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Citizens Against Litter

August 2007 Newslitter

In this Newslitter: Jake and Jim went up the hill; Another Potter story; Unclogging clogged sewers; More clogged sewers; October Redd Up participation growing; Help for neighborhood litter Redd Ups; Public Works on board for October Redd Up; Redd Up Coalition planning stepped up; A cleaner bus stop, a cleaner city; How clean is Howe?; Smokeless Shadyside Hospital creates butt litter; Alleys that glitter; Dumpster Alley is a mess; Greenfield bags 'em; Adoption in Greenfield; Tools of the trade; Picking up pays off; Top eleven litter drops; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Poetry time; Ask Mr. Litterman

Jake and Jim went up the hill

Employees, families and friends -- 15 total -- of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review took on their first project as Trib Against Litter volunteers on Saturday, July 21. And what a job they did.

Imitating Jack and Jill, Jake Krohn of Citizens Against Litter, Jim Robertson, the Tribune-Review District Sales Manager, and their followers went up a hill and took it on.

The Trib group devoted more than two solid, productive hours moving like mountain climbers and ridding the Aiken Avenue bridge hillside of more than 30 bags of litter, discarded shopping carts, tires, pipes, a bike, television set, toilet and a whole bunch of other junk.

Areas of concentration were at the end of Potter Street (along the Busway) near the Noble Street and Potter Street corner and on the top of the hillside on Aiken Avenue. Evidence of their cleanup job will be seen more clearly in the late fall when green places become bare places.

"This hillside has been a litter eyesore for a long time," said Boris Weinstein of Citizens Against Litter. "For one thing the hillside is a 'no-man's land' so no one takes responsibility for it. For another, it's a hillside and hard to get to and redd up. The Trib crew took on a real challenge and their efforts are appreciated." 

The Trib, publishers of the morning Tribune-Review and afternoon Trib PM, wants to be part of the litter solution in our community. We thank them for their community service and concerns about the appearance of our neighborhood. None of the volunteers live in Shadyside.

See photos from the day online at:

http://flickr.com/photos/citizensagainstlitter/sets/72157600939954884/

Another Potter story

The final Harry Potter book went on sale two weeks ago. On the same weekend, Trib Against Litter volunteers, cleaning the Aiken Avenue Bridge hillside, uncovered a part of Potter Street that has been buried -- probably for years -- under overgrown weeds, illegal trash dumping, litter, fallen trees and moving dirt. Potter Street extends another hundred yards or so and maybe more beyond what is now a dead end.

Unclogging clogged sewers

This Letter to the Editor appeared last month on the Post-Gazette website:

"It's not a world stopper or even as big as police promotions, RAD or budget oversight, but unclogging clogged sewers is important in my neighborhood and probably yours.

"We reported nine clogged sewers around Ellsworth Avenue to Councilman Bill Peduto's office last month. Within a few days, PWSA crews were unclogging them. So let it rain. For now, no more flooded street corners; no more mud; no more sewer-backed up litter. My experience has been that when you give specific, good information to your city councilperson's office and most government departments and agencies, good things happen and problems are resolved."

Boris Weinstein
Citizens Against Litter

More clogged sewers

We spotted two more clogged sewers a few days ago and reported them to Councilman Bill Peduto. They're located at Aiken and Westminster and Aiken and Fifth.

October Redd Up participation growing

Redd Ups of everyday litter by the dozens will take place in many of Mr. Litterman's neighborhoods. Here is a list of groups and communities in the city, in Allegheny County and Beaver County that have scheduled Redd Ups on the same weekend, October 12-14. About 50 communities/groups are firm. Another 6 to 8 have been contacted and will be heard from. No neighborhood has said no.

Neighborhoods firm for Redd Ups include:

Allentown, Banksville, Banksville Road Corridor, Beechview, Bloomfield Main Street Business Association, Bluff, Brookline, California-Kirkbride, Central North Side, Duquesne University Evergreen, Dormont, East Allegheny, East Liberty, Friendship, Highland Park, Homewood, Lawrenceville, Lincoln-Lemington, Manchester, Mount Oliver, Mount Washington, Morningside, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, North Point Breeze, Oakland, Overbrook (Fairhaven Greenery), Park Place, Pittsburgh Adopt-A-Block, Regent Square, Schenley Heights, Shadyside, South Point Breeze, South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Scott Township, Strip District, Squirrel Hill, Uptown, Verona,  Wilkinsburg and Westwood. Also participating in Beaver County will be Ambridge, Beaver, Bridgewater, Freedom, Monaca, New Brighton, Rochester and Vanport.

Don't be shut out. If your community or group wants to be involved in the Redd Up of everyday litter October 12-14, please contact boris.weinstein@verizon.net or info@citizensagainstlitter.org. Our phone number is 412-688-9120.

Help for neighborhood litter Redd Ups

PA CleanWays of Allegheny County is offering its support for neighborhoods participating in the October Redd Up event of everyday litter.

The mission of PA CleanWays is to "engage and empower people to eliminate litter and illegal dumping in Allegheny County", said Mary Wilson, Executive Director. "We are always interested in helping community groups with litter cleanups."

Groups seeking help with supplies for the October event are urged to plan ahead and contact PA CleanWays starting now and certainly by early September. Late requests for supplies may be directed elsewhere. Clean up reports on results are expected by PA CleanWays.

Groups should e-mail pacw_ac@hotmail.com or phone 412-381-1301 for requests.

Public Works on board for October Redd Up

Citizens Against Litter updated Rob Kaczorowski, Assistant Director of the Department of Public Works, last week. Public Works is on board and will help neighborhoods with their Redd Ups of everyday litter as much as possible.

IMPORTANT: THIS IS NOT AN EVENT TO CLEAN OUT YOUR BASEMENT. The more information Public Works has in advance the better. As plans develop, neighborhoods should contact boris.weinstein@verizon.net or info@citizensagainstlitter.org with information, such as streets you will be cleaning and number of volunteers.

Redd Up Coalition planning stepped up

The Homewood, Squirrel Hill, Point Breezes Redd Up Coalition began planning its October clean up as soon as its spring event was over. Planning has stepped up. The five neighborhoods are checking their supplies, deciding areas to pinpoint for redd up and getting ready to contact schools. Arrangements for the picnic in Mellon Park on October 14 are also underway.

A cleaner bus stop, a cleaner city

Lately, the Negley station stop on the East Busway in Shadyside has been looking a lot cleaner. This is due in large part to the regular efforts of Port Authority employees who stop at the station several times a week in the evening and sweep the sidewalks and gutters clean. It takes no more than ten minutes, but it makes a big difference.

When fighting litter, it's important to remember that it's the little things like this that count. If we all could take responsibility for our own small patch of land, much like the way the Port Authority has taken control of this particular bus stop, we all could live in a much cleaner city.

How clean is Howe?

Not too clean. In the past, six or seven houses in the 5500 block of Howe Street contributed to the shabby look for part of the street with garbage containers and spilled garbage on or near front porches and on grassy plots. Things haven't changed much. There are still garbage cans out front at 5525, 5527, 5529 and 5531. The house on the corner of Howe and Ivy had telephone books and old newspapers on its walk and steps. Two houses on the opposite side of the street are overrun with weeds and a huge overflowing waste container. The rest of the block is perfectly clean. There is very little litter and only a few cigarette butts.

Smokeless Shadyside Hospital creates butt litter

While walking by the Shadyside Hospital campus on a recent Saturday morning, Jake Krohn, a Citizens Against Litter volunteer, was struck by the number of cigarette butts that were discarded on, or near, the hospital. Specifically, Jake saw numerous butts at these locations:

Jake took pictures of the butts on the sidewalks and in the gutters. Take a look at them:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/citizensagainstlitter/tags/upmc/

Jake's letter to UPMC reads in part:

"While I am a strong supporter of the smoking ban that your organization recently enacted, I fear that it will have an unfavorable consequence in the form of increased litter on the sidewalks and streets. Cigarette butts, as you know, are ubiquitous and contain some pretty unnatural stuff that pollutes and keeps them around for a long time.

"Our group, Citizens Against Litter, has been working to help keep Shadyside clean for about 2 1/2 years, and I think we've made some good progress. But the appearance of these extra cigarette butts is a step in the wrong direction.

"What kind of policy, if any, does the hospital have for cleaning employee smoking areas and other littered sites? I hope that, as the holder of a large parcel of land, UPMC has a sense of responsibility to remain a good neighbor by keeping clean grounds.

"I think it's safe to say that UPMC has a large interest in maintaining a positive image, both of itself and of the city of Pittsburgh. Providing better butt disposal receptacles, increasing employee awareness about the problem, and sending out some people with brooms and dustpans on a regular basis would do a lot to help sustain that image. I welcome your comments."

UPMC's response recognized the problem and promised to help combat it by stepping up their sidewalk sweeping to twice a day. We appreciate the effort, but see this as only a band-aid over a deeper problem. They should take a page from their medical playbook and treat the cause, not the symptoms. In any case, we plan to keep a watchful eye on them.

Alleys that glitter

Next time you're around Walnut Street take a side trip to scenic Irene Way and Equator Way. They glitter. They didn't always. Homeowners completed renovations to some of the back areas, spread new gravel in parking areas and, most important, got their garbage can areas under control. Good job.

Dumpster Alley is a mess

But cover your eyes when you approach Dumpster Alley, the alley behind stores and restaurants on one side of Walnut. Dumpster (my name for Comet Way) is a mess, especially around and under those huge waste containers. Walnut Street merchants should take a field trip to Yardley Way on the other end of Shadyside behind the Highland Avenue shops and they'll see how dumpsters in an alley could look when you work at it. Spotless. All the time.

Greenfield bags 'em

Greenfield litter volunteers have it together. Pat and Theresa Hassett circulated the June tally:

"With 61% (31 of 49) of the volunteers reporting, we picked up 65.5 bags of trash and recyclables off Greenfield streets and steps -- 60.5 Giant Eagle equivalent white bags of trash and 5 blue bags of recyclables. That's an average of 2.18 bags per volunteer.

"The problem area continues to be Magee Field. Kate and Rick picked up 25 bags in June! We are going to put together a more comprehensive approach to dealing with the litter at Magee and discuss it with DPW and the Magee staff. Any suggestions would be welcome. In the meantime, the streets and steps of Greenfield are looking good.

"Top pickers of the month after Kate and Rick are Jane (6 bags); Cheryl,

Theresa, and Mimi/Bruce (5 bags each), and Nicole/Zach (4 bags)."

Adoption in Greenfield

"As many of you have probably noticed," wrote Pat and Theresa Hassett, "the GO (Greenfield Organization) has weeded and replanted the landscaped triangle at Greenfield Ave and Ronald Street. It is a major improvement to the intersection and the neighborhood. Equally noteworthy, Bill Barkley, a lifelong Greenfield resident, has volunteered to 'adopt' the triangle and more. He will also be watering, almost daily, and weeding.

"So if you happen to be passing by and see Bill out there give him a honk or a thanks. If you are walking by and see some litter or weeds feel free to pick or pull.

"Thanks again to the GO for a major task well done and Bill B. for keeping it alive."

Tools of the trade

As far as hobbies go, picking up litter can be done on the cheap. Gloves, some plastic bags, and a bit of gumption will go a long way. If bending over all the time isn't your style, Mr. Litterman also recommends the use of a Nifty Nabber.

What else could an avid litter-getter possibly need?

Betty Edwards, of Louisburg, North Carolina, has an idea. She contacted us several weeks ago:

"Quite often, I sit down and search the Internet looking for articles on litter and have just found your web site. I have found it to be very interesting, inspirational and informative. I admire you for what you are doing.

"My husband, Ray, and I are also long time litter-getters. We pick up litter while getting our walking exercise, keeping three miles of roadside clean. I love picking up litter but getting others excited about it is the hardest task I have ever tackled. I agree with you that picking up litter once every few weeks or months does not eliminate the problem.

"Ray and I use a reach extender and a device to hold the bag open when we pick up litter. Reach extenders are readily available but bag holders are hard to find. Several years ago, Ray came up with an idea. We have been using it for four years and to us it is a necessity. It makes picking up litter much easier especially on a breezy day. With a reach extender and bag on a bag holder, you can walk, grab the trash, put it into the bag and not even break your stride. That's fun!"

Intrigued, we asked the Edwards for more information. The next day, Betty followed up her email with instructions. You can read them online at:

http://www.citizensagainstlitter.org/news/2007/tools_of_the_trade.html

Shortly thereafter, we received our very own model in the mail. The Citizens Against Litter "research department" plans to test the bag holder and publish our findings.

Picking up pays off

"I was picking up some litter on my walk in the early morning in Shadyside," wrote Roland Gargani, a Citizens Against Litter volunteer. "And low and behold. What appeared to be a littered piece of paper was actually a wrinkled (yet legal and tender) $10 bill!

"Yes, you are right, Mr. Litterman. Picking up does pay off. More importantly, it helps the community. Thanks for all you do!"

Top eleven litter drops

People love lists. Here's one list we're not crazy about: Top Eleven Most Dropped Litter on Shadyside streets. It could be different where you live.

  1. Cigarette butts
  2. Facial tissues
  3. Paper napkins
  4. Cigarette packs and boxes
  5. Plastic water bottles
  6. Small baggies
  7. Lids (drinks of all kinds)
  8. Advertising fliers
  9. Newspaper sections/pages
  10. Cups (paper and plastic)
  11. Fast food fries cups and wrappers

"I Litter" awards

Some businesses and some non-profits are as irresponsible as some residents and passersby for the litter on Shadyside streets. Here are some whose litter in the form of fliers we can identify. They get "I Litter Awards". The list is shorter this time.

Garbagevilles

For those who need reminding, Garbagevilles are houses, buildings, streets, alleys and places that look awful because of litter, garbage, unswept leaves, and other stuff. As we walk the neighborhood picking up litter we also finger garbagevilles. You can't miss them. Here are some this month. Most have been around for what seems forever.

Poetry time

Hazel Cope of Mt. Lebanon wrote the following poem for the Blitz on Banksville gang that beautifies and maintains Banksville Road.

(To be sung to the tune of "Morning Has Broken" by a chorus wearing lime green plastic jackets.)

HYMN FOR THE CLEAN-UP CREW 

PennDot has spoken Given us order When morning has broken We will be there.

Collecting up old rags Garbage and bottles To shove in big trash bags And make the place clean.

Carol (Knox) will bring us Cupcakes and coffee So that we don't cuss About all the rain.

The long road through Banksville Will be clean and lovely And stay that way until About Monday night.

Ask Mr. Litterman

Q: How 'bout coming to Clairton and pick up litter for us?
A: Sorry. Too far, but we'll help you start a Citizens Against Litter volunteer group.

Q: (From a worker replacing 1898 gas lines on Howe Street) I'm from Crafton. How do you keep this neighborhood so clean? I just returned from Baltimore. That city is filthy. Shadyside is nice.
A: A lot of volunteers pick up litter in Shadyside and residents and merchants are more sensitive. They don't like litter and don't want litter.

Recent Litter-ature

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


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