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Citizens Against Litter

September 2013 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; Beechview's Jefferson Award recipients; Brashear High School volunteer fair; Keep your butts off the ground; The odd couple?; My adopt-a-place; Zero Litter enforcement; Fall Redd Up signups slowing down; Become a Citizens Against Litter volunteer; Adopt a Redd Up Zone; Report mailbox graffiti; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Important phone numbers; Take the litter test; Little Italy Days; The last word

Our mission

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

Beechview's Jefferson Award recipients

Sue Pfeuffer and Phyllis DiDiano were recognized on Aug. 20, in the Post-Gazette as recipients of Jefferson Awards for their ongoing service on many community projects in Beechview. Mr. Litterman knows of their work first hand and told them about it:

"Great to see the recognition for both of you with Jefferson Awards for what you do in Beechview. I first met both of you at Schenley Park Veterans Pavilion about six or seven years ago following a Spring Clean Up event. In fact, you were the first two neighborhood leaders I would meet shortly after I started Citizens Against Litter.   "You made a meaningful impression on me, especially when you both became 'charter members' of the Clean Pittsburgh Steward Network that truly is the backbone of the city's volunteer effort for a cleaner Pittsburgh. Thank you for your support and what you have done over the years."

Brashear High School volunteer fair

What a neat idea. Citizens Against Litter has been invited (and has accepted) to be represented at a volunteer fair at Brashear High School on Thursday, September 12. My contact, Kaleigh, tells me that hundreds of kids at the school will be looking for volunteer opportunities. Students at Brashear are from Beechview, Mt. Washington, West End, Brookline and Banksville. "We've contacted Clean Pittsburgh stewards from these neighborhoods to be represented at the Citizens Against Litter table to recruit volunteers for the upcoming October 26 Redd Up.

Keep your butts off the ground

I met Bruce Benson on the phone a couple weeks ago. He picks up trash in Henderson County, North Carolina one hour everyday. He's a Canadian writer and journalist who divides his time between Hendersonville and Canada. He goes by the handle "Trashman." In 2009 Bruce spent 40 days in the desert picking up trash around the Egyptian pyramids and wrote a book about it. So it's fitting that Trashman and Mr. Litterman should meet. We were introduced by Gary Smith, also in the litter business, of Port St. Lucie, FL. Gary is a former Pittsburgh attorney from Oakwood. He started a volunteer group there called "People Serious about Litter." Gary needs a handle like us. At any rate, Bruce wrote about litter in the Hendersonville Times-News in May. The headline: "Can we keep our butts off the ground?" Mr. Litterman picked off part of that column below:

"If you were to pick one item that needs to be addressed it would be cigarette butts.

"Years ago, my friend James came to visit me, and on leaving, dropped his cigarette on my pristine driveway, stepped on it to put it out, smiled and waved and drove away. I looked at the squished butt and laughed. There is no way James would intentionally litter my driveway. He just doesn't think of cigarette butts as trash. But they are.

"More than that, they are toxic to us and our environment.

"I read an article in The Underwater Naturalist some time ago. The author, Kathleen M. Register, wrote about an experiment to see just how deadly butts are to the aquatic environment. The procedure was to submerge butts in water that contained the transparent crustacean daphnia, often called a water flea. These are tiny animals that hold a crucial position in the aquatic food chain. It was found that in 48 hours one discarded cigarette butt could kill all the daphnia in two gallons of water.

"A few years ago, students picked up more than 21,000 butts from Main Street in Hendersonville. That would be enough to wipe out these little daphnia, crucial to the aquatic food chain, from more than 40,000 gallons of water.

"Kudos to those students, and others who found more than 5,000 butts in Jackson Park.

"But what about the smokers who discard them? I believe that, like my friend James, they are simply unaware of what they are doing to the environment. We need a plan to make them aware. Any ideas?"

Bruce Benson can be reached at His article can be read in full at:

Now for the Pittsburgh side. Twenty per cent (60,000) of Pittsburgh's 300,000 residents are smokers. So we have a big problem. Granted they're not all "kicking butts down the street" but most of what they smoke doesn't go up in flames, either. In fact, to gross the numbers even more, those 60,000 Pittsburgh smokers, lighting up 10 ciggies a day, for example, could create 600,000 butts-turned-into litter EVERYDAY. Put another way: let's estimate that there are 50 butts on both sides of a city block. One hundred butts times 500 city blocks in a neighborhood like Shadyside translate to 50,000 butts on the ground. Put that in your pipe and think about it. Mr. Litterman asks too. Any ideas?

The odd couple?

Better yet. The litter nuts. Boris in Pittsburgh and Gary Smith in Port St. Lucie, FL. They got together last month for an old-fashioned "Lit-In" in North Point Breeze. The Post-Gazette captured the moment in an article titled "2 men show that anti-litter campaign is no waste of time". Read the story on the Post-Gazette website ( and then read the following comments from PG readers:

From Diane Delmer, Mt. Washington: "We met in Grandview Park many years ago and you had such an impact on me that every morning when I go walking I carry a bag. Other neighbors do the same. There is now less litter in my corner of the world. Thank you Boris."

From Janet Gunter, Perry Hilltop: "I couldn't pass up the chance to come and pick up litter with Boris."

From Gino Peluso, Pittsburgh: "Welcome home Gary and thank you for all of your efforts. The 'Adopt-A-Highway' program could use you."

From Corinne Bowers, Pittsburgh: "I pick up litter while walking my dog. If we could tie it into dog walking we could really make a difference."

From Robin Roberts, Mobile, AL: "Great effort. Our effort in Mobile is called Clean-and-Lean. We say; 'Take a daily litter walk and you will be leaner and the world will be cleaner.'"

From Kathy Paterniti, Executive Secretary to Associate Vice Chancellor at Pitt: "Kudos to those fine gentlemen who really seem to understand a basic tenant of a 'green' environment. Forgive me but this is a pet peeve of mine. Perhaps along with all the time and money spent on a green sustainable world we might begin to educate people that it should not be the responsibility of others to pick up their discarded trash. Has our society degenerated to the point that being a responsible citizen no longer matters and others will clean up your mess. This is our community people. Keep it clean."

My adopt-a-place

Two months ago Mr. Litterman adopted a favorite place for the purpose of removing litter. At the time his suggestion was: "Let's all do it." It makes sense doesn't it? Mr. Litterman's adopt-a-place is Overland Drive fronting Schenley Oval, a place where I walk the inner track four to six times (one mile plus). I do this three to five days a week. I walk for about an hour and pick up litter for another 1/2 hour. The track gets a lot of use by a lot of people and a lot of them drive and dump. Mr. Litterman takes away two/three supermarket-size bags per visit or about 50-60 bags of litter per month. I get plenty of stares and a few thank yous but the litter keeps coming. That's OK -- my home away from home deserves the attention. Can I interest you in adopting your favorite place?

Zero Litter enforcement

Please don't think it or say it. B-O-R-I-N-G. But you'll probably get tired reading about this before B-O-R-I-S does. Here goes.

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

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 our next mayor to start a whole new initiative -- not just tweak a hand-me-down version from Mayors Ravenstahl and O'Connor.

Our next mayor 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: The next mayor must make Zero Litter enforcement a top priority.

Share your comments. E-mail or

Fall Redd Up signups slowing down

October 25, 26, 27 -- dates for the regional Redd Up Weekend and Pitt Make a Difference -- is now just around the corner. Mr. Litterman began drumming up support for these important events months ago. Our goal is 250 participating neighborhoods, groups and communities for all kinds of projects dealing with picking up everyday litter, planting trees or cleaning up community gardens. Over 100 are signed up. I'm sure there are more. Response is a bit disappointing so far. We need "a late inning rally." Here is the list of those we know are participating:

In Pittsburgh: Adult Probation Day Reporting Center, Allegheny CleanWays, Allegheny West, Arlington, Allentown, Banksville, Bedford Dwellings, Beechview, Beltzhoover, Beautify Banksville Road, Bloomfield, Bon Air, Brightwood, Brighton Heights, Brookline, Bull Elephants, California-Kirkbride, Carrick, Chartiers, Downtown Partnership, East Allegheny, East Carnegie, East Hills, East Liberty, Elliott, Fairywood, Fineview, Friendship, Garfield, Glen Hazel, Hays, Hazelwood, Homewood, Jail Trail, Larimer, Lawrenceville, Lincoln Place, Lower Hill, Knoxville, Manchester, Mexican War Streets, Middle Hill, Mt. Washington, Mt. Oliver, New Homestead, Oakland, Overbrook, Paddle Without Pollution, Perry Hilltop, Pittsburgh Cares, Pittsburgh Parks, Polish Hill, RSVP, Schenley Heights, Shadyside, Sheraden, South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Spring Garden, Spring Hill, Stanton Heights, Strip District, Summer Hill, Swisshelm Park, Troy Hill, Uptown Partners, West End and Windgap.

Allegheny County: Aspinwall, Brentwood, Collier, Dormont, East McKeesport, Etna, Harmar, Hollow Oak Land Trust, McKees Rocks, Friends of North Park, Leetsdale, Moon, Mt.Oliver, North Versailles, Penn Hills, Pine, Port Vue, Rosslyn Farms, Shady Side Academy, Sharpsburg, South Park, Friends of South Park, Stowe, Verona, West Homestead, Wilkinsburg and Wilmerding.

Beaver County: Aliquippa, Beaver. Beaver Falls, Hookstown, Industry, Koppel, and Patterson. In Washington County?North Strabane, West Pike Run.

Sign up your group at or contact Boris Weinstein at or call 412-688-9120. We can connect individuals to neighborhood groups in many cases.

Become a Citizens Against Litter volunteer

Be a joiner. When you give us your name, email address and neighborhood/community you want to volunteer with, we will connect you with a contact. Email or or call 412-688-9120.

Adopt a Redd Up Zone

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 an application form.

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. There's less of this going on. August's litterers are: Post-Gazette Sunday Extra and Guardian Security.


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.

Take the litter test

Which one are you?


There are two kinds of litterers.

A) Active litterers throw stuff out windows and drop stuff on streets, gutters, and grassy places.

B) Passive litterers walk out their front door and refuse to bend to pick up litter that is on and around their property.


There are two kinds of anti-litterers.

A) Active anti-litterers pick up litter regularly.

B) Passive anti-litterers talk, talk, talk about how disgusting litter is, but don't pick up a thing.

How did you do? Are you active or passive? Are you participating in cleaning up your neighborhood or passively supporting litter in your neighborhood?

Little Italy Days

More than 20 volunteers answered the call for a Redd Up Saturday, August 19 by Bloomfield Development to spic & span Liberty Avenue (and side streets) for the popular upcoming Little Italy Days that attracts people far and wide. Mr. Litterman was one of the volunteers, coming over from neighboring Shadyside where I focused on a Pearl St. clean up. (Earlier in the day, Mr. Litterman was picking up litter on his adopt-a-place on Overland St. at Schenley Oval).

But there's a funny connected to the day. Driving home Mr. Litterman spotted two women carrying four large bags that they loaded into their cars. "I gotta pull over and thank them for picking up litter with us," thought Mr. Litterman. "Hi," Mr. Litterman said, extending his now-gloveless hand. "Looks like you gals made a big haul." They replied, "That's not litter in those bags, it's clothes from our store on the Avenue." But they do appreciate the efforts of their neighbors.

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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