Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

April 10, 2012 10:30 a.m.  Weather: 12 degrees, Sunshine and Blue Skies  Findings: I picked from the south shore of the pond and picked up many plastic straws and packaging for snacks, a beer bottle thrown into the water and then resumed plucking plastic bags out of the water.  Personal items from the highschool slope were also picked up.  It’s interesting that the culture of garbage on that slope tells so much about the folk who are hanging out in that particular area.  I wish they would take some responsibility for cleaning it up.  I got such bad red ant bites on that slope last time I picked there, so I hesitate to work very far into that space anymore.

My One Bag of Pond Debris and a Few Responsible Coffee Drinkers' Discards

The geese stalked Max and I, the entire extent of our clean-up.  They didn’t appear to be bothered by us, but I sense that perhaps their nesting materials/area was nearby.

I Am Steward to This Place of Peace

The number of Tim Hortons coffee cups that I picked up this morning did not beat out the number that I found tossed into the bin…so, that was a first! 

I decided to hike over to the neighbouring Tim Hortons anyway.  I wanted to check in with the owner and see how his managerial meeting went, one where he was going to discuss my issues of litter with other franchise owners.  Gene wasn’t there, so I spoke to Kay Kuldeep (manager) who told me that she has sent clean-up teams to the parking lot across the road to pick up Tim Hortons waste…at least a couple times a week since I had visited.  I told her that I would recommend that they continue to do that.  As I left, I noticed the recycle/garbage bins are in obvious places, but I also noticed a large number of Tim coffee cups all over the median between traffic lanes. 

Three Sets of these, located on the Shawnessy Tim Hortons/Wendys Commercial Property

More work has to be done!  I left Gene my contact information and asked Kay to pass on my request for a follow-up communication.  I have to wonder what is in the psyche of human beings anymore, that we believe that it is ok to toss our garbage onto the earth, instead of depositing it, at the very least, into a waste bin?

Next, I went into the Shawnessy Home Depot.  I’ve looked over the Home Depot Sustainability report and community initiatives. 

Shawnessy Home Depot and Macleod Trail

I met with Gary, a new location manager, after perusing the surrounding space, some that edges on the lunch area for staff.  I’m including some of my archives here.  I spoke to Gary about the culture of the litter I am picking up daily at Frank’s Flats.  I told him the approximate percentage of materials that bear the Home Depot trademark.  I then asked him who has jurisdiction over the space that I had just photographed.  A very likeable guy, Gary responded that the City of Calgary is responsible for that space.  He also said that he was very happy that a week ago some city workers were out picking in the ditches, edging Macleod Trail.

Looking Toward the Store

I asked him, “Do you think that we should all be waiting for the City of Calgary to clean up our messes?”  Without hesitation, he responded, “I know what you mean.”

Must WE throw this onto the ground??

Then, he told me that this litter issue had come up at their last Managers’ meeting and that they intended to put together a team.  I said, “That’s a really good idea because all of that litter, once blown, will end up in the park where I am stubbornly picking, One Bag At a Time.”  He assured me that Home Depot is a big supporter of Habitat for Humanity and various other community initiatives. 

Or This?

I told him that I knew that.  BUT…you know what?  Tim Hortons sponsors the Calgary Pathway and River Clean-up.  Bishop O’Byrne highschool sponsors Feed the Hungry and Home Depot supports Habitat for Humanity!!  Does that absolve them from cleaning up their own mess?  Keeping their own lots clean?  Volunteering to be stewards of their own environment.  Again, Gary said, “I know what you mean.” 

Is this the City of Calgary's problem OR is it OUR PROBLEM?

I’ve asked to be invited to archive their first clean-up team and have been assured that I will receive a communication about when it’s going to happen in about a week’s time.  I’m looking forward to hearing from Gary.  I regret that I am posting these horrendous shots…one Home Depot location in our city…and I know that I will capture other locations in similar dire straits in my series called, Drive By (Photo) Shootings.  Stay tuned and ask yourselves, “How am I contributing to this problem?”


2 thoughts on “Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

  1. First of all, well done for continuing in your mission. Litter is just plain depressing ! But the underlying cause is in the attitude that we are able to just dispose of items. Even things deposited in the bin do not just ‘disappear’. The culture of using a drive through, consuming mindlessly and then tossing away the guilty evidence is a sad refelction of our society. It takes moments to pack a reusable cup and walk to the nearest Tim’s.

  2. I completely concur with you regarding the sense that all is disposable, even onto the ground. I’ve made my trip to our city’s nuisance grounds and I agree that most citizens have no idea WHERE their disposables go! In the meantime, I have such a concern for so many species who are being impacted by the inclusion of so many plastics into their habitat, that I am just attempting some kind of clean-up in a single location, for their well-being. More and more, I’m discovering that wildlife is adapting to our human waste…incorporating our garbage into their nesting spaces. Sheesh!

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