Oh boy, here’s a rant about the perils of living in a tourist area. Last night I chatted with my brother Paul on Messenger. Our conversation ended with my summary before we signed off — ‘We live in a world where people don’t believe there are consequences for their actions.‘
I live in an area, central Ontario, known casually as Cottage Country, whose major industry is tourism. I used to be a cottager, now I’m a full-timer. So what has that got to do with garbage and consequences, you ask?
It’s all in the garbage. Spring is a time we see all the stuff abandoned at the side of the roads before winter, and there is a noticeable increase in paper coffee cups, bottles, cans, construction left-overs, green garbage bags that are no longer allowed at the dump — only clear, fast-degrading bags now — discarded along the curbs, floating in the lakes, washed up on beaches. A trip to the dump itself shows just how ignorant people can be. Bags of garbage left at the gates, plus illegals like paint cans, non-biodegradables, appliances, and all other assorted you-name-its. I can only guess that the dump hours of operation aren’t convenient enough for these delinquents (dawn till dusk, 7 days a week), or, it’s too much work to drive into the dump, get out of the car and place their sorted garbage in the appropriate bins.
And then there is the ongoing debate about what to do with the sheer volume of garbage created in our little community. And, we are tiny, with a permanent population of around 10 Last election it was quite the issue. Some claimed, not a problem, just plow under what’s there and open new sites — we have thousands of acres of empty land and forests. Except, most of this area is Canadian Shield, with a narrow skim of earth covering sheets of rock. Farm the stuff out was another suggestion. Okay, but where? Nobody wants to deal with their own garbage, let alone ours. Build an expensive processing plant to burn it. Hmmmm, might work, except the tax base in our community area is pretty meagre — just not enough population. So, the whole issue gets pushed to the back burner and we keep on dumping, in the landfill sites, on the roads, in the water.
A couple of solutions are in practice. Businesses, Cottage Associations and individuals have embraced the Adopt-a-Road plan. They spend hours picking up garbage littered along the sides of the roads, the areas they themselves have ‘adopted’. The county has implemented an aggressive recycling policy, and as mentioned above, wet garbage is accepted in clear plastic, recyclables to another bin, paper and cardboard, building products, etc. to appropriate sectors of the landfill.
We’ve all heard the suggestions for composting, demanding less packaging, returnables, recycling, buying used and so forth. But is it enough? The mess along the sides of our roads, and yes, it does increase dramatically during the summer months in proportion, I suspect to the swelling seasonal population, appears to worsen each year as landfills become more militant in what they will and won’t accept. We live in a disposable society. If we don’t see it after it’s flushed down the toilet, left in the landfill, tossed at the side of the road, we don’t seem to care. We keep buying new, throwing out the old. The consequence of our out-of-site garbage problem is as hidden as the refuse itself, so why should we care enough to take action?
Our attitude in this disposable society we’ve created is sluggish, messy, careless, just like our garbage issues. It’s easier to shrug off or leave at the gates, put off until for a future election, ignore, or throw away. In the meantime, it slumbers and grows around us, beneath our feet, in our water tables, under the brush in our forests, waiting for us to finally grasp the consequence of this dreadful mess.
— keep composting and recyling &mdash wen