The Government of Ontario has announced its yearly Provincial Day of Action on Litter.

Scheduled for May 11, the day encourages Ontarians to keep the province clean.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the government has focused on promoting waste reduction and prevention inside the home. Still, that hasn’t stopped a few Muskoka residents from taking to the streets with gloves and bags.

Port Sydney resident Candice Stevenson organized a socially-distant litter clean-up in her community last weekend. She says people don’t often realize how much litter is hidden in plain sight. “It was kind of astounding how in only a kilometre stretch there was so much, I think there was 7 or 8 extra large recycling bags filled with recyclable plastic and glass bottles,” Stevenson says.

After a day of cleaning with neighbours and community members, Stevenson says she could not be happier with the results. “It’s very rewarding, even for myself just driving past there, it looks so much nicer. It brings a lot of pride and joy in seeing the area, a very natural area that doesn’t have a lot of development on it, and see it clean and in all of its glory.”

Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano says she thinks the day of action has a broader focus than simply keeping the streets clean, instead targeting the problem at its source. “They’re trying to get people to divert more waste from our landfill sites, so it’s a little different from an Earth Day type litter pickup.”

While no public litter clean-up events have been scheduled for the town, Terziano says she’s confident that residents can help from within their homes. “I think that we’ve got a pretty responsible community as far as recycling goes, and I think that probably the message is to do more reusing and maybe look at buying goods that have less packaging.”

Stevenson says her next step is to create templates to help people organize similar events in their own communities.

Written by Martin Halek