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Citizens Against Litter

November 2012 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; Turning litter into glitter; Were you one of 10,000?; Cleanup contest in progress; Walnut St. parklet cleaner; Charity run event sponsors spotless; Thanks Tree Pittsburgh; Adopt a Redd Zone ; Report mailbox graffiti; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Important phone numbers; Next to last word; The last word

Our mission

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

Turning litter into glitter

Before October's big Fall Redd Up, Mr. Litterman received a short note from a Shadyside resident. "I will probably be working on the 20th. But we all keep up the cleaning constantly on Spahr St. I often wonder," she went on, "how people live in their own homes when they feel fine with leaving garbage and trash all over the streets. YECH!" We agree. Right on.

Several years ago Mr. Litterman was asked to write about litter and our efforts in Pittsburgh for a community newspaper -- in Scotland, of all places. The article, written in November 2009, is reprinted here. It's Mr. Litterman's sermon of the month so to speak.


By adding just one letter--"G", magically litter becomes glitter. A negative turns positive. Easy to say; hard to do.

Let's be real. Eliminating long-standing litter and then controlling the spread of fresh litter on neighborhood streets, alleys and grassy places take a commitment from residents day in and day out, block by block. Two words say what's necessary: frequency and consistency.

People close by and far away are impressed when I tell them that in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the States we have two big cleanups a year. (We call our cleanups "Redd Ups" which is a Scottish phrase, by the way.) We attract 10,000 to 18,000 volunteers in 100 to 150 neighborhoods in fall and spring and collect hundreds of tons of everyday litter and trash.

Neighborhood leaders (we call them Clean Pittsburgh Stewards), city officials and a cast of supporting organizations are very pleased with these efforts. But it's only part of the picture. These Redd Ups produce big numbers and big headlines. We're getting very good at organizing and executing the big litter event. In fact, Pittsburgh might be as good as or better than any city in America with how we do this.

Excuse us, though, for not taking a bow. The real challenge and the goal of Citizens Against Litter from day one has been to remove litter from streets, alleys, gutters and grassy places in every neighborhood every week, not just on two weekends.

This is the concept we started (in 2002) in one neighborhood (Shadyside) with the hope that the concept would catch on in other places. We divided our neighborhood of 13,000 residents into 17 zones. We began recruiting volunteers to "litter police" and take responsibility for their zone. Ideally, we wanted three volunteers for each zone and believed that 50 passionate people -- less than 1% of the population -- could keep the neighborhood litter-free. We hoped for a commitment of 1 1/2 to 2 hours, two or three times a week from each volunteer.

The truth of the matter is we've yet to reach our goal. We have most of the zones covered. Some with only one volunteer. We think many more pick up every week. We know they don't do it as often as we would like. We do know there is frequency and consistency. And we know our neighborhood is cleaner. We also know the model works.

The huge events get the headlines and the "gee whiz" word-of-mouth. The steady drumbeat maintenance cleanups go unnoticed but are the true workhorse. Of the two, I believe in the long term maintenance cleanups are more important. It makes a greater contribution to quality of life, to day in/day out appearance, to influencing real estate values, to preventing crime and to uplifting individual spirit and community pride.

I speak to many neighborhood groups. I bring to each neighborhood a customized "Ten Step Approach for Your Community". I know for certain neighborhoods are not busting down the door to take on this more comprehensive, pro-active program for a cleaner community.

My advice is: Don't be overly impressed with the quick-fix Redd Up magic. Follow the path of turning litter into glitter for your community over the longer term with day in and day out attention to detail. Every little litter bit helps.

Were you one of 10,000?

Our estimate is 150 to 200 communities and groups and more than 10,000 volunteers participated in October's Redd Up in and outside the city. We also estimate these volunteers contributed upwards of 30,000 hours to the cause.

Volunteers were out and about on three levels. Kids cleaned up on and around their campuses. 3,027 Pitt Make a Difference Day students and 200 staff (transported on 63 buses) spent their 5th annual community service day in 68 neighborhoods. Hundreds of other Pitt students were involved in 10 to 15 "walk to" projects.

Local residents came out and did their share too. Were you among them? If not, don't fret. There will be another big Redd Up on the Earth Day weekend next April.

Clean up contest in progress

Don't Trash My Turf, a project of the Pennsylvania Resources Council, wants to make sure your volunteers have the basic supplies needed for their next cleanup event. Through the "Cleanup Your Turf for Supplies Contest", groups can win gift cards, trash bags, gloves, litter grabbers and more for picking up the most bags of trash and recyclables, having the most volunteers or finding the most unusual item during a cleanup. Contest dates are from October 5 to November 30, 2012. The cleanup must take place in Allegheny County to be eligible.

For more information, visit Direct questions to 412-488-7490 ext. 246.

Walnut Street parklet cleaner

Hats off to the new Mexican restaurant, Steel Cactus, and William Penn Tavern owners and employees for keeping the Walnut Street parklet cleaner and litter free. Visitors and residents notice. Because these businesses clean daily, pedestrians fall in line. They don't litter as much, do use waste containers and deposit cigarette butts in butt eaters.

Charity run event sponsors spotless

UPMC, PNC, and TrueRunner, sponsors of the October 6 Shadyside Run, attracted 1,400 runners. Volunteers left Walnut St. and adjoining streets cleaner than when the event began. Signs promoting the event were removed almost immediately. Come back in 2013.

Thanks Tree Pittsburgh

Terry Ford Aiello writes in:

"On Saturday October 13, over 25 volunteers worked for two hours pulling weeds, cleaning, and mulching the tree beds along Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield. Public Works picked up 19 construction size filled compost bags. Good job everyone! Thanks so much. Our trees look great and are ready for winter."

Photos of the event can be found at

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.

Newest Redd Zone applications include: Alpha Phi Omega to adopt parts of Ophelia St., Hamlet St., Craft Pl., McDevitt Pl. and Galena St.; CMU Circle K for Craig St. between Center Ave. and Fifth Ave.; Naval ROTC Steel City unit for Henry St., Wintrop St., Filmore St. and Craig St. between Fifth Ave and Forbes; Sigma Phi Epsilon - Penn Gamma for Sennott St. and McKee Pl. (all in conjunction with Oakland Planning and Development Corp.).

While in Carrick the Carrick Raider football team would like to adopt parts of Browsville Rd. and Parkfield St. Three schools are in the mix too. Applying are Grandview Elementary, St. Rosalia Academy and ASQ Pittsburgh.

Report 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.

"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. October's awards go to Post-Gazette's Sunday Extra and Pesaro's Pizza.


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.

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.

Next to last word

There's enough litter for all of us to pick up.

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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