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Citizens Against Litter

December 2009 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; Summit on blighted and abandoned properties; Tale of two businesses; Throw the book at litterers; Three illegal dumps eliminated; Earth Day Redd Up April 23-25; Clean Pittsburgh Steward Mixer set; Catch this fever; Getting dirty for beauty; Partner with Pittsburgh Cares; "I Litter" awards; Joker's wild; Garbagevilles; Important phone numbers; Have Litter. Need help?; Nominate a Redd Up star; Think before you drink; Mr. Litterman sticks around

Our mission

Our mission is to inspire people throughout the city and region to collect litter and connect neighborhoods.

Summit on blighted and abandoned properties

This year's focus of Sustainable Pittsburgh's Regional Equitable Development Summit is "Going Regional on Addressing Blighted and Abandoned Properties." According to the group, "the presence of blighted and abandoned properties is among Southwestern Pennsylvania's most pressing threats undermining sustainable communities and regional equitable development." Needless to say, we agree.

The summit is on Tuesday, December 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $10 for Sustainable Pittsburgh members and $15 for non-members. All are invited to attend.

Registration and more details are available on the Sustainable Pittsburgh website.

10 Steps to a Cleaner Neighborhood

Are you looking to start a neighborhood litter-busting program but don't know where to start? May we humbly suggest the Citizens Against Litter approach? What started as an opinion piece by one man in 2005 has inspired thousands of others to do their part to keep their neighborhoods clean.

Mr. Litterman has compiled another one of his famous top ten lists to help you get started. Called "10 Steps to a Cleaner Neighborhood", it is a succinct primer to the Citizens Against Litter approach, and contains many useful tips for those dealing not only with litter but also abandoned cars, vacant and dilapidated dwellings, illegal dumpsites, and graffiti.

Tale of two businesses

The good one is at Avenue B Bistro on Centre Avenue & South Graham, Shadyside. I watched the owner bend and pick up, with bare hands, napkins, scraps of paper and cigarette butts in front of her restaurant and Consignment on Centre next door. Not just once but several times. She deposited the litter in a city waste container.

The other merchant on Walnut Street did half a job. He started out great, sweeping the sidewalk. He swept the stuff into the street and that was that. Would you agree he did a half a job?

Throw the book at litterers

"Why are the citizens expected to clean up after these lazy jerks that chose to throw stuff out their windows. Why not fine the crap out of them. Or make them spend a sunny Saturday and Sunday along the highways with cars and trucks flying by at 65 miles an hour. [I'm for] putting a bounty on littering. They will never stop if someone keeps cleaning up after them. Our highways look terrible. Worse than anywhere. Especially Rt. 60 from Tonidale to McDonald. Someone is at fault for this mess. Thanks for listening."


Our reply:

"We share your frustration. Unfortunately, there seems to be a limit to what the long arm of the law can and will do. We're probably an overly optimistic group, but we hope that through local efforts in each community, the people who care most about the places where they live and work will set an example of cleanliness for others to follow. It's been shown that litter-free places tend to stay litter-free, as the social stigma of littering in an otherwise pristine place is high. It's getting our streets and sidewalks to that litter-free state that is the challenge."

Three illegal dumps eliminated

"On Sunday, Oct. 8, our crew of volunteers (Stash the Trash) set out to eliminate three illegal dumpsites.

"Landview Road, Squirrel Hill -- This site was completely cleaned up. Approximately 1 1/2 truckloads of debris and litter were removed from the hillside in two hours. Neighbors told us this dump has not been active. Most of debris we collected had accumulated years ago (before the city installed guard rails and no dumping signs a few years ago). We dropped off flyers to residents that live adjacent to the site. Flyers contained info on dumping, what to do and who to contact should dumping resume.

"Ober Street, Swisshelm Park -- This site was also completely cleaned up. Like the Squirrel Hill dump, the city also has installed fencing and guard rails to deter future dumping. Two truckloads of debris were removed. Flyers were also distributed to neighbors.

"Oak Grove Avenue, Swissvale -- This cleanup was extra difficult because of the slope. Neighbors were so excited about what we were doing, they joined in. It's very inspiring to see people in their 80's loading trucks with debris. Neighbors told us they have been cleaning what they could over the summer. It was evident because there wasn't much for us to clean except some very large items that residents were unable to move. Some residents dispose of grass clippings and leaves on the hillside. We removed one truckload of debris. Like the other sites, the city installed no dumping signs and guard rails following community complaints.

"For all three sites volunteer stewards who live nearby have been requested by our organization to ensure that these areas never become dumping grounds again. They will monitor these areas regularly to make sure they remain as clean as the way we left them. They have made a commitment to us and their community to keep these areas litter free and dump free. Our volunteers will be there should problems too large crop up. The follow-through clean up site maintenance advice and 'our offer to help' are part of our overall strategy."

Derek Green

Earth Day Redd Up April 23-25

Circle April 23, 24, and 25. These are the weekend dates of the spring Earth Day Redd Up which also coincides with the Great PA Cleanup. Earth Day is Thursday, April 22. Earth Day also is the beginning of World Environment Day, launched by the United Nations in 1972. Pittsburgh is the 2010 North American host city for the six-week event from April 22 to June 5.

"With 20,000 volunteers in 200 communities expected to participate in neighborhood clean ups in Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties this will easily be the largest launch ever of the World Environment Day international event to bring attention to environmental issues," said Boris Weinstein, founder of Citizens Against Litter and chair of the Clean Pittsburgh Commission.

For information and to register your community contact or call 412-688-9120.

Clean Pittsburgh Stewards Mixer set

Clean Pittsburgh Commission has set the date for its third Meet & Greet Mixer. It will be held on Thursday, March 25 at the Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink lodge from 6 to 8 p.m. The hope is most of Pittsburgh's finest and cleanest leaders from all 90 city neighborhoods will attend. A highlight of the event, like last year, will be the presentation of the Bob Awards, named for the late Mayor Bob O'Connor who created the internationally-acclaimed Redd Up concept.

Catch this fever

"October 17 was probably the coldest Clean Up Day ever but thankfully the rain held off until after we were finished," said John Engle of Mexican War Streets.

"Six projects were completed with the help of eight team leaders and 30 University of Pittsburgh students. Alida Baker led a group that spruced up the East Commons. Becky Coger guided a team that spread soil and planted at the garden located on Brighton Road above the Zone 1 Police Station. Leslie Ward headed a group of students that mulched along the Aviary wall. Colleen D'Addario and Randy Burns commandeered a team that cleaned up Alpine Gardens and the Alpine Avenue corridor. Kathy Deis worked alongside a group that cleaned up Mechanic's Retreat Park and Tom Cihil and yours truly teamed up with a group that spread three yards of top soil and four yards of mulch at Drovers Repose Garden. We also pruned shrubs and planted over 100 perennials and 100 spring blooming bulbs along Brighton Road and Taylor Avenue. Over 30 bags of litter and yard debris were collected across the neighborhood.

"Special thanks to Randy Casciola for lending his truck and wheel barrow. Thanks also to my Aunt Judy, Doug McCloskey, Dan Vogel, Greg Mucha, Becky Coger and The Urban Gardener for plant and bulb donations.

"A couple of pleasant surprises occurred, the first being the arrival of a crew from Perry Hilltop who offered us welcomed cups of hot chocolate. The biggest surprise was Franco Harris who stopped by Drovers to personally thank the students for their hard work. It was a fun photo opportunity for them and he treated them to Wilson's ribs and chicken. All in all, a foreboding and bone chilling day turned out to be a memorable heartwarming event and a great success story for the University of Pittsburgh and our neighborhood. Next spring, thanks to a little hard work, we should all be able to enjoy a beautiful addition to our cherished neighborhood gardens."

John Engle
Central Northside/ Mexican War Streets

Getting dirty for beauty

GREEN n'at, the South Side volunteer group, has a web site. Check it out. GREEN n'at is a South Side Flats beautification effort getting residents, business owners and stakeholders involved. It asked the question, "Wanna help? Contact"

Their slogan is "Getting dirty for beauty." GREEN n'at was featured in the South Pittsburgh Reporter several times last month.

Partner with Pittsburgh Cares

Need some serious firepower for your next clean up? Consider Pittsburgh Cares. This nonprofit organization maintains a large roster of volunteers who can be mobilized to assist with your next event.

For ideas about how to begin, first read "Clean Pittsburgh Stewards: Ways to Engage Pittsburgh Cares". Then visit the Pittsburgh Cares website to get started.

"I Litter" awards

Advertising flyers become litter in Shadyside and elsewhere. These businesses/groups are responsible and put their business on Shadyside streets last month. The list is getting shorter.

Joker's Wild

He/she dropped or emptied a deck of cards onto Elmer Street between Copeland and Bellefonte. How 'bout 52 bends to pick up 52 cards. The joke was on me.


Garbagevilles are houses, buildings, streets, alleys and places that look awful because of litter, garbage, unswept leaves, cigarette butts and other stuff. Here are some.

Important phone numbers

Need to contact the city about something that's been bothering you, like potholes and graffiti? Call the 311 Response line (alternate number is 412-255-2621). Your request will be logged and sent to the proper department. Want to contact someone directly? The following list may help.

Have litter. Need help?

I met a guy who sounds like someone after my own heart. He's a senior like me. He wants to help other seniors who can't pick up litter around their property or pull up sidewalk or gutter weeds. If you live in Squirrel Hill or Shadyside, give Joe a call. 412-521-4056. No Charge.

Nominate a Redd Up star

Next March the Clean Pittsburgh Commission will again honor outstanding city neighborhood volunteers for their community service in Redd Ups and for their year-'round anti-litter activities. Honorees will receive Bob Awards, named for our late Mayor Bob O'Connor. Tell us about deserving volunteers for consideration to receive 2010 "Bobbies." E-mail

Think before you drink


It used to seem the world was packed
With broken glass and plastic sacks
But now the streets are always mottled
With paper cups and water bottles.

It seems that now folks think of water
As a drink that always oughta
Be bought at stores because of course it
Comes from bottles, not a faucet.

And in this world of waste and plenty
Once that water bottle's empty
It's tossed away, but not disappeared -
It'll be around for a thousand years.

It's strange because we're really lucky
Our public water's clean, not mucky.
We pay water bills, then get it free,
So why buy bottles shipped from Fiji!

Please friends, help the world stay clean
Those bottles are made with gasoline!
Before you buy bottled water - Think!
Then go to the tap to get your drink!

Hazel Cope, 8-14-07

Mr. Litterman sticks around

Boris Weinstein has been elected for a second two-year term as Chair of the Clean Pittsburgh Commission. Also elected to continue in their positions are Dave Mazza as Vice Chair and Patty Chavez as Secretary.

Recent Litter-ature

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

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