If you’re at all like me you’ve looked around your neighbourhood and noticed the amount of trash lying around, anywhere from the odd food wrapper to the common cigarette butt. Littering is a common occurrence and lets face it we’ve all been there, either guilty of littering ourselves or witnesses to other people littering. Although it might not seem like a big deal to people, littering has a significant effect on the environment. According to the National Geographic there are “5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean”. Staggering as that number is, it will continue to grow as humans consume more and more plastics products that often end up improperly thrown away, or carelessly tossed onto our streets. This is particularly worrying given the shelf life of these plastics. Plastic can take up to 100 years or longer to decompose. For instance plastic bags take 10-20 years to decompose, where as plastic bottles take 450 years to decompose. It is no wonder than that we, as a society, need to start taking action towards creating a cleaner and greener world.
One great spear head in the fight against littering and climate change are Community clean up days. Community clean up days are a great way to clear the environment of trash and to fix up the neighbourhood. This type of action has a number of great results, not just for the environment, but also for the participates and their communities. Community clean up initiatives help build teamwork among participants, create a sense of community among members, and foster an appreciation for the area thereby ensuring members are more conscientious about the space going forward.
For Regent Park residents, Community Clean Up Days are nothing new and on June 20th, 2020, they held their annual community clean up day with roaring success. Despite the pandemic, Friends of Regent Park, an organization that puts on events in the neighbourhood, together with area residents and other community members, managed to hold their annual clean up day safely by using social distance between people and requiring masks. The participants tackled the Park, the Christian Resource Centre, the Athletic Grounds, Nelson Mandela School and surrounding streets. As Sean Brathwaite explains he hopes their efforts will spread a message to the wider community, “if people see us cleaning up the trash and litter, that they’ll do their part and they’ll also do the same thing and put the trash where it belongs in the garbage”.
Although it seems like a simple and small step, cleaning up pollution from our communities has a far reaching positive effect on not just the community but the environment as a whole. And for this we would like to thank the Friends of Regent Park and the participants of the Community clean up day for your small but significant step in helping the Regent Park area be cleaner, greener and more beautiful overall.
By Adaku Huggins-Warner
Adaku Huggins-Warner is a volunteer journalist with the FOCUS Media Arts Centre