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Citizens Against Litter

January 2006 Newslitter

In this Newslitter: People behind Citizens Against Litter; "Litter Outreach" in Mr. Litterman's Neighborhood; Walnut Street sweep; The big mess on Walnut Street; Picking up is catching on; Pick of the litter; "I Litter" awards; Your Lit Parade; Clean Pittsburgh Commission; Ask Mr. Litterman

People behind Citizens Against Litter

Here's hoping 2006 will be a continuation of the cleaner Shadyside we experienced in 2005. A lot of people are responsible. People who were supportive of Citizens Against Litter when it was a new idea and as it became a movement. Some of these special people are:

Barbara Cloud, who devoted a Sunday column to litter in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. An advocate against litter for over 35 years, Barbara applauded one citizen's passion to start a neighborhood initiative in Shadyside.

Robin Troy of the North Side. She and her children labeled Pittsburgh "Garbageville" in a Letter to the Editor. The Troys coined the word comparing dirty Pittsburgh to five cleaner cities the family had just visited.

A January 1, 2005 editorial on New Year's resolutions in the Post-Gazette challenged Pittsburghers to sweep away "our national reputation as a dirty city."

Gregg Caliguiri and Richard Rattner, of the Shadyside Chamber of Commerce, threw their support behind the idea.

Nancy Polinsky Johnson, editor of Shady Avenue magazine, jump-started the initiative with an article, "Trash Talking," in the spring.

Tom Waseleski and John Allison of the Post-Gazette printed one citizen's first person opinion editorial, "I am picking up litter," on April 2. It made the telephone ring and e-mail sing. Citizens Against Litter grew from one person to 20 volunteers almost overnight.

David Shribman, Post-Gazette executive editor, commented on the opinion editorial in an e-mail. "Hooray for you. I agree completely. I've been here for two years and I am stunned at the litter." There are endorsements and there are endorsements. This was an ENDORSEMENT.

Jake Krohn, Mary Connolly, Ann Young and Carl DiFeo. They are Citizens Against Litter volunteers along with 30 to 40 others. What makes them extra special is they don't live in Shadyside. Jake lives in Bloomfield. Mary and Ann live in Oakland. Carl lives in East Pittsburgh.

All "signed on" volunteers and "silent-citizens" that bend and pick up litter regularly and make our neighborhood cleaner.

Finally, the non-litterers who never littered in the first place and the new non-litterers who now think twice and don't litter anymore. Our numbers are growing.

"Litter Outreach" in Mr. Litterman's Neighborhood

Look what we're going to do. Shadyside anti-litter volunteers, many residents, property owners and persons in charge of properties do a super job picking up and controlling litter. As important, though, are efforts at prevention.

One of the goals of Citizens Against Litter is making litter control top of mind. We feel we should be spreading the message: Please don't litter and do your share to prevent litter throughout Mr. Litterman's Neighborhood.

We are working on a litter outreach program to meet and talk with owners and responsible persons who manage significant real estate: hospitals churches, synagogues, schools, office buildings, apartments, condo associations, shopping centers, and businesses.

We want to tell and remind them about Citizens Against Litter, about the dozens of volunteers and many residents who are trying to keep our neighborhood clean. We will visit property owners and institution managers and urge them to go the extra mile and do their part to keep their real estate free of litter. We will ask them to sweep and pick up litter from grassy places, sidewalks, streets and gutters on and around their property.

If everyone does his or her part, our neighborhood will be cleaner.

Litter Outreach will start soon. We'll keep you informed of our progress.

Walnut Street sweep

Sharing a great feeling that occurred about a month ago. It is Thursday, December 1, at 9:15 a.m. and Walnut Street is almost as clean as a whistle. It's really nice to see. During the busiest time of the year, a volunteer picks up only a dozen pieces of litter from Aiken Ave. to Ivy St. Our signature street is clean because people are littering less, merchants are sweeping and picking up more and, probably, the street vacuum operator has just completed his work. For whatever reasons, it's good to see. The Walnut Street business district is cleaner than most similar places in the city. Shoppers, residents and other visitors appreciate the look and feeling of clean.

The big mess on Walnut Street

Three weeks later. Same street. Different experience. It's Monday, December 19. The first weekday after the peak holiday shopping weekend and Walnut Street trash containers are overflowing and trash is mounting on sidewalks, the street and gutters. Trashcans are not emptied. Public Works goofed. Don't blame merchants and streetwalkers. The street is a mess. There's no excuse for situation. Sunday's snow showers are not a factor. This is unfair to merchants, shoppers, diners, strollers, and the community. During the holidays or anytime.

Many complaints have been made to Public Works. No action was taken Tuesday. Finally, trashcans were emptied Wednesday morning. "Sorries" don't cut it.

I have been living in Shadyside for 12 years. I have never seen Walnut Street as dirty as it was Wednesday, December 21. Walnut Street has more litter AFTER the trash containers were finally emptied as before. It's obvious that Public Works employees made no attempt to swoop up overflowing litter caused by their lack of cleanup on trash collection day.

Removing litter and garbage in Pittsburgh must begin with the people who work for the city. What's the expression? "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

In the last two weeks before 2005 ends, I amend my first "Annual No-Bull Prize for Litter." The award went to a restaurant that litters Walnut Street with advertising fliers. Not anymore. The hands-down winner is the Public Works district and crew with the responsibility to empty trashcans on Walnut Street. What they failed to do on Monday, December 19, and what they did and did not do on Wednesday, December 21, may never be topped.

Picking up is catching on

Fan mail #1.

"I have adopted the practice of picking up litter on Brookline Boulevard, Brookline's business district, while I walk my dog," a fan e-mailed. "He's a smaller dog that is growing old so he doesn't walk very fast. This enables me to pick up litter as we go. Using your tips of plastic grocery bags and hitting smaller areas more frequently, each night we do a different section. At first it seemed like an insurmountable job, but even though some people are filthy pigs in this section of the city, I am noticing that it seems like my work is making a difference after a few months.

I also wrote an article on litter for the South Pittsburgh Development Corporation (the local community group here) community newsletter. I gave credit to your techniques as reported in your newsletter and the Post-Gazette article which you were featured. It is due to be sent to every household in Brookline. Perhaps others will take up this cause."

Pick of the litter

Fan mail #2.

"I was sitting here at the computer thinking about litter and typed in 'picking up litter' and pulled up your story. Great story and I hope it will be an inspiration to many to give you a helping hand in keeping our world clean. I also pick up litter and find that it is so easy to do just by getting my walking exercise. My husband and I keep 3 miles of road clean. Keep on writing and spread the word. Litter is a big problem. Most people are so accustomed to it; they don't even see it."

-- B. Edwards, North Carolina

"I Litter" awards

Their number is small but their advertising fliers sure make a mess of things on Walnut Street and side streets. We estimate these promotional pieces account for about 30 percent of the litter in the Walnut Street business district. There was less litter in December, probably because of the holidays, cold weather, and the snow. Among December's professional litterers were:

Your Lit Parade

This month's Lit Parade item is not about the kind of litter that is found on Shadyside streets. It's in the form of a New Year's wish. We wish new Mayor-elect O'Connor, city council members, and city department heads would set an example. Stage their own Lit Parade. Show how serious they are about making Pittsburgh cleaner by putting on gloves, arming themselves with plastic shopping bags, bending and picking up litter. If they would do this -- even if it were just for publicity purposes -- we think the new administration would be sending a powerful message to city residents: "We do what we want you to do."

Clean Pittsburgh Commission

Citizens Against Litter, Shadyside, is represented on the new 15-person Clean Pittsburgh Commission with an ambitious goal to lead and support efforts by neighborhood groups to make Pittsburgh cleaner and safer. The Commission has had two working meetings and a bus tour of several severely blighted neighborhoods since November. Sub-committees have been formed and are starting to put together plans and programs for Prevention, Cleanup, and Enforcement. Stay tuned for news.

Ask Mr. Litterman

Q. Are you a broken record? Same tune over and over again?
A. Yes, I'd say so. Here are four descriptions. Three are negative. Only one is positive. There are two kinds of litterers. The ACTIVE litterer tosses stuff on the ground and out car windows. The PASSIVE litterer walks out of his house or apartment, sees litter, and keeps on walking. The ACTIVE anti-litterer is a person, like me and thousands of others, who see litter, bend and pick it up. The PASSIVE anti-litterer feels strongly about litter. He and she talk, talk, talk about litter and rarely or never bend and pick it up.

Q. What's the good word about litter for 2006?
A. If you want a cleaner Pittsburgh, people who care must pick up for people who don't care and can't be bothered.

Recent Litter-ature

A complete list of past Litterature is available in our archives.

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