Save the Planters




June 25, 2009

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WINNIPEG, MB—The Downtown BIZ and Take Pride Winnipeg! kicked off the first stage of a litter awareness campaign today that highlights the effects of litter on downtown’s streets and sidewalks to encourage Winnipeggers to help keep our downtown clean.

The campaign is a take off of an activist campaign, with staff chanting the slogan, “Save the Planters,” waving placards, and handing out buttons and flowers. Posters describe how every year, flowers in dozens of downtown planters are subjected to harsh treatment, choked by cigarette butts, discarded coffee cups and other litter.

“We’re trying to personalize the effect of litter to get the public to pay attention to this issue and pitch in,” says Stefano Grande, Downtown BIZ executive director.

While the Downtown BIZ Clean Team has litter mainly under control thanks to new partnerships, increased crews and new equipment, the BIZ and Take Pride are now tackling public littering habits and cleanliness perceptions in downtown Winnipeg. The “guerilla” campaign includes signage in and around downtown flower planters to make people think twice before they toss their coffee cup into the planters.

“We want to show Winnipeggers the damaging effects of their littering,” says Grande. “While our Clean Team is out on the streets daily picking up litter, it’s a constant battle to keep downtown clean. We could really see a difference in the tough-to-clean spots in flower planters, tree grates, and bus shelters if people simply use garbage and recycling bins.”

“We want not only to bring awareness of the litter problem in downtown Winnipeg, but to show citizens that by one piece at a time, they can have a cleaner neighbourhood,” says Take Pride Winnipeg! executive director Tom Ethans. “After finishing a take-out coffee or candy bar, keep the cup or wrapper in your hands until you reach a litter receptacle. This keeps the sidewalks clean and the flowers happy!”

Also new this summer, the BIZ is cleaning downtown bus shelters daily. Fifteen new waste receptacles were also installed throughout downtown this month by the City.

The new campaign builds on last year’s anti-cigarette butt litter campaign that the BIZ launched to encourage smokers to butt out in newly installed cigarette butt receptacles. The BIZ installed 27 cigarette butt receptacles at strategic locations and put out signage to show the effects of cigarette litter, with the headline “BIZ crews pick up 125 cigarette butts off each block of downtown every day. That’s over 45,000 a year! Just imagine if we didn’t…” According to Take Pride Winnipeg!, up to 28% of litter is cigarette butts.

Downtown cleanliness is a priority for the Downtown BIZ, which has 20 Clean Team staff in the summer dedicated to litter removal, sidewalk sweeping, flower watering and tending, graffiti removal, poster removal, and more. Portage and Graham avenues are sidewalk vacuumed every weekday morning before 9am. The BIZ picks up over 5,000 bags of litter every year. In addition to the BIZ and the City’s efforts, approximately one million pounds of litter is collected from city streets each year by Take Pride Winnipeg! volunteers. The BIZ also offers downtown businesses free pressure washing during the summer. The City and Siloam Mission’s Mission: Off the Streets Team (MOST) add to the clean-and-green efforts.

Other BIZ programs also contribute to an interesting and beautiful urban environment, including 102 hanging flower baskets along Portage Avenue, art bike racks on Broadway, street banners, large scale photos in walkway windows overlooking Portage, and more.

While this latest campaign targets downtown workers, shoppers, and residents, Take Pride Winnipeg! continues to educate the public on better litter habits through many city-wide programs.


For more information, please contact:

Jennifer Verch, Manager, Communications & Marketing

Ph: (204) 958-4626   Cell: 297-0219