[Scouts Talking Trash] How to Properly Get Rid of Garbage

By Brian Asin


Vancouver has been recognized time and time again as a green city. We have a ton of sustainable development initiatives and waste reduction policies under our belt. The heaps of trash left in the campgrounds after the annual Pemberton Music Festival, however, show a side of the ‘green city’ that we aren’t used to seeing.   Sure, this is an extreme example, but it deffinitely shows how important our generation treats the problem of littering. It is common sense to dispose your trash properly. We all know not to litter, and we all know the basics of what affects the environment. Nonetheless, if I went out right now to any local park, I could almost guarantee that it would not be trash-on-the-ground free.

What’s the problem?

Trash bins are not hard to find in a city like Vancouver. Many forward-thinking establishments even have sorting systems with three or four different waste bins! The problem is that many people are simply too lazy. As appalling as this sounds, for many young people littering has become a norm. Take for example cigarette butts. They are the #1 most littered item in the world, and no stranger to the streets of Downtown Vancouver. Take note—it does not look cool to flick away your cigarette butts. For the small minority of people  who don’t understand why proper waste disposal is important (and as a reminder for all of us), here are 3 guidelines to keep our world a little cleaner:

#1 – If you want people to change, you have to be willing to change yourself first.

Rather than pointing fingers, we should look within ourselves and try to change our own habits. In Scouting, we live by the Leave No Trace principle that teaches to “take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints”.  Another memorable guideline for waste disposal is “pack it in, pack it out”. Prevention is always easier. When you go out, always be aware of what you might need to throw away, and then act accordingly. Wait until you find trash cans before dealing with items such as food or food packaging.

#2 – Take what you dish out—Start by taking care of your own trash.

We can’t stress this enough: the habit, the chain reaction, and the long-term effects all start with you. If you’re not comfortable with keeping garbage in your pockets, bring a small shopping bag to keep your mess until you find a bin. Littering should never even be considered a valid option. The Great Canadian Shoreline CleanUp at VanAqua suggests that the best way to kickstart is by actively not littering at least one piece every day.

#3 – Spread the word.

Lead the charge. Some people might think that picking up random garbage could be embarrassing and unhygienic. This is the kind of behaviour I wish to dispel. Just as we wash our hands and vacuum our floors,  we should all feel a sense of accountability for our public spaces, and our environment. If everyone could account for themselves, our streets and parks will certainly be cleaner.


Brian Asin

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