Trash tossers

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­ — Twit­ter:@Wanger­sky.

I don’t blame Tim Hor­tons, any more than I blame McDon­ald’s. Oh wait, yes, I do.

Re­mem­ber that old chest­nut that’s trot­ted out ev­ery time there’s a mass killing: “Guns don’t kill peo­ple — peo­ple kill peo­ple”?

Peo­ple pull the trig­gers, that’s for sure — the trig­gers don’t pull them­selves.

But hav­ing a gun avail­able can be a big part of the crime.

If you com­mit a crime, you need to have means, mo­tive, op­por­tu­nity. A gun in your hands is the means; a gun at hand at the right time is op­por­tu­nity. All you need is the mo­tive.

Well, lesser crime or not, it’s like that with trash, isn’t it?

If I walk to work, it’s about 50 min­utes from door to door.

Fif­teen or so min­utes of that are along a wide as­phalt bike path, next to a four-lane ar­te­rial road. On one side of me, it’s traf­fic, the cars and trucks hiss­ing by. On the other side, it’s the hiss­ing of the straw-coloured, win­ter­dried thigh-high grass, all canted one way with the pre­vail­ing wind.

It’s the liveli­est dead thing you’ll ever see: it twitches in the wind, hisses and rat­tles as it’s bat­tered with ice pel­lets and snow, a con­stantly shift­ing back­drop that catches at your at­ten­tion again and again, your eye alert to mo­tion.

There are trees there, too, a mix of ever­greens. small spruce and fir and long-nee­dle pine, none of them taller than a low­ceilinged bun­ga­low Christ­mas tree. And it seems there is no place, no sin­gle place, where there isn’t wind­blown trash bun­dled in un­der those trees, cof­fee cups and burger wrap­pers and stray mys­te­ri­ous coils of plas­tic, like hoard­ers’ gifts of garbage placed with care.

On the road, there are flat­tened cups and the oc­ca­sional one left rolling along, draw­ing cold cof­fee-and-cream con­cen­tric cir­cles with their re­main­ing con­tents.

The num­ber of cups are re­duced as I dodge up through a res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood — they’re still around, of course, just spread more thinly, usu­ally up against the curb and mashed flat.

But back on a four-lane main drag, scant blocks from the near­est cof­fee shop, and they’re back in force. I know one fence along the side of a house where there are eas­ily 40 cups in tight against the fence pal­ings, hun­kered down like farm an­i­mals try­ing to es­cape a cold wind, dirty and wet and some slowly break­ing down into pa­pery sludge.

And none of them, not one sin­gle cup or wrap­per or chip bag, got there by accident. I imag­ine there’s not one place along that al­most-hour-long walk where I’m not within 60 feet of a dis­carded cof­fee cup or hardy plas­tic lid.

There’s lots of space for blame: blame for the fast-food and cof­fee gi­ants who make and dis­trib­ute tons of trash, blame for the peo­ple who can’t be both­ered to keep an empty cup in their cars for even a few miles, blame for those among us who care so lit­tle about their sur­round­ings that ev­ery inch of the out­doors is es­sen­tially an open garbage can.

What do you say? In the New Year, just a scant few days from now, why don’t we all try to do a lit­tle bet­ter?

I imag­ine there’s not one place along that al­most-hour-long walk where I’m not within 60 feet of a dis­carded cof­fee cup or hardy plas­tic lid.

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