Vancouver's green image tarnished by tonnes of fireworks trash

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

59 comments


Annual fireworks show results in tonnes of garbage being strewn on Vancouver's beaches

It’s that time of the year again when tens of thousands of Vancouverites descend upon the West End to enjoy Canada’s largest free family fun event. The Celebration of Light fireworks in English Bay has become a must see for both tourists and locals alike and over the last 20 years it has become a huge success – with a couple of notable exceptions.

When it comes to turning a profit, the fireworks festival has yet to find a good business model that will allow it to secure long-term financial stability.  As a result, Vancouverites collectively hold their breath every year and hope that another top-tier sponsor will come in and save the day. The fireworks were actually canceled once, only to be restarted again after a major sponsor was secured.

As for the environmental side of the Celebration of Light...well it really seems to be lacking a good strategy. No, I’m not talking about the environmental impact of blowing off hundreds of pounds of explosives each night. I’m referring to the tonnes of garbage that is left behind by fireworks patrons every night after the show. Images of thousands of plastic cups, plates and refuse strewn all over Vancouver’s primary beaches must clearly put a dent in Mayor Gregor Robertson’s efforts at branding his city as the greenest in the world.

How is it the Mayor regularly boasts about Vancouver being the greenest city in the world, yet an event like the Celebration of Light instantly transforms English Bay into our own version of the Cache Creek landfill ? I can’t help but think how images of garbage-strewn beaches transmitted around the world on YouTube can be extremely damaging to Vancouver’s long-standing brand as a clean and green city. If so, why is this Mayor and the city doing so little about it? Other than sending in the troops to clean up early in the morning.

Juxtapose this against the 2010 Olympics where you barely saw any trash on the ground during the 17 days of the Games. This is despite the fact there were hundreds of thousands of people pouring into the downtown every day. I believe you can credit this to a coordinated trash pick-up plan and the influx of hundreds of temporary clear garbage bags attached to light standards throughout the core area. In other words, where there is a will, there’s a way to keep Vancouver clean.

If Gregor Robertson and his Greenest City Action Team are serious about wanting to make a real environmental impact, why are they not doing more to reduce the amount of garbage that will appear on our beaches tomorrow morning? Here are a few suggestions GCAT may want to consider implementing after they’ve finished advocating for more curb-side vegetable gardens and backyard chickens:

  1. In 2011 they should implement a city-wide media campaign weeks in advance of the fireworks advising fireworks patrons that “green” cities don’t turn their clean beaches into sewer piles overnight. Public awareness is key to successfully reducing the amount of garbage left behind. During the 2007 labour dispute the public were advised that garbage workers weren’t going to be there to pick up after them and it helped to dramatically reduce the amount of refuse left on the beaches.
  2. The engineering department should immediately re-install the hundreds of temporary garbage and recycling receptacles close to and on the beach. If people have to walk more than about 25 feet to throw away their garbage, it's more likely to end up on the street and our beaches.
  3. Similar to the "blue coats" during the Olympics, Vancouver should recruit hundreds of “green” volunteers to inform the public each night that they should take home what they brought with them. Perhaps the city should start by targeting their volunteer recruitment efforts with the hundreds of cycling advocates who also claim they are concerned about the environment. Instead of participating in Critical Mass one month they could consider becoming a Greenest City volunteer. These volunteers could also engage citizens on the need to bring with them recyclable cups, plates etc...to the beach rather than disposable items made of plastic. The amount of carbon heavy single-use plastic containers left in the trash bins and in the public realm is simply shocking in a city that claims to be so enviro-friendly.
  4. City by-law officers, firefighters and other city employees should be patrolling the beaches (similar to during the Olympics) in their bright "green" vests watching out for people violating the litter law. Given the severity of the problem every night, clearly some increased enforcement is in order.

Implementing these concepts would be a good first step in cleaning up our beaches and maintaining our green image, but they don’t replace common sense and courtesy. If Vancouver wants to be known as a green city, a lot more needs to be done by this council and our community at large to reduce the amount of garbage we leave behind in the West End each night of the fireworks. As for now, I’ll be watching the newscasts tomorrow morning to see just how green and into recycling Metro Vancouverites really are.

- Post by Daniel
 

59 Comments

I know it's not 100% of the garbage pile, but I submit the following proposal:

If not by tradition and common practice, then by law, Vancouver's sushi restaurants should:

a- Use more sustainable packaging, stuff that's recyclable or compostable.

b- Behave more like cafés, where it's up to you to take cream, sugar, stir sticks, and lids from a post-order counter or shelf, as necessary.

c- Encourage and reward customers who bring their own containers when they pick up take-out orders.

Starbucks doesn't automatically give you sixteen sugar packets and four stir sticks, so why do sushi places throw the equivalent in soy sauce and chopsticks in the bag, whether you need it or not? Sometimes it's handy, but if you're headed home, it's just a lot of junk. Whose home or office fridge isn't full of unused soy sauce packets? If you're headed on a picnic, then grab them (and dispose of them properly). So many of these get chucked unused; I imagine that your average sushi place could probably reduce their monthly order of condiments, napkins, and chopsticks by at least a third if they did things this way.

For what it's worth, I regularly use my own containers and my local sushi place is super accommodating about it (not sure if they're laughing with or at, but they do accept it). It's certainly nice to finish off a big sushi dinner without a mountain of styrofoam to show for it.

This is a really easy win, so in the non-partisan spirit of this blog, I'd say it'd be a visionary step towards making Vancouver the greenest city in the entire universe!

Since the event has been around for twenty years and there's only been two Vision mayors in that time (and six NPA mayors) isn't the real question "Why does the current mayor have to clean up after his predecessors who had numerous opportunities over two decades to find a solution?"

As for the idea that a few hundred volunteers (from any segment of society) might somehow successfully have any impact on the thousands of people leaving their trash behind on unlit beaches is just so ludicrous it beggars description.

You want to go to the beach and hector people about bringing a reusable cup and plate to the beach Daniel? Go for it. Lead by example. Wear a helmet and jockstrap. You'll need 'em both.

Kee-rist, if the mayor actually did do something about the issue you'd accuse him of wasting taxpayers' money instituting a nanny-state.

No wonder so few people are willing to throw their hat into the political ring. Who needs the aggravation of petty-minded nabobs of negativity constantly chirping from the sidelines about how they'd do it better?

Articles like this aren't the solution. They're the problem.

It's actually "nattering nabobs of negativity"

If you're going to channel Spiro Agnew at least get the quote right.

Chris, you must have stopped reading after the first paragraph. Because if you had read the whole thing, you'd realize that the article primarily offers up a few suggestions for Council to consider in the future to combat the horrible littering problem at this event every year.

And besides, Gregor is currently the Mayor of Vancouver, so, it kind of makes sense that the suggestions would be directed to him and the current Council, not the last Mayor and Council. There are plenty of bloggers and writers out there still blaming Sam Sullivan and the NPA for every little problem, I don't expect this blog to pile on.

There goes pissy chrissy again blaming everything on the NPA. Yawn, how boring and repetitive. I don't think Sullivan or Campbell ran on a platform of the greenest city. Or did I miss something?

That's why your mayor moonbeam is held to a higher level of accountability. Nobody expects Robertson to fulfill the goals of Ecodensity, cause he didn't run on that platform. But I think people expect him to prevent our beaches from being turned into open air dumps.

We learned a lot from the Olympics that we didn't know a year ago. Now let's see if our so called green mayor can put some of those learnings into action.

Bill:

Well aware of the quote thanks. Some of us are capable of more than transcription.

Tom:

I read the whole article. I think some of the suggestions aren't workable. Hence my comments.

Eric:

Gee, never heard that one before. Don't make go all Cyrano on you and deliver a host of better ways to poke fun at me. Sheesh. Twenty years of fireworks. Six NPA mayors. Two Vision. Pretty sure all of them were anti-littering. All of a sudden it's Robertson's fault. Give me a break.

Two Vision governments? If I recall, wasn't Larry Campbell elected by the voters as a COPE mayor? Hmmm. I guess all you visionistas have forgotten that little bit of history.

Chris, you sure sound whiney on this blog. When you make statements like "No wonder so few people are willing to throw their hat into the political ring. Who needs the aggravation of petty-minded nabobs of negativity constantly chirping from the sidelines about how they'd do it better?" you reveal a sillier side of yourself.

What do want, everyone to sit by and just take our lumps with the vision government that we can no longer stand (even if we may have voted for them). Not in your lifetime.

I recall vision attacking Sam when he was in government. And Sam attacking Larry when he was in government. I think Webster's calls it democracy. Something that most vision kool aid drinkers seem for forget still exists in Canada. Stop all your whining and read all the suggestions listed above. They may not all be workable, but at least someone is putting out some alternatives.

Okay, then what are your suggestions for reducing the amount of litter in English Bay after the fireworks if you don't feel any of the ones in this article are workable? Or do you think it's already being handled well they way it is?

@chris. "Who needs the aggravation of petty-minded nabobs of negativity constantly chirping from the sidelines about how they'd do it better?"

Interesting statement. Sounds to me a lot like councillors Heather Deal and Raymond Louie when they were in opposition. Didn't they blame Sullivan for global warming, two tsunamis, an earthquake in Chile, a solar flare and a malaria outbreak in Africa?

I think Vision's elected officials were throwing alot of mud the NPA's way during the last term. Chris, why weren't you outraged when your boys and girls were doing the mud slinging? Oh yeah. It's okay if Vision does it. Puleeeeese give me a break, your hypocrisy is simply too much for us all to take. Have a great night at the fireworks.

"Okay, then what are your suggestions for reducing the amount of litter in English Bay after the fireworks if you don't feel any of the ones in this article are workable?"

Sadly, I think it is very nearly an un-fixable problem. Every single mass event I've ever seen left a mountain of waste after it was over. Check out the final scenes of the old documentary on Woodstock. 40 years later and still the same problem. I think deputizing an army of volunteers to try to enforce anti-littering bylaws would bring a host of problems with issues such as liability, etc.


The only answer IMO is probably the one we have in place now. Send down City works crews to clean up after the party.

"Chris, you sure sound whiney on this blog. you reveal a sillier side of yourself."

Sure, entirely possible. I can live with that.

"There goes pissy chrissy again blaming everything on the NPA."

Bullshit. I didn't blame anybody. I just pointed out the mess could be left at any mayor's feet for the past two decades.

@Chris. "The only answer IMO is probably the one we have in place now. Send down City works crews to clean up after the party."

Now that's true "vision" for you folks. More of the same, oh how lame.

What's your solution Eric?


Whereas, we are told we are striving to be the "greenest" city, and;

Whereas, as evidenced by the garbage left behind at all major events, as well as on "ordinary" days by an apparently piggy citizenry who obviously expect to be picked up after(and I just have to throw it out there that when I was a younger tyke a decade or two ago, I am positive that we didn't see this kind of trash--or perhaps people were more mindful of finding a bin or taking it away with them?);

Be it noted that I am scratching my head as to how we will get anywhere near the lofty goals as set out by the Zero Waste Challenge.

CKNW reports on the fireworks trash aftermath this morning. This is what I just found on their website:

THE WORLD IS THEIR TRASH CAN
Fireworks Fans Leave the Refuse Behind
Nafeesa Karim
7/22/2010

Obviously, not everyone got the 'take your trash with you' memo before heading to the fireworks last night.
English Bay beach looked like a garbage pit this morning following the big party.

The fresh ocean breeze was replaced by the stench of garbage.Pizza boxes, drink cups, water bottles and plastic bags were strewn everywhere. Crews were out early with a truck to suck up the trash.They got some help from can collectors and hungry seagulls looking for food.

I'm glad you have weighed in Daniel (I'm assuming you are the same Daniel that wrote the article).

Can you point me towards any Youtube videos showing the beaches covered in garbage after the fireworks? I did a couple of searches using various terms and couldn't find any.

Also, it seems to me that what you are suggesting is a large-scale media campaign and volunteer effort to move garbage 25 feet (about 13 paces). Don't you think it's just easier, simpler, and cheaper to sweep the beach afterward? At least this way the binners DO have the opportunity to reduce the garbage going into the waste stream before it all ends up in the landfill. What you are suggesting in your article would (IMO) probably create more waste, by not giving bottle-pickers an opportunity to pick through the waste before it all goes in the back of a garbage truck.

@chris. Are you kidding? Surely you're not advocating that everyone come down to the West End and dump their trash all over the beaches. Have you consulted with the residents of the West End about that one?

I happen to think a more progressive and green approach would be to have people recycle as much as possible while reducing what they use. Furthermore, how about actually encouraging people to take home the trash they brought to the beach in the first place. I'm astounded that you believe telling people to come down to the beach and dump their trash where they want is the solution. Don't forget that the beaches aren't the only place people dump trash. Check out what most of the main and side streets look like as well. Not so pretty.

During the 2007 labour dispute the community did step up to the plate and the beaches were almost pristine the following morning. Why do you believe this shouldn't be the goal?

As for YouTube, are you advocating that we wait for someone to post it up then deal with the PR aftermath? I think a dose of preventative medicine could go a long way here. Chris, I'm disappointed in you, I somehow thought you were more progressive than your last comment demonstrated.

Of course I'm not suggesting people leave their garbage behind. Please don't misrepresent my comments. What I'm questioning is the efficacy of the solution you're suggesting.

@ Chris
daniel has a point, during the 2007 strike the beaches were pristine because of the volunteers. During the Olympics we had control of refuse.
It doesn't matter who is in office, that is a strange argument that you present, because the expertise came from the Olympics, we paid advisers from all around the world to acquire best practices, one was trash collection. Gregor/Vision was in power and they were given this education. The opportunity to re implement these new ideas they learned for our large crowd events obviously wasn't used in this instance.. NPA didn't have that advantage, so to be fair...
The City could have used the same system they used for the large crowds in February. Put out extra litter receptacles. But they didn't learn the lesson, opportunity lost....
As for the bottle collectors, trust me Chris, they are very good business people. While the crowd watched the fireworks, the bottle collectors were already at work. These are the boxing day sales for their business.
On the news today it shows a 17 person crew out cleaning the beach was that at union wages?...
I don't know perhaps a few hundred garbage bags set up around the area could be less expensive than 17 union paid workers. Then the cleaning crew could be cut in half or less.
Or, HIRE the bottle collectors to clean during special events since recycling is their area of expertise.
I'll bet the beaches would be pristine by dawn...

Yes, lets blame the Mayor and the City because the people who go to English Bay to watch fireworks leave garbage behind. Clearly this is a Vancouver-only problem that is purely political. If we had another Mayor in office, of a different political affiliation, this would never happen! Not in a million years! They would DO something about it.

What? You think garbage would still be left behind, regardless of who is Mayor? Me too. Some people have no regard for public space. Let's not turn this unfortunate reality political, for heavens sakes.

("How is it the Mayor regularly boasts about Vancouver being the greenest city in the world, yet an event like the Celebration of Light instantly transforms English Bay into our own version of the Cache Creek landfill... why is this Mayor and the city doing so little about it?")

Everyone mentions garbage control during the Olympics... They did exactly the same as they do for the fireworks. Send out the crews and clean the streets before the city wakes up.

I was at the Surrey Fusion Festival on the weekend and not one spot of garbage - anywhere.

People that attended had the presence of mind to throw their garbage into any one of the numerous bins and or recycling containers. And there were attendants constantly cleaning.

This event ran 2 days (3 in previous years) had over 40 food vendors and various music stages splattered throughout Holland Park. Truly a family event. Very well put on (again1).

Point is - where there is a will, there is a way.

And starting to talk about the garbage issue 2 days before the event isn't going to do it. Hopefully, people will smarten up for upcoming shows.

But Robertson is constantly nattering on about Vancouver as a 'green' city.

But then again, he also stated he would 'end homelessness'.

Perhaps he has abandon both ships.


What's the big deal here?

It's 9am day after and the beaches are clean...

People using this as an example of a failed green city policy--are you making a joke?

George:

A few hundred garbage bags aren't going to be enough. Let's assume 5km of beachfront(lowball estimate that doesn't include streets and surrounding areas) and use Daniel's 'people won't walk more than 10m (approx.) to dispose of their waste' assertion as a starting point. We're already at 500 points where we need a receptacle. No way one bag will be enough for the night. Now we need somebody on shift to replace them. O/T to work at night? Probably.

Hiring binners to do the work will mean the usual paperwork for hiring a contractor, not to mention the union will probably have something to say about using temporary workers to perform a job that's in the bargaining unit. Not to mention most of the binners I've ever talked to do that job because they aren't interested in being a part of the regular workforce or have other barriers/objections. Many may not wish to give their names and SIN to an authority figure if they have had previous negative experiences with 'the system'

The Olympics were a very different type of event. A solid 2-3 weeks with most activities downtown... where adding a clear garbage bag and ring simply required attaching it to a lamp standard, not 5-6 days of evening activities spread over a couple of weeks at locations where you will probably have to provide a free standing container of some kind. I suppose we could bring in Parks garbage cans from other parks, but then they would have to be shipped back and forth to deal with the usual demand in addition to the fireworks, at yet more cost. Are there lessons to be learned? I don't know, but I can see that the two are dissimilar in some ways, so hard to know what tactics are transferable.

Take the garbage home? Now we have people jammed on transit with bags of garbage in hand. Spillage, health concerns, and a lot of extra work for Translink to clean the prep the buses for the next day.

Nobody is keen to see beaches covered in litter, but I'm having difficulty with the idea that this is somehow Council's fault, or the answer is somehow just being overlooked. It seems more like the problem is systemic all the way down to the ubiquity of take-away containers as Des noted at the start of the thread.

I would suggest that one answer is to really tackle this problem. Make take-away containers expensive and give away mess kits that could last the better part of a lifetime. I think in the long run that might be a better approach.

cheers,
CK

'On the news today it shows a 17 person crew out cleaning the beach was that at union wages?...'

*********

Yes, they are city workers so they are union.

Don't you remember in 2007 - during the strike..... the morning after one of the shows, volunteers did go out to clean the beach.

One of the group was from a local landscaping company.

Those 'nice' union folk threatened the workers and slashed the tires of their truck.

At that point, the manager of the company pulled his group out - most of which were students.

Max,

Great comment.

More waste containers, recycle bins + ATTENDANTS/bottle collectors,constantly cleaning/collecting during the event = less chaos and waste later.

I believe that was the lesson we learned during the Olympics.



What about all the garbage dumped on the beaches that inevitably gets washed into the ocean? Do the cleaning crews start immediately after the event is over the way they do in Times Square after New Years Eve? Or do they wait until the early morning to start the cleanup?

Having seen this tragedy of litter greet me each day following the Celebration of Light for two decades as I made my early morning way to work along Beach Avenue, it occured to me that the crush of people made it almost impossible to get the litter in the cans and the deluge of people also made it more than difficult for satff to empty cans during the event. I think the best way to help resolve the problem is to hand out garbage bags to all viewers or as many as possible, perhaps get a sponsor for them while branding them with our collective green goals, and suggest they be toted home or to the nearest can. Volunteers could hand them out in a meet & greet sort of way and the resulting trash would be perhaps less and at least easier for workers to pick up following the event.
It wouldn't hurt to try this.

@ Max,

OH My, I had forgotten that incident.

Well then, if that is the case,I don't know enough about how unions work so I really can't come up with a solution there.

I think the clear bags with rings supplied for the Olympics that Chris referred to is an excellent idea. That is exactly what I was eluding to in my post. Combine that with bottle recyclers/attendants continuously cleaning and the end result is less work later for the city crews to have to deal with. Use it as an opportunity to teach life skills, or job experience.
Off topic, but Windsor Ontario Council this week voted to privatize garbage collection. I believe 63 jobs will be phased out.

Have you ever heard of something called volunteers? You know, the people who donate their time for a good cause? Maybe the council could ask for volunteers to help keep the beaches clean during the festival? What a novel concept. A lot of neighbourhoods in Vancouver have these types of volunteers already.

I suspect this would be seen as a breach of the CUPE collective agreement and that's why the council is afraid to pursue it. Countless other major festivals use volunteers to help act as security and clean up. Why would the fireworks festival be any different?

It is a cop out to simply say let the garbage be dumped on our beaches and the unionized staff will clean it up at 5 am in the morning. By the way, I bet they are getting paid overtime to clean those beaches.

Another good reason to consider contracting out garbage collection so we are not forever held hostage to "the collective agreement" when looking for innovative solutions.

"It is a cop out to simply say let the garbage be dumped on our beaches and the unionized staff will clean it up at 5 am in the morning."

Unless it's actually the cheapest and most efficient way to address the issue, which has not yet been ruled out.

"Maybe the council could ask for volunteers to help keep the beaches clean during the festival?"

Shouldn't this more properly be the responsibility (at least in part) of the event organizers?

Wait for the next round of contract talks.

Councilor Meggs removed the city from Metro Vancouver Labour Bargaining Unit, which means the next round of negotiations could cost the taxpayers.... A LOT as we are now standing alone.

As it stands, how many people do you know received a 4% increase in wages last year?

According to my city tax notice - the city workers, and I do believe the Mayor and Council members did as well.

When is the next round of contract talks?

@chris. "Unless it's actually the cheapest and most efficient way to address the issue, which has not yet been ruled out."

If it were proven that contracting out our garbage pickup was the "cheapest and most efficient way" to deliver the service, would you support it? If not, your statement doesn't hold any water.

BTW, the mess is not limited to English Bay. Kits beach is a mess and strangely, it has been that way since the beginning of summer. Each Saturday and Sunday morning when I go for a walk along the kits beach, it is ruined by the liiter/garbage left behind by the pigs who so casually and cavalierly drop all matter of trash anywhere and everywhre along the beach. Agree with the writer of teh story this really puts the lie to the geenest city in the world as obviously the actions of its citzens say otherwise. And yes its is the city's government responsibility. They are responsible for enforcing the anti-littering by-laws, anti loietring by laws and for keeping the parks clean. The Vision envrio facists should focus on the basics before leaping to $50 million dollar bike lanes and back yard chickens.

For the record, blue-jacketed volunteers did not clean Vancouver each night during the Games - City sanitation staff did and we all known they did a great job, with pizza plates and empty bottles strewn everywhere.

They were supported by binners with a City funded partnership with United We Can - similar partnerships could be an option for events like celebration of light.

There's something to be said for having more recycling and waste receptacles but the responsibility for the mess ultimately lies not with government, but with citizens. Smarten up, Vancouver.

According to the City's website - 2011

That is exactly the program I was referring to..
I see it as being an opportunity to train a specialized crew for all outdoor special events... what a great win/win opportunity for a city that is trying to grow its outdoor offering of events..

The Mayor can't be overly concerned about being 'green'...

After all, the granite for the repairs to the Stanley Park seawall are being shipped here from China.

A three month trip by container ship and into our waterways....

Should have bought local!

Our Canadian Federal Stimulas dollars hard a work supporting the Chinese economy!

"If it were proven that contracting out our garbage pickup was the "cheapest and most efficient way" to deliver the service, would you support it?"

It would depend on a number of other variables.

My response was to the original poster who called leaving it to city workers a 'cop-out'. I pointed out it may be a good business decision.

Would you support the current method of dealing with fireworks waste if it is the most cost-efficient?

@ Chris
You didn't answer the question. Your answer could be one word... yes or no... which is it?
one word is all I will read of your post so make it count.

Why has this turned into a such a political football? The people attending the fireworks should, on the whole, be responsible for the garbage they create and, given a free bag should be able to toss it in a dumpster on the way home, or better yet, take it home.
I'd be tempted to say that there should not be a free fireworks if
people can not take more responsibility for the trash they create.

I have to say, I like volunteering and believe in giving back to the community, but picking up after slovenly fireworks spectators who can't be bothered doesn't strike me as a 'good cause'. These are hardly kids with cancer or endangered species or families without enough to eat. Pick up after your own crap you lazy disgusting horrible people. I hope you live among your own garbage at home, too.

1- Reduce waste at the source. Why doesn't anyone want to talk about my sushi idea? I was really hoping to hijack this discussion about long-standing Vision/NPA grudges. Anyways, part of the problem is that even small snacks/meals come with enormous amounts of packaging to start with. So yeah, my sushi idea for café-style self-serve chopsticks/ soy/ napkins/ etc... it's great, and it's the first comment! Stay on topic, for chrissakes...

2- Love Terri's 'give people garbage bags on the way in' idea; coupled with convenient and obvious dumpsters on the way out, this would likely work well, particularly given that there are some well-defined exit routes that people seem to follow.

3- Enforcement. Given that the VPD's got about a million cops out there anyway (or were those just red-and-blue post-show surface fireworks on Beach ave?), maybe they should also keep an eye out for blatant littering and nail people with $1,000 tickets. A few such stories would go a long way.

I agree with the need to reduce packaging when it comes to take out.

It kills me when I'm handed a styrofoam container as there is nothing 'green' you can do with it - and there are still too many places that use styrofoam.

I am huge on recycling.

Sadly, the office building where I work does not have a program (I think it should be mandatory that all office buildings have recycling bins located somewhere accessible)so whenever I have take out, the packaging heads home with me.

But the problem is educating the masses. And let's face it - many of the people heading to the fireworks are younger and really don't care about too much outside of themselves, especially if they've had a drink or two.

As well, messaging needs to in languages aside from English.

Des your comment is bang on. You make a lot of sense and probably capture how most people feel about this. I totally agree that a few $1000 fines would go a LONG way in preventing people from dumping their trash on the beaches. I doubt mayor moonbeam would be into this as it might break someone's civil rights.

CKNW radio has a poll on this subject on their website. So far most people are blaming the pigs who dump the garbage on the beaches (75%) while 25% believe the city is to blame for a lack of trash cans. Interesting. Vote now, vote often.

Hey Max; I'm under 30. Is that young enough for me to "really [not] care about too much outside of [myself], especially if [I]'ve had a drink or two"?

For the record, I'm young, I had a drink or two or more last night while admiring the show, and I managed to hand off my bottles to a picker and appropriately dispose of the limited other waste that I had.

Much as this issue likely transcends terms of municipal government, I think it probably also transcends age categories. There are varying levels of conscientousness among all age categories.

Great ideas, Des, and you're so right about these ridiculous NPA/Vision grudges and excessive food packaging. I'm going to use your suggestion and take my own reusable container next time I get takeout sushi. If even 1,000 people did this over the course of a year, we could avoid putting a lot of styrofoam and plastic into the earth.

I also think Terri's idea of giving out garbage bags (biodegradable ones, preferably) that have the sponsor's logo on it is a good idea (although the sponsor might not like having their logo all over trash bags). Even if people filled them, tied them and let them sit on the beach, it would keep the mess better contained and easier to clean up. While not everyone would bother, I believe most people would do this.

In fact, what could be printed on those plastic garbage bags is "Littering: $1,000 fine. Bagging your trash: $0."

Des, although my post was somewhat general, my comments are through several years of observation. There seems to be a decline in the level of awareness of the young people coming up today.

I am sorry if I offended you, but too many of today's youth are overly self absorbed.

I see it when I take transit and the 20's somethings that occupy the 'designated' seats won't budge when an elderly, disabled, pregnant or parent with tot get on. One should not have to suggest to them that they move their butt, but it seems to becoming a more common practice because they don't do it willingly - it doesn't seem to 'dawn' on them. The Chinese refer to it as 'Emperor' syndrome.

And just the other night outside of my place in Kits, I hear glass breaking and the one guy laughing as he tells his buddy 'he just wanted to do that'. From there I watched them go to a GS news box, toss a bunch of papers onto West 4th and then dump the boxes over before they wandered to their truck to drive off.

This was 4 in the morning, and sadly not uncommon - not anymore.

I would guess they were both early 20's.

I stand by my submission - much of the youth of today are getting more lazy when it comes to common courtesies and common sense.

Just had the chance to review all the comments and suggestions here. Great stuff! Who would have thought that garbage could be so interesting. Kudos to everyone who participated in the debate so far. A lot of food for thought.

Max:

I am sorry if I offended you, but too many of today's [boomers] are overly self absorbed.

I see it when I take transit and the bus is stuck behind cars driven mostly by 40+ somethings. One should not have to suggest to them that they find a more eco-friendly way to get around, but it seems as though it's becoming a more common practice because they don't do it willingly - it doesn't seem to 'dawn' on them. The Chinese refer to it as 'Emperor' syndrome.

And just the other night on the evening news, I saw a piece about some 50-something politician telling us about a new pipeline to Kitimat, and about how green the tar sands are. So I looked at Google Earth to see where that pipeline would go and would you believe the amount of logging in this province? Sure wasn't the young folk of my generation selling off nearly all of the old-growth forests at bargain-basement stumpage fees.

All the people responsible for this, I'd guess they were in their 40s+. I stand by my submission - much of the 40-60 crowd of today have either led the way or acquiesced to some of the vastest ecological destruction the earth has known.

But wait - I know enough that every generation has had folks both courteous and courageous, who've known better, who've picked up after themselves, offered their seats on the bus, and who've tried to make the world a better place. No one age category has a monopoly on either virtue or vice - many of my peers are just itching to profit from the tar sands or couldn't care less about what kind of world they leave behind.

There are many good young folks out there who are possibly less noticeable (certainly at 4am!) and it seems a bit lay the detritus of one of Vancouver's premier family events (sponsored by Shore 104 - a boomer radio station if ever there was one) at the feet of young people. There're rotten apples and prize winners in every basket.

Anyways, to stick to my topic, ask your sushi place to adopt a café-style/ self-serve approach to accessories and bring your own containers!

Unfortunately many come from areas where litter is culturally accepted and aren't told what is expected in Canada. There needs to be some sort of public campaign to raise awareness.

If it isn't the young, it's the immigrants? Give us a break...

Hand-lettered sign seen on a utility pole in Orange Walk, Belize in 1998 :
"Hey Mon! Betta no Litta".

"The Celebration of Garbage"

Shame.

Is this a joke??
Seriously, that image is definitely NOT from English Bay nor anywhere else in Vancouver. The beach doesn't even look the same! This article may have some great and valid points, but please don't use such ridiculous misleading imagery!!

Vancouvorite,
Yes my friend it is a joke.
If you look through the previous posts you will see that City Caucus guys have a great sense of humour, and use some pretty funny photos.
My favorite of all time was the goat on City Hall lawn for April Fools Day....
I fell for it.

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