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Keeping Nature Clean: The Impact of Litter at Royal Botanical Gardens

May 14, 2024

By Cassandra Doria, Communications Officer, Royal Botanical Gardens

As the not-for-profit caretaker of 2,400 acres of land and ecosystems, Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) holds a profound commitment to preserving and protecting the environment. In honor of Provincial Day of Action on Litter, we reflect on the significance of maintaining cleanliness in our gardens and beyond. Littering is not merely a cosmetic concern; it poses a significant threat to the delicate ecosystems we work tirelessly to conserve.

Picture this: you’re strolling through our gardens and trails, enjoying the beauty of nature, only to encounter discarded plastic bottles, wrappers, and other debris scattered along the pathways. Not only does litter detract from the visual appeal of our surroundings and disrupt your experience, but it also has far-reaching consequences for the flora and fauna that call RBG home.

One of the most concerning impacts of littering at RBG is its effect on our marshes. Every year, several kilograms of litter find their way into these vital wetland habitats, disrupting the delicate balance of aquatic life. Plastic bags, bottles, and other non-biodegradable materials can choke or entangle wildlife, posing a direct threat to their survival. Additionally, the chemicals leaching from litter into the water can contaminate the environment, harming plants, animals, and ultimately, the entire ecosystem.

  • Staff holding tires that they have pulled out of Cootes Paradise
  • Snake at Cootes Paradise with a plastic ring around its body
  • Staff posing with canoe full of garbage pulled from a shoreline cleanup
  • garbage from spencer creek clean up organized flat on the ground

Images from shoreline cleanups at Cootes Paradise and Spencer’s Creek.

But the repercussions of littering extend beyond our property lines. As litter washes into nearby waterways, it can contribute to pollution in our lakes and rivers, threatening water quality and aquatic biodiversity. Plastic pollution, in particular, has become a global crisis, with devastating impacts on marine life and ecosystems worldwide. By reducing littering, we can play a part in mitigating this pressing environmental issue.

At RBG, we are committed to promoting environmental stewardship and fostering a culture of respect for nature. As an educator and experience creator, RBG offers diverse cultural, artistic, and culinary experiences across its network of gardens and natural areas to ensure our community understands the importance of a balanced relationship between people and nature.

Through these educational programs, experiences, and active conservation efforts, we strive to raise awareness about the importance of preserving our natural heritage. But we cannot do it alone; we need your help.

On Provincial Day of Action on Litter and every day, we urge our visitors to join us in keeping our gardens clean and litter-free. Dispose of waste responsibly, recycle whenever possible, and spread the word about the importance of conservation. Together, we can ensure that Royal Botanical Gardens remains a sanctuary of beauty and biodiversity for generations to come.

Let’s work together to protect our planet, one piece of litter at a time.

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