Where’s the Communal Pride?

Karin and Agnes Ostermeier many years ago.

There comes a point in your life where you have to admit your limits and step back – and that point has come for us ‘garbologists’. Three out of the four core members will be in our mid 80’s next year. Despite the will, desire and energy level to keep our surroundings clean, our bodies (backs, knees, etc.) tell us otherwise (I think I speak for my buddies as well). It was very difficult to find helpers. My pleas on Facebook and in the newspaper, and Wawa-news  turned out ZERO help, some of my friends gave me a hand out of… pity? or loyalty? Not good. It should be a communal pride to help keep our little town clean.

27 years ago, a few of us created awareness about the sloppiness around us. Years of showing what it could look like without trash, unnecessary littering slowly started making sense to people, so let’s not go backwards again. Canadians are worldwide known as kind and giving. So let’s add another plus point: respectful and clean. I  met many people from other places in the world who sadly pointed out the careless behaviour of some of us. Keeping it clean should not only rest on the shoulders of some ageing volunteers.

We who clean up have no benefit from our effort other than civic pride not to live like slobs in a beautiful natural place. Businesses rely on tourism…so here is my solution: Every year during the month of May EVERY commercial and municipal establishment gives one person for 3 hours. Only 3 hours! Whether it is the township, Brookfield Power, MTO, EDC, high schools, Valumart, Bargain Shop, Canadian Tire, independent shops or private capable people… each donates a helper for only 3 hours. What a difference that would make! Minimum wage is less than $15.00 per hour. This would cost some of these places only $45.00 in donated time!! We did it for FREE for years and picked up mountains of trash. (What would it look like if we hadn’t?) Let’s unite and make it a communal effort and not only rely on some old “dummies” who have nothing better to do… NOT!

The original ‘Garbologists’.

An effort from the township would really help and be appreciated – to put messages on empty spaces like: “This is a Litter Free Zone” or “Please keep it CLEAN” and other anti-littering slogans…

The billboard at the arena is a good place – empty for weeks, officially “broken” for years.

A few years ago, one council member volunteered one day to help us clean Highway 17. As a result, they threw up and declared ‘I have a whole new perspective and respect for what you guys are doing!’ But where is the support?

For next spring, let’s do this together as a communal pride effort. We Canadians can be more than kind, friendly and giving. We can also be respectful too.

Meanwhile, STOP LITTERING! It looks sooooo much better.


Karin Grundt

P.S. Here are a few words about litter from some world travellers I befriended along their travels. This is how we are seen:

Canada. The word has always evoked a sense of vastness in me. It stands for pristine remote wilderness and bountiful beautiful landscapes. Its people are renowned for being incredibly friendly and helpful. I have dreamt about coming to Canada for decades. It has been a childhood dream. Now, this dream has finally come true. I’m currently driving across Canada with my wife as part of our bigger adventure of driving across the Americas. When we were planning this trip we always wanted to make the most of all the beautiful places we would visit. For us, that usually means outdoor activities. So far we’ve been hiking, trail running and canoeing in various national and provincial parks, and most of the ideas I’ve had in my head about Canada have been confirmed. It’s beautiful, it’s vast, it’s wild. We have seen some incredible wildlife. Only pristine: it was not. Even on the shore of the remotest lake, we canoed to we stumbled across empty power bar wrappers. At the end of trails we ran, we found empty beer cans. On rocks at the bottom of a waterfall in the middle of nowhere, we found cigarette butts. We were shocked. Canadians were mistreating their biggest asset. Nature.

Wherever we can, we pick up after other people. The outdoors (and any place really) are just nicer without the rubbish. You’ve already carried in the full cans of beer and the power bars and the water bottles and the sandwiches. Now, refreshed and strengthened from your little snack, surely you have the energy to pick it all up and carry it out. And then there’s the pit toilets. Both common sense and the signs on every toilet clearly state: Please No Rubbish, as it won’t decompose. We’ve even seen toilets where people had decided they didn’t like the smell of it, so they instead relieved themselves just outside. Such disrespect towards the park rangers who will have to clean it up is truly mind-boggling. If you look closely, you’ll find that the ditches lining the trans-Canadian highway are full of litter too. There are lots of plastic bottles, some of them filled with the urine of truckers, we’ve seen diapers and even completely full garbage bags.

Of course, you’ll find rubbish wherever you go in the world. It just doesn’t fit my picture perfect images of Canada. So for now we travel on westwards, searching for a spot that is truly remote and free of rubbish.

Konstantin & Janneke


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Karin Grundt
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