On February 25, the UTM Green Team organized this year’s Anti-Litter Campaign, an initiative designed to get students to take responsibility for their actions by cleaning up after themselves. The campaign also aims to help maintain an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere on campus.
Caretakers in the South Building were asked not to clean up after students for a four-hour time period, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which encompassed the lunchtime rush in Spigel Hall. Garbage left on tables and filled-to-the-brim garbage cans were left untouched to display the severity of the littering problem on campus (the garbage was only cleaned up only occurred when potentially hazardous materials spilled on the floor).
Throughout the campaign, Green Team coordinators and volunteers documented garbage accumulation in Spigel Hall through still images from two fixed locations in Hall A. They also took student testimonials on how the garbage build-up impacted them.
“I think it’s disgusting!” said one student. “How can people leave all their trash everywhere? It looks so unsanitary.”
The Anti-Litter coordinators remained on-site throughout the campaign to answer any questions, clean up spills and monitor the situation. Coordinators cleaned up all the tables and emptied all the garbage bins at the end of the campaign.
The Green Team created a Facebook event to promote the campaign and send a widespread message about litter on campus.
“The cleanup required eight bags of garbage, weighing a total of 87.5 lbs in only four hours. During the cleanup, we noticed how wasteful students are here. Once the garbage bins became full, students piled trash into the recycling bins,” said Suma Abid, an Anti-Litter coordinator.
“By continuing with campaigns focusing on these types of awareness programs, we can gradually change student behaviour so that the UTM community can naturally behave in a way that will significantly reduce the amount of litter produced,” said Micheline Khan, another Anti-Litter coordinator.
During the campaign when tabletops were covered in garbage, some students moved garbage onto the floor or on the other side of the table instead of throwing it out. “We have one of the greenest campuses and it almost undermines [the campus’s] uniqueness if garbage production continues at this high level,” said Darcie McNiell, Anti-Litter coordinator and Environment Week coordinator.
The Green Team brought to the forefront an awareness of the amount of garbage produced in a relatively short period of time and the impact this could have on the environment. The coordinators hope to continue running this event in future years
to continue to promote anti-littering behaviours from the UTM community.