Family life

My running trail is not your dump

On her weekend trail run, Jennifer was so disappointed to see a tremendous amount of illegally dumped garbage — and she’s determined to help clean it up

By Jennifer Pinarski
My running trail is not your dump

Standing in front of a huge pile of illegally dumped garbage during my weekend trail run, sporting my best What the Heck? face.

The last of the ice and snow are off of the local running trails, so this weekend I spent all 42 of my training kilometres on the trails in Kawartha Lakes. On Saturday I ran 26 kilometres south of my cottage home and on Sunday I ran 16 kilometres north. And in both directions I was so sad to see a tremendous amount of garbage. I’m not talking a few Tim Horton’s cups here and there (to be sure, there were lots of those). Heaps of garbage all over MY trails, literally in MY backyard.
Tires, toilets, stereos, high chairs, shoes, leaf blowers, barbeques, electrical cords, metal drums. On our road alone there are four tires. Along our riverfront I found an empty 1L Coke bottle stuck in the shortline. Elsewhere it looks like a family of four just pitched their fast food garbage out a car window. I saw two broken toilets in two different spots on my Saturday run. Toilets in the middle of the woods, where there is no running water. 
Here's what drives me the craziest: the trails I go running on are either private property or Crown land and well off the beaten path. Which means whoever is dumping garbage is going well out of their way to find a way to pitch their junk. For example, in the picture I posted here, I am 15KM from the nearest landfill site and 3KM off the nearest road, on a snowmobile trail that runs through private property. It's not easily accessible by car (unless you want to bottom out your car) and only accessible by truck, foot or ATV. Some of the junk looks very old (the high chair in the back), while some of it looks recent (two stereos and a leaf blower). Whether it is one person using this land as their personal landfill, or several people just following suit, it's an eyesore and so very terrible for our environment.
While I'm most often an optimist, sadly I only see this getting worse. Recently our municipality voted to eliminate the free landfill tipping pass that homeowners have always had (this pass allowed one free dump run per year). The cost of operating our landfills has increased and our council opted to go this route rather than raising taxes — a decision I can't imagine being easy for them to make. Sadly, I see less garbage in our landfills and more on my trails.
Not one to sit back and watch the garbage pile up, I've gotten in touch with the Kawartha Field Naturalists and my municipality to see how to go about getting the broken toilets and shredded tires off the trails. On my next run I'll tuck a garbage bag in my pocket. And little by little I`ll make a cleaner future for our children.

Your turn: Do you see more garbage than usual in your neighbourhood this spring? What are you doing to help clean up the town or city you live in?
This article was originally published on Mar 26, 2012

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