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Citizens Against Litter

November 2013 Newsliter

In this newsletter: Our mission; The first words; A prayer for Gina; Need more people who care; Not enough to just point out littered places; What can I do?; An adoption + 60; Thanks to thousands; What others say; South Side adopts a winning cleaner streets strategy; South Side bars, restaurants pile on; Is zero litter enforcement in the City's future?; Get off the bench; Fed up with mailbox graffiti?; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Important phone numbers; Thanks for the memories; Longer-living volunteering; The last word

Our mission

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

The first words

Get rid of the "old" litter. Get rid of the fresh litter. Try to control the next day's litter.

A prayer for Gina

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gina Turner of Elliott. She's fighting for her life. Gina's been a Clean Pittsburgh Steward since 2006 when the network was forming. She's been a tireless worker for the West End and Elliott, way beyond litter matters. Gina was the "Bob Awards Volunteer of the Year" in 2011.

Need more people who care

Our friend Jim O'Brien writes in:

"Kathie and I called the Upper St. Clair Public Works Department to report that there was considerable litter alongside McMillan Rd. from top to bottom and it was cleared up in a day. People have to be vigilant about reporting such situations. But it starts with cleaning up after yourself and sometimes others. I saw the parking lots around Heinz Field after recent Pitt game and it was abominable. The police ought to do something to make sure tailgaters clean up after themselves."

Not enough to just point out littered places

As Jim O'Brien says, "It starts with cleaning up after yourself and sometimes others." Thanks very much to those people who call and write, pointing out litter problems around the city. Better than that, though: "How 'bout you, too, picking up some of the stuff?" There's enough litter for all of us.

What can I do?

People ask Mr.Litterman all the time. "What can I do? My reply is: Start with the basics. Stuff your pockets with plastic bags and a pair of gloves and be an army of one. Pick up litter around your own home, on your own street and in your own neighborhood. Do just this much consistently and you're doing a lot. Or get more involved. Here are three suggestions:

In the city or out, there may be a Clean Pittsburgh Steward or some untitled leader in your community who organizes local Redd Ups. Suggestion One: Contact that person and offer to be a dependable volunteer or right-hand person to help with Redd Ups in the spring and fall.

Suggestion Two: Move slightly out of your comfort zone. Identify a couple neighbor communities or neighborhoods that don't have litter groups. Organize an anti litter group for them, starting with a few volunteers. Start small. This new group will gather support and expand.

Suggestion Three: Really move out of your comfort zone into the world of "No-Man Lands" -- places that get littered up because they don't get much foot traffic. They're places you see but don't touch. Examples: the connecting street from Forbes St. to Second Ave. under the Birmingham Bridge. Or Washington Blvd. from Fifth Ave Extension to Allegheny River Blvd, where houses are few, businesses are many and no one cares if there's litter or not. Or the area along Second Ave. at the Armstrong Tunnel. There are hundreds of No-Man Lands. These areas are loaded with litter and need attention. Organize a No-Man's Land Cleanup Crew that focuses on them and get down to work.

Call me on all three suggestions if you're interested in getting started.

An adoption + 60

Here's the latest chapter in Mr. Litterman's adopt-a-place saga. When we heard from Mr. Litterman last month, he had litter under control at his favorite adopted place, Overland Drive, that fronts the Schenley Oval. A combination of frequent cleanups of freshly discarded litter on the road over the last three months and those newly-installed and effective "No Littering" signs with a warning of fines and imprisonment are responsible.

But how about the accumulated "old" litter down the hillside from the road (and up the hillside to the tennis courts)?

Alpha Phi Sorority at Carnegie Mellon University to the rescue. Marie Barcic contacted Mr. Litterman several weeks ago. Marie and her 60 sorority sisters were anxious to participate in the City's October 26 Redd Up. The challenge was where to send all 60 as a group. A light bulb went off. The hillside at the Oval. It made sense. This service site was in Carnegie Mellon's backyard. Close enough for the student volunteers to walk to and enough litter for everyone to have a hand in "the big pick up." The students worked the area for three hours. Their litter haul was 40 bags of litter, tires and trash like hula hoops. It was carted off by George McCain's Public Works Third Division crew. Your overall opinion? "It was fun," said Marie.

This is another example of one person making a difference, starting small and reaching out to others to tackle a bigger challenge successfully.

Just a suggestion: Please consider adopting your favorite place and keeping it litter free. You'll feel good about your choice.

Thanks to thousands

It takes thousands to blitz an estimated 150 communities and eliminate everyday litter -- even for a while -- from streets, sidewalks, trails and grassy places. Citizens Against Litter thanks the 10,000+ volunteers -- schools kids, college students and residents -- who responded during last weekend's Redd Up Weekend.

Thanks to the 3,225 Pitt students who spent four hours in over 70 communities performing over 90 projects during their sixth annual Pitt Make a Difference Day. They certainly made a difference. Thanks to Terry Milani and Cathleen Connor of Pitt Student Outreach and their staff who spent many months organizing the event.

Thanks to neighborhood and community Clean Pittsburgh Stewards in and out of the city who recruited and organized volunteers and who planned the "When Where and How" massive Redd Up effort.

Thanks to the suppliers of free gloves and bags for volunteers. Much of the supplies came from the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny CleanWays through PennDOT.

Thanks to the Pittsburgh Public Works and all the public works departments in the area who hauled away all the litter collected by volunteers.

What others say

John Scaglione, Penn Hills:

"We truly appreciate the time and effort that goes into a day like this"

Dave Buchewicz, South Park:

"The Friends of South Park thank Pitt, 'Friends', volunteers and Comcast for a great day cleaning up the park. It was fun."

Lynn Glorieux, East Allegheny:

"We have 20 adopt-a-block volunteers who pick up litter in their own block on a regular basis. At least 8 people agreed to also participate in the cleanup and said they would pick up 1-2 bags each."

Michele Rone Cooper, Middle Hill:

"I truly appreciate your support of our cleanup effort"

John Radcliffe, Public Works 4th Division:

"The South Side Slopes, South Side Flats, Mt. Oliver, Brookline and Overbrook did a great job in the cleanup. Just from what I've seen there is close to 30 yards of debris"

Luke Mattocks, Verona:

"Everything looks great. If you're down by the river take a look at the painted park benches. We picked up litter, landscaped along the railroad tracks and painted park benches"

South Side develops winning cleaner streets strategy

(Mr. Litterman finally got around to reading some back issues of the South Pittsburgh Reporter from August. An article by Reporter Editor Tom Smith on a new consistent anti-litter strategy for the South Side is reprinted here in part for other neighborhoods/communities to think about adopting for themselves.)

When the South Side Local Development Company ceased business operations at the end of June in 2012, one of its most visible programs also disappeared, the SSLDC Clean Team.

Duties of the two members of the team had shifted several months earlier when the SSLDC decided to focus cleaning efforts onto residential streets instead of East Carson St. for the final days.

'They had those two guys cleaning seven days a week,' Kim Collins, president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce (SSCC), said. 'Business owners were depending on it.'

Since then, she said the trash on the street had become overwhelming and called cigarette butts a major problem.

To help fight litter in the community, Ms. Collins said the Chamber is working on developing a consistent strategy.

The multi-faceted approach to fighting litter includes placing 10 cigarette butt receptacles between 14th and 16th streets. Business owners are also being encouraged to install receptacles on their buildings for smokers to use.

The Chamber has also created its own Clean Team of sorts, sweeping up litter on the sidewalks and beside the curbs from 10th to 23rd streets. The new Clean Team is made up of volunteers from area colleges and universities along with South Side residents.

Teams of one or two people, easily identifiable by their red t-shirts, work about five hours a day beginning at 11 a.m. and are out sweeping the sidewalks as many as six days a week. Most of the students come from Duquesne University, but other schools are represented in the volunteer pool.

She emphasized the street cleaning program is meant to supplement the individual efforts of businesses up and down East Carson St.

Ms. Collins noted there are owners that "go up and beyond" in keeping the sidewalk in front of their businesses and surrounding areas clean. Those businesses are now being highlighted on the Chamber's website,, for their contributions to keeping things clean.

'The litter is definitely getting under control,' she said.

One of the areas that could use more work is with the nighttime businesses that sell take-out food. The patrons of those businesses often leave the remnants of their purchases (wrappers, left-over food, etc.) on the street.

She would like to see more of the late-night businesses send someone out to clean-up after their customers so the businesses opening in the morning aren't left with the mess. 'Respect our neighbors and respect our neighborhood,' she said. 'Step up and be responsible in the community.'

To that end, the Chamber recently sent out "litter letters" to several businesses making sure they knew they were a major part of the solution to the litter problem in South Side.

Ms. Collins pointed out the Chamber is coordinating with other South Side organizations for a more consistent cleaning program.

Upcoming major clean-up efforts include:

Ms. Collins said Chamber representatives recently met with officials from the city's Department of Public Works and the city forester about some of the empty tree pits in South Side. A few of the newer tree pits will be planted with new trees. The older pits are too small to accommodate trees and will be filled with concrete to prevent them from accumulating debris.

The Chamber is also working with the city to have the crosswalks and yellow lines repainted and to get more bike racks in the neighborhood. 'We want everything to be super clean and tidy, she said.

Utilizing funds from a small grant from the South Side Local Development Company, the Chamber will soon begin power-washing sidewalks along East Carson St. between 10th to 23rd. Ms. Collins said the Chamber will be able to hire a company to do the work, but will have to arrange with multiple businesses along the street to use their water connections to facilitate the cleaning.

South Side bars, restaurants pile on

Also in a recent South Pittsburgh Reporter issue was this piece of news:

"Adam DeSimmone of the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association revealed a draft membership Code of Conduct for widespread adoption. The Code includes providing a clean, safe and social environment by maintaining the property, including sweeping at the opening and closing (of the day's business)."

Is zero litter enforcement in the City's future?

Good question. The election is this week. With it will come a new mayor. Bill Peduto's short and long term "to do" list will challenge the new administration. Mr. Litterman is just hoping that a new, exciting next step in beautification of our city is a part of it. Mr. Litterman wants Mayor Peduto to go where the city has never gone. It's time. Neighborhoods got their feet wet with eight years of Redd Ups. Mr. Litterman wants Redd Ups to continue but we're ready for a greater step.

Like most cities, Pittsburgh has litter problems. It comes in four ways:

What should be done about our litter problems?

The time has come for Pittsburgh to push beyond neighborhood Redd Ups. This is a challenge for Mayor Peduto to start a whole new initiative -- not just tweak a hand-me-down version from Mayors Ravenstahl and O'Connor.

Mayor Peduto needs to make Zero Litter, with an emphasis on "enforcement," his priority. Pittsburgh needs an all-out fresh effort to dig out the roots of our litter problems. Please, though, not city-wide at first. Too much. Too fast. It won't work.

Start in one or a few neighborhoods with a focused. affordable one-year program that brings together a committed mayor who directs his staff, Public Works, Bureau of Building Inspection, Public Safety, Urban Renewal Authority, Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, City Council, magistrates and concerned others to strictly enforce ordinances, enact new ordinances as needed, issue warnings, write citations and collect fines.

A well-managed test of Zero Litter would work, providing there is a no-nonsense strategy of goals, studies and applies best methods, holds agencies accountable, encourages neighborhood participation and provides for ongoing outside oversight. The key is commitment: We urge Mayor Peduto to make Zero Litter enforcement a top priority.

Share your comments. E-mail or Share your comments with Mayor Peduto as well. E-mail

Get off the bench

Looking for a worthwhile neighborhood project? 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. There are more than 76 adopted zones in this city program, engaging 1,500 volunteers with over 2,000 service hours that have collected 20,000 pounds of litter. Visit for information and and application.

Fed up with 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. There's less of this going on. October's litterers are the Post-Gazette 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.

Thanks for the memories

Cliff Gold writes in from Des Moines:

"Love the Pirates memories. I was at home alone that afternoon [of the 1960 World Series celebration], having just gotten home from school in enough time to see the end of the game. I ran outside our house in Eastmont trying to find someone to celebrate with. I remember that homer like it was yesterday. Just off the left center wall with Yogi Berra staring at it."

And from Roz Teets:

"Love that you were a wild reveler but with good cause - go Bucs! Those pix were amazing. Keep up the good work!"

Live longer volunteering

From Parade Magazine. "Philanthropy is all about helping others, but who says you can't get something out of it, too? A meta-analysis of five long-term studies published in August reported that people who volunteer were, on average, 22 per cent less likely to die over a period of four to seven years than similar people."

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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