Community Scientists Raise Awareness About Impact of Litter 

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Photo: Volunteers Natalie and Trish at the Wiarton Clean-up.
Submitted by Marg Glendon, PBTC Outreach and Membership Director

Inspired by the work of community groups such as Keep The Bruce Clean & Green, Owen Sound Waste Watchers and A Greener Future, Peninsula Bruce Trail Club (PBTC) initiated the Hike It! Love It! Keep It Clean! program in 2021. For the fourth consecutive year, PBTC volunteers will collect and sort litter found along the Bruce Trail, Bruce Trail hot spots and access points. Following the trail cleanups, volunteers record and submit the litter data to Bruce Trail Conservancy. At the end of the season, BTC provides a data summary. You can learn more here: https://pbtc.ca/hikeitloveitkeepitclean

Upcoming Bruce Trail Litter Pickups are 9:30 a.m. on June 9th at Lion’s Head Nature Reserve (meet at McCurdy Parking Lot) and June 15th in Tobermory (meet at the PBTC tent in Little Tub Harbour). Volunteers are welcome! Remember to reserve parking: www.northernbruceparking.ca 

Hike It! Love It Keep It Clean! has three goals – to keep the Bruce Trail clean, to raise awareness about the impact of litter on our environment and to deepen our understanding of the type, amount and location of accumulated litter found along the Bruce Trail and Trail access points.

In 2023, the data analysis indicated that the top three littered items included cigarette butts, food and beverage related containers and paper pieces. Cigarette butts and smoking related litter contributed 38% of the total collected items. Plastic items added another 32%, with 68% of this from food and beverage items (food wrappers, take-out food containers, dishware, bottles etc.). 

These findings will inform and strengthen our on-trail and online messaging about “Leave No Trace”. Information tables at trail cleanups support trail cleanups and provide an opportunity to engage with trail users about staying on the trail, how to find your way on the Bruce Trail and the importance of leaving only footprints and taking only photographs. 

Kicking Butts

In 2024, PBTC will be highlighting the importance of safe disposal of cigarette butts and risk of fires while on the trail. All of the cigarette butt collection will be dried and sent to TerraCycle for recycling. Here the butts are sorted into compostable, recyclable and non-usable categories. The plastic found in the cigarette filters can be recycled and used to make new items such as plastic lawn furniture, thereby extending its life use. Thank you to Bruce Peninsula National Park for including our cigarette butt collection in its TerraCycle account. The account is free for TerraCycle account holders. You can find out more here: https://www.terracycle.com/en-CA/

Reduce single use plastic

Plastic items found along the trail increased last year. Much of the plastic litter was related to single-use food and beverage containers and wrap. As a result, social media and on-trail messaging will focus on reducing single-use plastic by using reusable containers. This year, PBTC and Sources of Knowledge will partner on a pilot project called, “Saugeen Peninsula Reduces Waste” which will engage and highlight local businesses permitting “bring your own” containers.

Are you a local business and want to learn more about Saugeen Peninsula Reduces Waste? Or, if you would like to volunteer at Bruce Trail cleanups, do your own cleanup and data collection on the Bruce Trail – between Wiarton and Tobermory – please contact Marg for more information at: pbtcoutreach@gmail.com or Owen at: owenglendon@me.com.