Photo of the Day: The Scourge of Plastic Bags and Garbage, Even at Aga Khan Park, and Prince Hussain Aga Khan on Individual Responsibility to Protect the Environment


Publisher/Editor  SimergphotosBarakah and Simerg

Before, you didn’t see plastic in the sea. Now it is everywhere. I see plastic each and every time I go on an expedition. In Egypt, in the Philippines, in Indonesia, in the Bahamas, in Sardinia…Wherever I go I always find plastic” — Prince Hussain Aga Khan

Plastic Bags Aga Khan Park Photo of the Day
Photo of the Day: A plastic bag carelessly left on the grounds of Aga Khan Park gets blown by strong Toronto winds, and ends up resting high up on tree #51 at the park; March 29, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simergphotos.

My eyes opened early on the morning of Monday, March 29, 2021 and what a sight to behold as I looked out through the loft windows. In front of me, was the moon illuminated at 99.3%. Picture taking sprung into my head, but it was also time to pray. I thought to myself I would then sleep for another couple of hours. I prayed for around 30 minutes. I tried to sleep and partially succeeded for about 45 minutes, but that moonlight I had seen earlier had awakened my senses and lighted my heart and soul. At the same time, I felt happy that I had been vaccinated against Covid-19 a few days earlier. I was of course inspired by the Talika (written message) of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, in which he said that “we should not give credence to any misinformation regarding the vaccination process, and comparisons between the different officially sanctioned vaccines.” My focus had been on getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and when I read the Imam’s message and was offered AstraZeneca I immediately took advantage of the vaccine. He had said in his Talika, “I recommend that all my murids should accept to be vaccinated in accordance with the directives of their respective health authorities as soon as the vaccines are offered.” I acted in accordance with his guidance.

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Moon illuminated at 99.3% is pictured at 7:16 AM on the morning of March 29, 2021, shortly after sunrise at the opposite end. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simergphotos.

At around 7:16 AM, about 10 minutes after sunrise, I took a number of photos of the moon from the loft area, which has high windows. I then prepared a small breakfast and drove to the Aga Khan Park. I finished the coffee and the cheese sandwich in my warm car, and set off for my walk. It was 3°C. Now, I needed to find something unique, as I had published numerous posts about the Aga Khan Museum, the Aga Khan Park and the Ismaili Centre under different settings. There was nothing extraordinary about Monday, March 29! What might be different this time? The sight of an animal? Or me recording the soothing chirping of the birds? Yes, indeed, I wanted them chirping on tree #49, just as a bird the other day had positioned itself at top of the flag of the Ismaili Imamat (see PHOTO OF THE DAY). I was particularly interested in tree 49 because the number refers to my beloved Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, who is the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Ismailis, directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) and Imam Ali (A.S.), the first Shia Imam. When I got to the tree, there were no birds to be found on the tree and other trees that were around it. I was excited to note that the buds had grown since my last photo of the same tree a few days earlier. But there was an object on the tree that disturbed me. I saw a plastic bag hanging on the tree, a few metres above the ground, but I could not reach it. And another tree close by, #51, also had a plastic bag stuck on its branches, even higher up than the bag stuck on #49.

My wife and I have completely stopped using plastic in our house. It took us months and a lot of effort to get to it, but we no longer use plastic– Prince Hussain Aga Khan

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Garbage at Aga Khan Park, Photo of the Day. Malik Merchant, Simerg,
All kinds of objects including plastic bags, pop cans, Pizza boxes and coffee cups left by careless visitors at Aga Khan Park end up against this chain linked metal fence dividing the Park from Eglington Avenue. Toronto is a windy city. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simergphotos.

Toronto can be very breezy, and when careless and irresponsible people throw objects and plastic bags on the ground, where do they end up? Yes, a few plastic bags on trees as on trees #49 and #51! And where else? All around the grounds of the Aga Khan Park. In most cases, on the south-east or south-west side of the Park, behind the Ismaili Centre, the strength of the wind carries lighter objects as well as plastic material to a chain-linked metal fence dividing the Aga Khan Park from Eglington Avenue, where it gets lodged until a clean-up is carried out. I have seen with my own eyes individuals not using the nearby garbage cans and instead throwing Pizza boxes, McDonald wrappers, Tim Hortons coffee cups, pop cans and other objects on the grounds of the Aga Khan Park. The sight at the iron fence was ugly. Then, when I started going in the direction of the Jamatkhana with its magnificent dome, I saw more litter on the ground. A piece of unwanted object spoilt the beautiful view of the dome under blue skies!

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Garbage on grounds of Aga Khan Park in Toronto. Careless and irresponsible visitors.Simerg
A beautiful view of the dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana is spoilt by pieces of garbage left on the grounds of the Aga Khan Park by careless and irresponsible individuals. March 29, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simergphotos.

Well, why choose these photos as “Photo of the Day.” I want to draw the visitors’ attention to their responsibilities when visiting gardens and parks. If you have items that you eat and drink, please walk 25 to 50 metres to a garbage can to discard your left overs, empty boxes and cans — not in front of you. A few weeks ago, on an unexpectedly warm day, I saw two visitors drinking beer which is prohibited by Municipal Law in all parks, unless a permit has been granted for special occasions. Then, I saw them throwing the empty beer cans beside the bench where they were seated. I watched this for a few minutes, and threatened that I would call security. A passer feeling for my safety told me, “Do not irritate them further. You are by yourself here, and you want to be careful.” I walked away! And the two friends left with their beer cans and crate, I think, because I mentioned the word security.

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Plastic Bags and Garbage at Aga Khan Park. Photo of the Day
A plastic bag carelessly left on the grounds of Aga Khan Park gets blown by strong Toronto winds, and ends up resting on tree #49 at the park. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simergphotos.


Garbage at Aga Khan Park, and
A cigarette lighter, at bottom of photo, and other objects are strewn across Aga Khan Park, spoiling an otherwise beautiful view of the grounds. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simergphotos.

I have published Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s quotes because he cares about the environment and wants us to act responsibly. He has seen with his own eyes how we are destroying the environment, and says that both his wife and him have eliminated the use of plastic in their house. “It took us months and a lot of effort to get to it, but we no longer use plastic”, he said in a telephone interview with “Out of Series.” Going beyond plastics, Prince Hussain adds, “I turn off the lights if they are not necessary, I turn off the water tap when it is not necessary to have it open. I believe that these individual behaviors have their effect.”

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Another photo of objects that get blown from the grounds of the Aga Khan Park onto this chain linked metal fence that divides the park from the Eglington Avenue intersection, off the Don Valley Parkway. March 29, 2021, Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simergphotos.

Now that the weather is warmer, everyone should assume the responsibility of cleaning up the parks and gardens that we visit so that they can be enjoyed in a setting of beauty and tranquility without having to be distracted by objects left behind by visitors that are unworthy of the park’s natural habitat. We are also now into the spring season, and this is the ideal time when the park’s beauty could be seen to the fullest advantage with the blooming of flowers and trees, the greening of grass, and a feeling of rejuvenation.

Finally it is to be hoped that the Aga Khan Park will consider educating the public about plastic bags and bottles as well as other materials that harm the beauty and habitat of the park and the area around the ponds.

Date posted: March 29, 2021.
Last updated: April 2, 2021 (The editor – author of this piece – is pleased to report that all the garbage against the metal fencing has been removed and the entire Aga Khan Park looks very much cleaner than it did when this article was posted. It appears though that plastic bags left behind by careless visitors get blown to the upper branches of trees, as the editor did notice additional plastic bags hanging from the upper branches of trees during his visit on April 2.


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