“Don’t Mess with the Don”. A clear statement, also the name of local Toronto organization founded by a small group of trail runners with one mission – Protecting the Don Valley.
The Don Valley is a natural “wilderness” area in the heart of the city. It’s a small oasis for trail runners, hikers, and trail bikers alike.
Users of this trail system along the Don River are previewed to a peak behind the curtain of something most Torontonians don’t see. A landfill quantity of waste exists from illegal dumping and litter from nearby rental complexes that tower over the defenceless valley.
To the users of the trails in the Don Valley, enough was enough. With very little support from the city, “Don’t Mess with the Don” created a cleanup event to hopefully restore some nature among all of the garbage.
The response from sharing the event with the organization’s network of outdoor enthusiasts and trail runners was beyond their wildest dreams.
“We had such an unbelievable response online with people interested in the cleanup, we actually thought we were being spammed by online bots”. – Irene van der Top, co-founder of Don’t Mess with the Don.
Nearly 90% of all the garbage picked up from the cleanup was single use plastic. Namely plastic water-bottles and plastic grocery bags from the neighbouring Metro.
Per capita, Canada creates more garbage waste than any other country in the world. As Ontario continues to debate the use of single use plastic, our natural world is literally drowning.
The cleanup helped Ontario save tens of thousands of dollars in man hours. With approximately 1000 volunteers picking up garbage over the course of four hours.
Over 1000 bags of garbage were collected and later picked up by the city.
You would be surprised to learn that the local group was charged $600 dollars to apply for a permit for the event. A clear indicator there’s a massive disconnect between our government and conservation.
“People are making the connection that there wild spaces in their own cities that they can get out and appreciate, and not only to enjoy, but to take care of. – Timothy Lytle, Arc’teryx Community Marketing
“We’re avid users of the Don Valley so it’s great to be able to give back and clean the place that we enjoy using.” – Charles Kent, Salomon Marketing
After spending the day interviewing volunteers, young and old, it’s encouraging to see that conservation is at the forefront of so many people’s minds. Awareness of individual actions and understanding that it is people that make the difference, not law lawmakers.
To Learn more about the Don’t Mess with the Don initiative visit the organization’s website here.