File photo of a person picking up litter courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / AlfaStudio.

Clean and Green program targets single-use items

Saying “no” to unnecessary single-use packaging and products is the focus of London’s annual city-wide cleanup.

The 24th edition of the London Clean and Green program was launched Tuesday at Fanshawe College. The annual initiative begins with the 12 Days of Cleaning and ends with the 20-Minute London Makeover on April 26 and the Community Cleanup Day on April 27.

In addition to asking Londoners to pick-up litter in their neighbourhoods, city officials will use the 12 Days of Cleaning to spread information and awareness about the little known fourth “R” – Refusables.

“By that, we mean an item that quite often you can say no to, but unfortunately these are the same items that often become litter,” said Jay Stanford, director of environment, fleet and solid waste for the city. “A great example would be a plastic bag. If you go to a grocery store you can refuse that item and say ‘no, I’m going to use my reuseable bags.’ Same thing at a coffee shop, you can bring in your reuseable travel mug.”

Plastic straws and utensils and paper plates are also among the single-use disposable items Stanford said are contributing to the city’s waste problem.

While the exact amount of garbage collected through the program isn’t known, it is estimated roughly 20 tonnes will be picked up across the city over the next 14 days, said Stanford.

Local businesses, institutions, and schools are encouraged to aid in the litter collection by allowing employees and students to go outside to pick up trash during the 20-Minute London Makeover. All Londoners can help rid the city of litter carelessly chucked in parks, neighbourhoods, and along the banks of the Thames River during the Community Cleanup the following day.

Residents can register their cleanup locations, although it is not required to participate, at londoncleangreen.ca.

“If you’d like to request garbage bags or gloves from us to help with the litter cleanup we are happy to provide those,” said Stanford. “If people want to go as far as pinning their cleanup spot on a map it is also on that website.”

More than 40 community groups and organizations have partnered with the city to promote the cleanup effort.