For many years, Rotary Club Ottawa South (RCOS) has participated in the City of Ottawa's Cleaning Up the Capital initiative. Due to COVID, it was rather delayed this year, but several members hit the streets around the Ottawa Rotary Home this past Saturday. Guess what we found...
Perhaps the headline should have read, "What... People STILL Litter?! Yes, as we watch parts of the country burn out of control due to human-influenced weather catastrophes and read about the dire state of our environment due to burning fossil fuels, we still toss garbage out car windows and drop cigarette butts on the ground. Despite the environmental state we currently find ourselves in, many people (Rotarians included) feel we need to act differently and work towards positive change. 
Cleaning up the roadside at Bank Street and Rotary Way may not solve our weather woes, but it is the type of civic action that can help affect change. On Saturday morning, September 25, several Rotary Club Ottawa South members pitched in and picked up trash along the roads and ditches. And now, that corner of the world is indeed a better place. Thanks to Kateri Clark, Vic Chawla and their daughter Ishita Chawla, Linda Scales, Joan Hunter, Peter Pauker, Bill and Sherri Kelly, and Scott Vetter. The group were encouraged by the Chawla's dog, Quill. With many hands to help, and the odd paw, it only took a couple hours to pick up and bag the trash. The City of Ottawa provided the bags and disposable gloves.
The number of cigarette butts alongside the roads was more than any of us could count, and the number of empty water bottles was countable, but nonetheless discouraging. Good that people are drinking water rather than pop... maybe they'll start using refillable water bottles to save some money and the environment. There were several small signs (FYI, it ceases to be good marketing when your sign ends up as roadside trash.), bags of coffee cups, pop bottles and fast-food packaging, and Ishita found a 1976 motorcycle license plate - almost 30 years older than she is!
Overall, there was less trash this year than other years. Perhaps due to COVID and less traffic, or perhaps people are littering less and taking more conscious care of our planet. Let's hope that it's an intentional and positive trend. We'll let you know next year.