If there's one thing I learned this winter it was the battle humans have been waging against litter is being lost.
For a week or so in February, while the world was here watching Whistler shine like gold, I picked garbage. In the village, along the Valley Trails, in ditches and along sidewalks. Litter, litter everywhere and not a thought we think. It's time for Whistler to chip in at Pitch In Day 2010, April 24.
What's up people? How does the paper cup, paper sleeve and plastic lid on that disposable coffee cup you paid six bucks to have filled with double skim, extra hot, gloppacinno all of a sudden become worthless as soon as you gulp the last drop of glop? I learned as a kid in the 1970s not to litter - thanks mom and dad for that valuable lesson.
Maybe you want to help support the longstanding Whistler trash tradition. Since 1989, the Resort Municipality of Whistler Roads Department has been organizing an annual Pitch In Day every spring. Volunteers work throughout the valley picking up litter in this fun, community day. Now community groups, sports associations and all Whistler citizens are invited to pitch in April 24, clean up our resort community and get a rewarding après litter pickin' BBQ.
As Pitch In Day hosts, the RMOW Roads Department organizes groups and volunteers to ensure all areas of the valley are touched with tidy. Roads staff come in and help out with the removal of the bags and sort recyclable materials. Whistler's local grocers donate food and drinks for the post-event BBQ and the Whistler Fire Fighters Association is kind enough to flip grilled food for fun.
The Whistler2020 Materials and Solid Waste community task force is working hard to help our valley work toward our zero waste goals and copious litterbugs in our midst are working against us all. It makes me think of one fine Olympic morning when RMOW Planner Frank Savage embarked on a journey to Whistler Creekside that yielded 11 large bags of litter in six hours on picker patrol.
"You know it puts a whole different light on this place," Savage says, eyes on the ground. "I have a much harder time enjoying the ambience... sometimes I can only see garbage. But every butt picked makes a difference," he says referring to the million or so discarded, not-biodegradable cigarette butts sullying our town.
So, next time you light up that very expensive cigarette, think about the value you are showing your neighbours and this beautiful town when you take that last drag and flick it onto the trail in front of you. I'm not harping on anyone for smoking. I am pointing out your litterin' ways though. According to whyquit.com there are an estimated 1 billion butts hurled to the ground daily around the world, translating into 1.7 billion pounds of butts a year. This is a global issue we can deal with in Whistler through using the litany of trash cans around or carrying a concealed, closeable pocket ashtray.
In a resort community where over two million people a year come to enjoy our town and its connection to nature, litter should simply be not part of the scene. Let's work together this Pitch In Day, and every day after, to clean up our act.
There are many Whistler groups helping support Pitch In Day by adopting a specific zone or neighbourhood as their area of focus, coordinating people and stuff to get out there and get dirty for cleanliness. There will be a group in your area, call to find out who they are and join them. For more information, contact Andrew Finnerty in the Roads Department @ 604-935-8331.
To learn more about other actions that are moving our community toward Whistler2020 or to get involved, visit www.whistler2020.ca .