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Citizens Against Litter

February 2012 Newsliter

In this newsletter: Our mission; We have a litter problem; Redd Up goal 250 communities/groups; Adopt a Redd Up Zone; Homewood's Race Street acts; Meet n' Greet Mixer March 22; Pittsburgh Parks volunteer days; Q & A's about recycling; Stamp out mailbox graffiti; A real "How To" challenge; Dittto: 5525 Ellsworth Ave.; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Tips from Keep Chicago Beautiful; Important phone numbers; Active and passive litterers; 2012 Caring Awards; Gloria Baron Award for Young Heroes; The last word

Our mission

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

We have a litter problem

Mr. Litterman asks, "If there are 20 pieces of litter in a two-block area and 9 of them are from one source would you say we have a litter problem with that source? The source is not a bar. The source is not a fast food restaurant or coffeehouse. The source is the Post-Gazette and the litter is in the form of yellow plastic bags of the Sunday Extra feature sections and advertising inserts tossed on porches, sidewalks, lawns and into bushes. This was the situation on Copeland Street in Shadyside Monday morning after the Steelers were Tebowed and Mr. Litterman found himself sort of Tebowing to pick up the litter. By the way, in addition to the 9 Sunday Extras there were three cigarette boxes, one plastic bottle, one crushed beer can, three facial tissues, a couple supermarket receipts and assorted scraps of paper.

The message inside the Sunday Extra plastic sleeve reads: "If you do not wish to receive future editions (it will be delivered each weekend for one year) please visit or call 1-800-815-3726."

Shadyside is not the only neighborhood being dumped on.

Redd Up goal 250 communities/groups

The challenging triple goal for the Spring Earth Day Redd Up (April 20-22) is 250 communities/groups, 250 tons of collected litter and 20,000 volunteers. "We're only halfway there," says Mr. Litterman. "Response from city neighborhoods is strong. We're hoping for more response from communities in Allegheny, Beaver and Washington counties. Instead of picking up, response has slowed." Contact or call 412-688-9120.

Pittsburgh: Allegheny CleanWays, Allegheny West, Allentown, Banksville, Banksville Road, Bedford Dwellings, Beechview, Beltzhoover, Bloomfield, Brookline, Brighton Heights, Brightwood, California-Kirkbride, Carrick, Central Northside, Chartiers, Clean Green Hill, Crafton Heights, Crawford-Roberts, Downtown Partnership, Duquesne Heights, East Allegheny, East Carnegie, East Hills, East Liberty, Elliott, Fairywood, Fineview, Friendship, Frick Environmental Center, Friends of the Riverfront, Garfield, Glen Hazel, Greenfield, Hays, Hazelwood, Highland Park, Homewood, Knoxville, Larimer, Lawrenceville, Lincoln Place, Lincoln-Lemington, Lower Hill, Manchester, Mexican War Streets, Morningside, Mount Oliver, Mount Washington, Middle Hill, New Homestead, Paddling Without Pollution, PA Resources Council, Oakland, Observatory Hill, Overbrook, Perry Hilltop, Pittsburgh Cares, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Post Office, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pittsburgh Job Corps, Polish Hill, Redd Up Zone groups: Allegheny County Adult Probation, Heinz History Center, PA Resources Council, Spring Hill Civic League, West End Children's Center, Regent Square, Ridgemont, Schenley Heights, Shadyside, Sheraden, South Oakland, South Point Breeze, South Side, South Side Graffiti Watch, South Side Slopes, Spring Garden-Deutchtown, Spring Hill, Stanton Heights, Strip District, Squirrel Hill, Summer Hill, Swisshelm Park, The Academy School, Totally Against Graffiti, Uptown,Windgap, West End and Westwood.

Allegheny County: Brentwood, Cranberry, Crafton, Dormont, Etna, Findley, Glassport, Heidelberg, Leetsdale, McKees Rocks, Moon, Monroeville, Mount Lebanon, Mount Oliver, Natrona, North Fayette, North Strabane, North Versailles, Oakdale, Penn Hills, Pine, Robinson, Ross, Rosslyn Farms, Shaler, Sharpsburg, South Park, Stowe, West View, Whitehall, White Oak, Wilkins, Wilkinsburg and Wilmerding.

Beaver County: Ambridge, Beaver, Harmony; Washington County-Coal Center.

Adopt a Redd Up zone

Don't sit on the sidelines. Businesses, corporations and groups are invited to adopt their own Pittsburgh street or zone and agree to pick up litter at least four times a year for two years. Visit for information and application form.

Homewood's Race Street acts

Read Diana Jones' blog (Jan. 24) about how the Race Street Committee meets challenges against blight and crime. A classic case of "one street-at-a-time":

Meet n' Greet Mixer March 22

Pittsburgh finest and cleanest -- those would be Clean Pittsburgh Stewards -- will be honored Thursday, March 22 at the fifth annual Meet n' Greet Mixer (6 to 8 p.m.) at the Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink Lodge. The event highlight is the presentation of "Bob Awards" to individuals, groups and neighborhoods. "Bobbies" honor the Redd Up creator, the late Mayor Bob O'Connor. His widow, Judy, and son, new Councilman Corey O'Connor, will present awards as they have done since 2009.

Pittsburgh Parks volunteer days

Volunteers can sign up to help with various projects this spring in Pittsburgh parks. Dates are March 11 (Highland Park), March 25 (Riverview Park), April 14 (Highland Park), April 21 (Frick Environmental Center) and April 29 (Schenley Park) Contact Angela at or 412-682-7275, Ext. 231.

Q &A's about recycling

Question: "I recently visited Philadelphia, and saw that everyone is given designated containers for their trash... one for recyclables and one for non-recyclables. It seems to me that's a lot better system than the hit or miss arrangement that we have in Pittsburgh. Designated containers are easier to enforce, and they would encourage more recycling.

"Also in a recent issue of the City Paper, they talked about recycling organic materials (basically food wastes). They're doing it in both San Francisco and Seattle, quite successfully. The goal is zero trash for the landfill. I think that gives folks a feeling of empowerment and being in sync with the environment around them."

Answer: "The biggest barrier to both issues would be cost. To purchase 1 or 2 containers for each residence would (cost) over $4 million. One size containers will not work everywhere in the (our) City. The large roll-out carts they have in other locations will only work in a limited portion of the City. The smaller bins that could work with our on street parking would most likely not be big enough. It is something that we keep looking at, but still need to resolve these issues before we move forward.

"Cost is also an issue with the organics. We only have one vendor that is permitted in Western PA to take food waste. As you would expect, this increases the cost of the service. As more compost processors get into the food waste business the price will start to come down and it will be something we can consider."

Stamp out mailbox graffiti

Pittsburgh Postmaster Joseph Meimann urges citizens to be proactive and call the Postal Service directly at 412-359-7845 to report mailbox tagging or boxes in need of repair. Help the postal service by giving them specific information of locations and crossing streets.

A real "How to" challenge

A frustrated neighbor writes:

Any thoughts or suggestions to get the following three properties (in Shadyside) to clean up their front yards cluttered with trash cans?

  • 5525 Howe St.
  • 5527 Howe St.
  • 5529 Howe St.

The above three properties keep their trash cans (without any covers) in the front yard by their steps to either the porch or front door. As the tenants leave the property, they toss their trash in or around the cans. By the time trash day comes along, the yards are full of trash. The cans have fallen over. Lots of loose trash scattered about. The result is a haven for rats and trash blowing along the street.

I have contacted 311 over ten times in the last two years. I am guessing that the complaint is being ignored. We have asked the tenants to clean up the trash, but they say it is not theirs (around 3 to 4 apartments per property)."

Mr. Litterman forwarded the complaint to Environmental Services, Bureau of Building Inspection, 311 and our councilman. Within days the complaint received plenty of attention this time. There were visits, warnings, pending citations and promises of scrutiny by city officials. Environmental Services has resolved the problem. Garbage cans have been removed from the front of the three houses.

Ditto: 5525 Ellsworth Ave.

Environmental Services also resolved a six-month problem at 5525 Ellsworth Ave. The unsightly garbage can at the front door of the apartment building has been removed. Pedestrians and motorists alike no longer have to look at the mess. Citizens can get things resolved when they document problems and bring them to the attention of city departments.

"I Litter" awards

Advertising and promotional materials turn into litter in Shadyside and elsewhere. Businesses and sometimes non-profits are often responsible when they put their business on Shadyside streets. There has been less of this kind of littering recently. January's "I Litter" awardee: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Sunday Extra.


Garbagevilles are houses, buildings, streets and places that are a mess. Some because of litter; some because of unswept leaves; some because of trash and junk on their property. Some because garbage cans sit in the front of their houses. Many because of the absence of lids on garbage cans and open waste containers. Some of these Shadyside Garbagevilles are always a mess. This is an incomplete list of course.

Tips from Keep Chicago Beautiful

Keep sewers free of debris. A man left his car parked on the street over a sewer grate clogged with leaves and wrappers from a local fast food place. During a torrential storm, the water could not drain for hours. Water was still puddled inside the man's car when he came out the next morning to go to work. He let his community group know of his mishap at the next meeting, and the citizen crime patrol group decided to check and clear sewer grates as the teams made their rounds.

Educate to prevent clogs. Chicago cleans sewer catch basins and gutter boxes on a regular basis. If you are doing a neighborhood clean up, clear these sewer grates of obstructions yourself. Educate your neighbors so that no one dumps leaves, grass clippings, motor oil, or anything else poisonous or bulky down the sewer.

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.

Active and passive litterers

Councilwoman Natalie Rudiak on Facebook:

I will never forget what Boris Weinstein said: "There are two kinds of litterers: active litterers leave their trash on the ground, and passive litterers don't pick it up when they see it." I pick up trash around my house and block every single day because I don't want my house and neighborhood to look like crap! And honestly, I do see less litter in front of my house than other properties because people are less likely to litter on a place that looks clean and more likely to drop their trash in a place that already looks like a garbage dump.

2012 Caring Awards

The Caring Institute is now accepting nominations for its annual Caring Awards. Nominees should exemplify caring and serve as worthy role models for others. Award criteria include length of service, scope and impact of work, challenges overcome, and imagination and innovation.

Maximum award: All winners are honored at a special ceremony, and young adult winners receive funds for college.

Eligibility: individuals from nine to 99 years old. Deadline: March 1, 2012.

See for more information.

Gloria Baron Award for Young Heroes

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes honors outstanding young leaders who have focused on helping their communities and fellow beings and/or on protecting the health and sustainability of the environment.

Maximum award: $2,500.

Eligibility: youth 8-18. Deadline: Apr. 30, 2012.

See for more information.

The last word

Remember. Rome wasn't redd up in a day either.

Recent Litter-ature

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

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