In “Litter Bugs” (Dec./Jan. 2003) Usman Valiante wrote about litter audit methodologies, and he referred to Keep America Beautiful (KAB) as being staffed by well-intentioned and unwitting individuals.
Winnipeg is one of three Canadian cities affiliated with KAB. As the executive director of Take Pride Winnipeg, a non-profit organization, I think that Mr. Valiante doesn’t realize the scope of our programs and services.
The mandate of Take Pride Winnipeg is to inspire community pride, raise public awareness and promote citizen responsibility in making the city of Winnipeg clean and beautiful. Funded partly by the City of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba, foundations and many private corporations, including BFI Canada and Manitoba Product Stewardship Corporation, Take Pride Winnipeg provides programs and services to all parts of the city.
We coordinate a spring and fall litter cleanup (for individuals and businesses) every year with over 30,000 volunteers for the spring campaign (“May I Help”) and 24,000 for the one day “Fall, Pick Me Up.” Take Pride Winnipeg also hires summer students to paint over graffiti throughout the city. Take Pride Winnipeg has commissioned over 150 murals since 1997, using local artists to depict Winnipeg’s past, present and future as well as its multiculturalism and nature.
Take Pride has developed educational programs for the schools in Winnipeg. The Mentor Program is five one-hour classes taught by high school students for grades four and five students about litter control, graffiti control, pride and the environment. In 2001 there were over 200 high school students teaching the program in over 120 elementary classrooms. A newsletter about the environment, pride etc. goes to every elementary school in the city (50,000 copies per issue) offering students a chance to learn about ways they can help their city.
In addition, we have a program called Teens Pro Winnipeg for middle school students to be proactive in making their community better places to live (from raking leaves to performing at senior centres). We are just starting a new program Take Pride in reading for kindergarten to grade 3 students (70 schools and over 9,000 students are signed up for the first year of this program).
We work closely with schools, government, businesses and individuals to make our city better. Through KAB we are working on a campaign on cigarette litter funded in part by Philip Morris. Our kick-off breakfast for 2,500 school children for the spring cleanup campaign has been funded by Coca-Cola, Manitoba Milk Producers and McDonald’s, just to name a few companies.
Mr. Valiante, litter is the responsibility of everyone, from manufacturers to the citizen throwing trash out of his car window. We must all work together to reduce the amount of litter going into landfills, to recycle more, to compost, and more in order to keep our country clean.
The other day a man told me that he threw a candy wrapper out of his car window (a year ago) — his four year daughter said “Dad, you’re going to make somebody cry.” He stopped, went back and picked up his litter and has never littered since. We wouldn’t need litter audit methodologies if everyone was responsible like that.
Take Pride Winnipeg!