Bullying our Planet

Picking up trash for WWF's Shoreline Cleanup

Almost all of our experiences link together to further inform and engage us. We can choose to pull from the experiences and create links or we can simply react to each situation. I found myself drawing correlations between the following two separate experiences earlier this month:

The first weekend of October I took part in WWF’s Shoreline Cleanup initiative. Early one Saturday afternoon I, along with a few friends, made my to Ward’s Island to pick up trash. Along the way we were able to witness not one, but two, bridal brigades usher themselves onto the ferry and over to the island for photo ops.  Not exactly a regular Saturday  morning (the trash pickup), but it sure did provide for a weekend of retrospect. While picking up the scraps of other’s past experiences carelessly left behind, or those that washed up from the lake, left me wondering about the lingering effects of our polluting ways. An overwhelming amount of what we retrieved from the sand was cigarette butts and straws. Tossed aside with little thought, these seemingly inconsequential acts of dropping a butt in the sand have long lasting effects.

Birds, fish and other wildlife may ingest the tossed remnants. They get washed into street drains making their way to our water sources and de-beautify our parks where dogs roam, children play and hipsters lounge.

Earlier this month I also learned that a former highschool classmate remains hurt from the bullying he faced on a daily basis through his 6 years of middle and high school life. Hearing the negative lingering effect of the taunting, made me realize that what we are doing to our planet is bullying. Just as a bruise may heal and tears may dry, the emotional rigours of verbal and physical assault remain with a person indefinitely. It is hard to shake. When we pollute and pillage the earth the scars remain. The oil may stop spilling, the cyanide may become diluted in the lake, or the trash removed from the shoreline, but the lingering, hidden and often most detrimental problems prevail.

We may attempt to sweep up the mess, but what is desperately needed in both planet and human bullying is to engage in preemptive initiatives-Work on dealing with root causes, rather than the bandaid solutions.

Of course there are initiatives, and many working tirelessly advocating for safer and more welcoming environments. Here are a few links to name a few….

Environmental Justice Foundation-check out their campaigns to end the use of toxic pesticides in agriculture-and their links to helping make the fashion industry more ethically and environmentally sustainable.

It Gets Better-Of course we all heard about this org set up by Dan Savage-Speaking out against hate and intolerance and providing a community for LGBT youth

TEA-Toronto Environmental Alliance-a great way to get involved at a local level. In fact, this week is actually Waste Reduction Week. They also just released the report: Don’t Trash my Environment: Why Companies Need to Part of Ontario’s Waste Solution

The Evergreen Brickworks-beyond the fantastic farmer’s market and little oasis within the city, they are a great community resource and play host to a lovely bunch of local environmental organizations.


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