Littering in Public Parks: It's quite passé.

Photo by Texas Photo Wrangler |

During my 4 years working in public parks, I have often wondered why we are still dealing with illegal dumping and litter. Am I the only one that feels like we, as a society, should have been done with this idea by now?

I remember learning from quite a young age about not littering, and I would feel hugely embarrassed to be caught throwing something on the ground (Litterbug!). Yet, every summer day from 6am-2pm, I am cleaning parks and ridding them of whatever litter, abandoned household furniture, rusty car parts and dirty condoms may be lurking in the grass, on playgrounds or adorning historic sites.

I feel like the issue of littering is an old topic I’m bringing up, Haven’t we have all had a lecture or two about pollution? Why is it we still need to pay a city worker anywhere from $11-$26/hour to pick up discarded junk? Especially when the City of Hamilton offers free bulk pick up! (Check for the times and just put it out with your normal garbage). This is so much easier than lugging your couch to an open field, or anywhere else for that matter! This service eliminates any reason to abandon stuff in a park, which is unsafe, dirty and wastes taxpayer money.

I don’t mind cleaning up stray garbage that may have been dragged by racoons or blown out of a garbage can (after all, it is my job). However, when I see someone litter and walk away, it frustrates me to know that there are people that still don’t understand how to respect the environment in the simplest way.

So what do we do to combat this? Do we pick the discarded item up, whatever it may be, and duct tape it to their cars’ windshield? Would it even work, and should we point these people out? Should we make it socially embarrassing to throw garbage on the streets? Are the fines or repercussions not good enough? Does by-law need to reinforce more frequently?

I know that there are bigger and more pertinent concerns, but I’m worried about how we are going to handle the global, bigger picture problems when we can’t even tackle the individual, small scale, manageable ones. Have we forgotten about the litter, in light of bigger issues? Can we get over it? Let us know, for it is one issue that can’t go undiscussed.