastic make their way into the Great Lakes each year. That’s 22 million pounds of garbage! More than just refuse, this plastic contains contaminants and can degrade into microplastics, causing harm to ecosystems and wildlife. Not to mention that all this waste adds burden to our water processing infrastructure.
The Ontario Greenbelt includes watersheds, which draw fresh water from the Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine through a system of streams, wetlands and river valleys, into Lake Ontario. Litter in our valleys inevitably makes its way into the Great Lakes. The Greenbelt’s urban river valleys, which flow through densely populated regions, are at particular risk for accumulating litter and funneling it into Lake Ontario.
Like many environmental issues, the sheer amount of garbage in our waterways might seem too overwhelming to address. But if we each do our part, we can make a significant impact! There are a number of excellent initiatives, like Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and Communities with Brooms, working on this problem. I encourage you to join one and while you’re at it, post to our #Pick5toThrive campaign.
So how does #Pick5toThrive work?
- Participate in a community or individual clean up activity.
- Take a photo or make a video – share your clean-up on social media!
- Nominate and tag 5 friends on social media and encourage them to do the same.
All you really need are gloves and garbage bags but you can visit our #Pick5toThrive page for a full list of equipment.
From all of us at Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, we wish you a happy end to Earth Month and hope you will join us in #Pick5toThrive over the coming days and weeks.