ontario provincial parks

Visitors to Ontario provincial parks are leaving garbage all over the place

Disposable cups, diapers, fridges full of trash — Ontario Provincial Park stewards are asking visitors to, please, stop leaving it behind. 

Campsites, parks, and beaches across the province are busier than ever this year, and it's resulted in a "disappointing increase in accumulated garbage," said Ontario Parks

The organization took to social media last week to share photos of some shocking messes, including empty bottles of alcohol and plastic cutlery in Algonquin Park, and trash scattered all over the ground at Wasaga Beach.

ontario provincial parks

Ontario Parks staff members have encountered massive messes at Wasaga Beach. Photo via Ontario Parks.

One picture showed a mini-fridge that had been left behind in Presqui'ile Provincial Park, with a jar of pickles, a bottle of maple syrup and — naturally — a whole bunch of maggots inside. 

"Visitors who come for just the day may leave even more behind, as they bring everything for a disposable family barbecue, including disposable cups, plates, cutlery, tablecloths, wrapping and containers," said a spokesperson for Ontario Parks.

"A lot of these items end up scattered on the ground."

The most common items left behind: single-use plastic bottle (the solution: reusable water bottles) and big items like tents, barbecues, tarps and shelters, which Ontario Parks says adds up fast. 

ontario parks camping toronto

A full fridge was left behind on a campsite in Presqui'ile Provincial Park. Photo via Ontario Parks.

But the worst culprit might be cigarette butts, which are "small, unsanitary, and can cause serious problems." They're also non-biodegradable and chemical-filled, with plastic fibers that don't break down organically.

"Cigarette butts have a huge impact on our wildlife, as they can be highly dangerous if swallowed by animals." 

Washroom etiquette has also taken a dive, says Ontario Parks, which says staff are seeing improper use of vault toilets, comfort stations and water taps.

Washing dishes in sinks or at water taps isn't allowed nor is flushing non-flushable items, which can cause plumbing emergencies. Whoever tried to dispose of the baby diaper down a toilet at Port Burwell clearly didn't get that memo. 

ontario parks camping

Improper washroom etiquette means litter and plumbing emergencies at provincial parks. Photo via Ontario Parks. 

All parks across Ontario are equipped with garbage receptacles, which are monitored daily, if not more regularly throughout the day in busy areas, but it's up to visitors to use them.

The park organization recommends checking out their blog to learn more about proper trash disposal and about camping with the leave no trace approach. 

"The most significant impact is the increase of interaction between people and animals," said Ontario Parks. "Our staff work hard to clear out litter, but Ontarians can make a big impact by gathering up garbage when they find it." 

If that mindful plea doesn't appeal to campers, maybe a reminder that the minimum fine for littering is $125 will. 

Lead photo by

Ontario Parks


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