By Oliver Berger –

There is ample talk out there about recycling and reducing our waste as a society to curb our big garbage problem. We discuss consumerism coupled with resource consumption adding a burden to our planet. We are all bombarded with plastics in our lives poisoning the food we eat and killing our wildlife. What is the real problem here?

Oliver Berger at Scout Island Nature Centre in Williams Lake. Photo: Lisa Bland

I keep finding myself returning to one main issue that we as a society seem to look at with a faded vision.


The real problem with our waste, especially plastics, is when they end up in the natural environment rather than in a controlled environment like a landfill or recycling facility. Plastic, for instance, never goes away. It continuously breaks down into smaller pieces until it is minute enough to make it into the mouths of animals or, even worse, our bloodstreams. Indigestible, animals all over the world are dying and choking on our leftovers.

Plastics in the landfill contribute to methane gas emissions, yes. Most plastics can be recycled; however, few make it to the correct location and we burn a lot of fossil fuels to make it happen. Many cities are trying to adopt single-use plastic bans or fees to tackle this issue. These are hopefully all valuable steps in the right direction, but are they enough?

We have to manage our waste more responsibly. We need to take better care that what we leave behind cannot hurt the fragile natural environment around us. We should be stricter with littering fines, and it should not be okay to toss your cigarette butt on the ground or out your car window!

Littering has many forms. To me littering is when a non-natural substance enters our natural environment. So that could entail toxic smoke into the atmosphere, oil leaking onto our roadways, garbage flying out of the back of our pickup trucks, and even chemical fertilizers sprayed onto our precious soils. All these things are currently happening with no real personal consequences.

We can seriously make a difference if all unnatural things entering our natural world did not.

Now, this is a huge task; however, we do have some leverage. It is currently illegal to dump your garbage in the forest. How often does someone get fined for something like this? According to RAPP (Report All Poachers & Polluters), in 2018 they issued 18 fines province-wide. WTF? This probably has a lot to do with poaching taking priority and the under-funding of issues. As well, if you don’t have valid proof of the person actually dumping the material, no charges can be laid. Detailed information can be found at this link:

So I ask you please… when you see anyone polluting our natural environment with something foreign, call them on it. We all share this beautiful planet and rely on it to survive. You have the right to say something. You might start with… “Hey pal… littering ain’t cool!”

If you are interested in helping out with local litter picks stay tuned to your social media. Williams Lake organized a city-wide clean up on May 11 of this year and more are to follow. The Cariboo-Chilcotin Conservation Society is planning a litter pick day on September 21 to pair with World Clean Up Day. Last year over 150 countries and 15 million people took part in this initiative. Now that’s what I call making a dent!

Check out these hashtags as well…#makelitterpickingcool #trashtag #endalllitter #beachcleanup

Oliver Berger has a 37-year degree in life, starting out in the Spokin Lake area, spending adolescence in Williams Lake, and then venturing throughout the world on a quest of always learning new things. His priorities include dedication to and education about waste management.


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