This morning, a group of Mount Pearl citizens are cleaning up the part of the Waterford River that runs through their city. They will find the expected: a full winter’s deposit of chip bags, fast-food waste, coffee cups, plastic bags and scores of other windblown waste working its way towards the sea.
But that’s only the beginning of what they’ll find.
Look in other rivers on the Northeast Avalon and you’ll see car tires, shopping carts, chemical dru
ms and garbage bags of household trash. Car parts. Furniture. Appliances.
More power to the people who are coming out to clean up, for those who answered the call to “meet at Mount Pearl City Hall to sign up and receive supplies (gloves and bags).” It will be messy work and, for a while, it will be an improvement to one of many waterways that flow through the province’s urban environment.
But the sad part is that it’s treating the symptom, not the disease.
From the micro to the macro, we’re still a bunch of slobs.
First, the micro: Friday morning, there was a Tim Horton’s cup, spilling coffee, dropped in the middle of the intersection of Forest Road and Empire Avenue. It was one of scores of items flicked out of car windows by people who couldn’t be bothered to walk as far as the nearest garbage can. One of the great ironies of our society? People are really careful not to be seen letting Fido poop without scooping, yet those same people seem to have no compunctions about waiting until no one’s in sight to flick those long-living plastic bags and their stinking contents into the nearest copse of trees, where they can live on far longer than a pile of dog poop ever would.
Then, the macro. On sideroads all around the northeast Avalon, there are thousands of pounds of trash dumped every year, ranging from bags full of disposable diapers to siding to containers of waste oil. It’s dumped in the woods, on beaches and over the nearest embankment. It’s in old quarries and in treed dips alongside parking lots. Last year, people driving into the city on one highway were treated to the standing symbolism of a white porcelain toilet, left standing just off the road, a perfect symbol of the way far too many people treat their waste and this province.
In recent years, the City of St. John’s has made it easier and easier to take materials to the Robin Hood Bay waste site. There are now different hours that are better suited to people with material to dump, and the drive is on pavement — no more tramping through the mucky, stinking fill on top of the waste site to unload your car, fewer dive-
bombing seagulls and far less of a chance for your tires to pick up stray roofing nails from someone’s load of discarded roofing shingles.
It should be getting better — yet it isn’t.
After caring citizens in Mount Pearl finish cleaning up other people’s trash, they’ll be treated to a barbecue — and they’ll make sure that every scrap of barbecue trash makes its way into a proper receptacle.
We thank them for their efforts — the only discouraging part is how much those efforts are needed.
Did you drop a cup today?
Shame on you.