Mississauga's 'Trash Walking Mom' tries to tackle the city's litter problem

At least once a week, Port Credit's Cindy Wilding grabs a trash picker, some gloves and a bucket, and goes out to take Mississauga's litter problem into her own hands.

Port Credit resident dedicates at least an hour a week to picking up trash left on city streets

Cindy Wilding, Mississauga's "Trash Walking Mom," cleans up the city's streets, one piece of litter at a time. (Cindy Wilding/Facebook)

The City of Toronto may need to remind residents not to put paper coffee cups in their recycling bins, but across the Greater Toronto Area, plenty of people opt for an even worse place leave them: right on the street.

And one Mississauga resident has made it her mission to clean up all those cups ... along with all the plastic water bottles, lids, pop cans, syringes, cigarette butts and other pieces of litter she comes across.

Cindy Wilding calls herself the "Trash Walking Mom." At least once a week, she gathers her trash picker, a pair of gloves and a bucket, picks a spot and takes a walk to pick up some garbage.

The Port Credit resident told host Gill Deacon of CBC's Here and Now that she started her hobby when she was walking her son to school one day. She noticed some broken glass on the ground, and decided to clean it up.

"As I picked it up I noticed more litter," she said. "I just started noticing it, and felt I had to do something about it."

Wilding has since started a Facebook page encouraging others to do the same in their own hometowns. "I've met, online, people from all over the world who are doing the exact same thing," she said. "That feels good, knowing I'm not alone."

Despite getting support online and from neighbours, she says not everyone understands what she's doing.

"Sometimes I get weird looks like, 'What's this crazy person doing, walking along picking up garbage?' but for the most part it's very positive."

"It's exercise," said Wilding. "Sometimes I go along the waterfront... it's almost kind of like a zen meditation. I'm just walking and picking, and walking and picking. I just kind of get lost in it for a while."

She has also found more peculiar items left out alongside the usual litter, including statues of Hindu deities, and the cover of a historic issue of Life Magazine.

Wilding knows that, despite her efforts, the litter will still be there.

"Part of the reason is, we just live in such a disposable society that people don't think twice about ... throwing something away."