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Citizens Against Litter

April 2006 Newslitter

In this Newslitter: Earth Day/Great PA Cleanup; People who care; Get your mind in the gutter -- and your garbage out!; Buried treasure; No end to litter; About blowing noses; Wow! Howe!; Garbagevilles; Clean and safe; Giving litter the boot; Great alleys; Alley oops; Counting Walnuts; Recounting Walnuts; Confessions of a litter-gatherer; Ask Mr. Litterman

Earth Day/Great PA Cleanup

Earth Day and the Great PA Cleanup is Saturday, April 22. In many neighborhoods, this is a special day when merchants and residents come together and clean up streets, alleys, ignored lots and grassy places. In Shadyside, for many of us, Earth Day is every day. "Redding up" happens all the time, and it shows.

For those Earth Day/Great PA Cleanup participants, you should know a Cleanup After Party is scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. at the Vietnam Veteran's Pavilion in Schenley Park. There will be food, drink, and music. Sounds like fun.

People who care

The complete saying is, "People who care must pick up for people who don't care and litter." It's not that bad. Ideally, the 13,000 people who live in Shadyside and the retail merchants in business there should pick up litter in their own little plot of the world. It's never going happen. Never. But do you realize that the 40 to 50 Citizens Against Litter volunteers who are on the street do a pretty good job of keeping litter under control for 13,000 residents. We welcome more volunteers. If you have a passion against litter, consider joining our group. E-mail We'll assign you into a zone near your home and you can participate as often as your schedule permits.

Get your mind in the gutter -- and your garbage out!

When it comes to litter, your mind should be in the gutter. Many Pittsburghers have this thing about sweeping and picking up. They're OK cleaning their sidewalks but, often, they sweep the stuff from sidewalks into gutters and stop. Job over. In their minds, lifting litter off streets is the city's job. As a result, sidewalks are swept; gutters remain dirty. It's a Pittsburgh thing.

Buried treasure

Not exactly. For almost a year, a volunteer has called the Shopping Cart Retrieval Service at 412-963-2380, reporting three shopping carts squirreled away in a corner off the parking lot of the apartment building at the corner of Fifth and St. James. Most of the time the service is very responsive. That's how they make their money. The more "illegally borrowed" carts they return to use, the more they make. In this particular case, the carts -- probably worth hundreds of dollars -- remain buried.

No end to litter

It's the end of winter but not the end of litter.

Kids go back inside schools after breaks but their litter trails remain outside.

Earth Day (April 22) will come and go but it's not the end of litter.

Volunteers will look with civic pride at cleaner streets but it's not the end of litter.

Parties on porches end and anti-litter pickups begin.

Parks will soon become crowded and litter won't be far behind.

More trash containers on Walnut Street are wonderful but it's still not the end of litter.

Lucky you. This item has ended.

About blowing noses

There's nothing wrong with blowing your nose and using a tissue. In fact, they say that's preferred over using a handkerchief. (And it's a whole lot more sanitary than using your hands.) But with one year under our belt picking up litter, this volunteer has yet to pick up his first handkerchief. On the other hand, he picks up tissues by the hundreds. Tissues have become #1 on our Lit Parade. There are more tissues-turned-into-litter than things like advertising fliers, cigarette packs, plastic water bottles, coffee cups and lids, crushed beer/pop cans, beer bottles, lost gloves, fast food wrappers and bags, pages from free newspapers, and newspaper circulars. And another thing. Tissues may be a good thing for noses but they're a sight for sore eyes because white tissue litter stands out like a sore thumb.

Wow! Howe!

Right smack in the middle of Shadyside on a very pretty street with homes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, volunteers come across some rental properties that aren't so pretty. Specifically, there are empty garbage cans and overflowing garbage cans in three front yards. Rubbish and trash from a renovation project on the front porch of a fourth house make another unsightly mess. How do Howe Street homeowners put up with it? Complain to Public Works if you want to put a stop to it.


Shadyside has its share. Here are some that our volunteers came across in March.

Clean and safe

Let's play One Question.

Q: Do eight newspapers on the steps and front porch of a house qualify as litter or a target for a break in?
A: Both, according to our anti-litter experts and the police.

Giving litter the boot

The call was for "help" on Clyde Street. Litter was returning like the old days. Neighborly volunteers came to the rescue of a volunteer who lives on the street. Cleaned things up. A return inspection the following week found Clyde Street litter-free and the street avoids the "Garbageville" tag.

Great alleys

It's not easy keeping alleys clear of litter and garbage. Why? Because houses back into alleys and that's where garbage cans and garages are. So when you see alleys looking as clean or cleaner than the streets houses front, maybe you make a big deal of it. From time to time this Newslitter will list "Great Alleys."

Alley oops

And then there are the alleys that aren't kept so clean. Litter and garbage are on streets, around garbage cans and large waste containers, and overturned garbage containers. Sturdy weeds are pushing through brick and clinging to poles, tree bottoms and sides of garages. Here are some not-so-great alleys.

Counting Walnuts

Walnut Street on March 9 at 2:30 p.m. looked clean. Almost clean enough to spread a tablecloth and eat off the street. A volunteer spent a few minutes evaluating litter conditions more closely and counting litter. On both sides of the street from Aiken to Negley he counted 114 pieces of litter. All small with the exception of one beer bottle and one plastic soft drink bottle. No cigarette boxes, no advertising fliers, no fast food drink containers, no newspaper sections flying around, no green or blue plastic bags. Not even white facial tissues or ATM station receipts on the sidewalk. Ten per cent of the litter was in the gutter, sidewalk and grassy places of National City Bank, fronting Walnut.

Recounting Walnuts

Walnut Street on March 15 at 9:30 a.m. was cleaner. Walking the length of Walnut from Negley to Aiken, a volunteer counted only 30 pieces of teeny, weenie litter, with the exception of one plastic water bottle and one coffee container. Again, most of the litter was in front of National City to Negley.

Confessions of a litter-gatherer

I need to come clean. Over the past several months, my contributions as a Citizen Against Litter were not all that they could be. My twice-weekly patrol became twice-monthly. The Pittsburgh winter got to me. Short days, grey skies, cold winds, and wet weather discouraged me and slowed my efforts.

But not any more. Spring may finally be here to stay, and with it comes hope and a renewed focus. Out on my route this morning with nary a piece of winter clothing, I listened to the birds singing, noticed the green buds on the trees, and looked behind me at the litter-free street that I helped create. It felt good, and I was glad to be a part of it. I hope you all are too.

-- Jake Krohn, Zone 6

Ask Mr. Litterman

Q: What? No "I Litter" awards this month?
A: That's right. Businesses must have declared a holiday against litter in March. Advertising fliers were hard to find on the street.

Q: Based on what you've experienced in Shadyside, how many volunteers do you think it would take to do the job of controlling litter in the city's 88 neighborhoods?
A: My guess is 1,200 to 1,500, an average of 13 to 17 volunteers per neighborhood. There's a challenge.

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