Who Sat on That Lawn Mower? Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

April 17, 2012 9:30 a.m.  Weather: 3 degrees, chilly and grey.  I could have cried this morning when I drove over to the plot of land that edges the Shawnessy Home Depot.  It had been mowed.  No team had been assigned to pick the plastics and debris while the pieces were intact.  Patricia of the Escalation Department of the Home Depot,  in Atlanta, Georgia had informed me that the plot had been mowed…but yes, readers, you guessed it…they don’t know WHO mowed it.  I can’t imagine how the individual felt who had to sit on that mower and watch such a large amount of plastic be ripped apart…knowing full well, it would end up blowing into the pond across the road or littering miles of land to the south.  I spent a full hour picking up ripped pieces of plastic…materials that only days ago, were bags, boxes and packages.  These had blown from the road’s edge all the way down onto the slopes.

A trail of shredded plastic everywhere.

I was broken-hearted.  Whoever is responsible for this expedient ‘fix’, has had a negative effect on the surrounding area; environment AND wildlife.  Later, I will post the quantity of material specific to the mowed yard, collected on this one trip.

This is how the landscape has evolved…mowing over plastics and litter.

This film…the day I reported to Home Depot, my concerns for the surrounding environment.

This film…taken today.

It’s interesting that, in fact, plastics break down…but they just become smaller and smaller pieces.  If you can’t see the mess, you can pretend that it’s NOT there!  To prove a point, “Out of Sight/Out of Mind”, I’m posting a single photograph, without appropriate citation. I found it here.

Alberta Tar Sands/ Oil Sands

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. Tennessee Williams

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?”