Original illustration by Matt Hammill and Emily Tu for the Toronto Public Space Committee, poshed up by Jonathan Goldsbie.
Earlier this afternoon, Torontoist was explaining to an American friend the quirks of the process by which Torontonians are supposed to dispose of our coffee cups: pop the plastic lid off the paper cup and throw them both into the recycling bin—but don’t chuck the entire contraption while the two pieces are attached, because that screws everything up. (We love public works.) The City, we said, is currently spending tens of thousands of dollars on consultants to find a way to simplify this, which ideally will result in the development of a paper lid. Yes, it might be easier to create an educational campaign touting the virtues of removing the lid, but legislating that companies produce such PSAs on their own dime would likely be an even trickier proposition. Besides, the less plastic the better. That said, it’s hard to describe all this without laughing and using the words “fuckin’ crazy,” before finally admitting that the process the City is undertaking is actually not all that unreasonable.
So it’s probably a good thing that we were just talking to a friend and not the BBC. We couldn’t have kept a straight face. Not that keeping a straight face is Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker’s strong suit, either. The chair of the Works Committee, who usually “acts the way Pam McConnell dresses,” is a bit like the (relatively pleasant Jack Nicholson) Joker: always gleeful, often inexplicably so, and in a rather endearing way.
It’s thus fun to hear De Baermaeker try to play the straight man, defending the City’s integrity, on the BBC World Service’s The World Today (segment starts 48:49 in). He comes off much better than was implied by today’s Globe and Mail, but it’s still immensely entertaining listening to him put up with the wry British mockery, which begins subtly enough but eventually builds to the interviewer humouring him, “So you’re not running for Duce, but you will reform the coffee cup.” Quite right.