In just 15 minutes at the trail head of McIntosh Run in Spryfield, Jason Tulk has collected 82 pieces of litter. He keeps track on an app called Litterati, which geotags the spot where people have picked up litter.
The app shows that 275 pieces of litter have already been collected in that same spot.
“A lot of it I think is laziness really,” says Tulk about all the litter he’s found and collected.
On Tuesday in the afternoon, he was out on the trail with his daughter cleaning up, but normally Tulk picks up litter while running on his lunch break. He’s only been doing that for the past month, but has already cleaned up over 1,000 littered items.
“Probably cups is the most common item I collect, the most common item that’s out there is certainly cigarette butts,” he said.
“But when I’m trying to run, it’s hard to stop and pick up every cigarette butt.”
Over in Highfield, Madison Hebb does pick up cigarette butts, among other items that litter the area.
“I go out at least three times a week and I usually do a loop around and I fill up multiple Sobey’s bags,” she said.
Hebb started cleaning up after having her son because she wants him to be able to grow up in a cleaner environment, but she admits the clean-up job is never ending.
“With the wind, the garbage is constantly coming through, and so you just have to stay on top of it,” she said.
While Hebb is hoping to organize a community clean up to get more hands on deck, she also thinks that more garbage and recycling bins would help, but she says they need to have lids, unlike the garbage cans at most bus stops.
“The wind blows it and just lifts it up and spreads further garbage,” said Hebb.
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But small pieces of litter aren’t the only problems when it comes to garbage. Victor Henrikson, the chief trail patrol warden with the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association says dumping has become an issue.
“It’s not unusual since they started going down to one green garbage bag to find three, four, five green garbage bags dumped over the fence at our trail heads,” he explained.
The Trails Association is a volunteer run group, and while some trails have garbage collected by HRM staff, others are maintained solely by volunteers, so when people dump their trash it can cost the volunteers money to properly dispose of the garbage.
Witnesses can call 311 or police if they see any dumping and while both dumping and littering are illegal, finding the culprit can be difficult.
As for keeping the municipality clean, it’s a shared responsibility between both Transportation and Public Works, and Parks and Recreation.
According to the Municipality, in a 24 hour period, at work are four compactor trucks, six half-ton trucks, three sidewalk sweeping machines, six street sweeping machines and staff on the ground doing litter clean-up.
“There’s set routes that our crews follow, so in the core it’s dealt with on a daily basis, and outside of the core it’s a bit more of a rotating basis, but it’s weekly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said HRM spokesperson Maggie-Jane Spray.