The ways in which we dispose of garbage can seriously damage water, as well as the wildlife species that depend on that water. We have all been told to reduce, reuse, and recycle to keep our garbage to a minimum, but despite this, the average Canadian produces several kilograms of trash every week.
Much of this garbage is trucked to sanitary landfills. These sites must be carefully selected so that wastes don't pollute our surface waters or leak into groundwater. Different types of garbage should be separated at the dump site, and waste material should be covered with a layer of dirt on a regular basis. Poorly planned disposal areas and improper choice of landfill sites can seriously pollute streams, lakes, and groundwater.
- Call your local municipal office to find out where your community disposes of trash. Arrange to visit the site.
- Interview the official responsible for the site to find out what pollution control measures are being used.
- Follow up your visit with a "Thank you" note.
- If you suspect that the site is a pollution hazard, you can do something about it. Consult our "Down-in-the-Dumps Checklist" to determine whether the site may be an environmental threat.
- Ask to attend a municipal council meeting to report your findings. Consult with a biologist or fish and wildlife expert beforehand to find out how wildlife and habitat can be affected by a poorly managed waste site. Support from experts will give your presentation more weight.
- Talk to local media and circulate petitions to alert area residents to the problem.
- Brainstorm with other community members and groups for ways to remedy the situation.
- Try to make it a cooperative effort as opposed to an "us-versus-them" confrontation.
- Continue to monitor the situation. Change won't take place overnight, but steady pressure from informed citizens like you can move mountains in time. It's a good idea to follow up this sort of project on a yearly basis.