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Citizens Against Litter

January 2014 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; Top Ten litter list no surprise; Greenfield "Best Block"; No "love letters" about Litter a decade ago; Spring Redd Up sign ups growing; Is Zero Litter Enforcement in the City's Future?; Sign up to clean up a Redd Up Zone; Report mailbox graffiti; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Important phone numbers; The last word

Our mission

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

Top Ten litter list no surprise

This Top Ten litter list of 2013 is hardly a surprise to people aware of their surroundings. It was the same list last year and the years before and you can count on it to be the same list in 2014. When we eliminate these litter items we'll be well on our way to Zero Everyday Litter -- a goal worth pursuing.

The Top Ten are: cigarette butts and packs, bank ATM receipts, plastic bags (all sizes), coffee cups and lids, plastic water and soft drink bottles, facial tissues, advertising circulars, the Post-Gazette's free "Sunday Extra", candy and gum wrappers, pizza boxes and other fast food containers/wrappers/napkins/straws.

Greenfield "Best Block"

The Love Your Block program completed its fifth successful season. This fall, 22 groups revitalized blocks throughout the City. One project, by Greenfield Community Association, was awarded the "Best Block Revitalization Project" for its work in Magee Park.

With the help of community partners, over 100 volunteers came together to rejuvenate their community's outdoor recreation area by clearing overgrowth, collecting over 1,400 pounds of litter and painting multiple surfaces of the public space. In recognition of their great undertaking and subsequent success, they have been awarded an additional $2,000 Home Depot gift card for future block enhancements.

"Because of the Love Your Block program, we were able to rally both community members and regional residents, some of whom were from the neighborhood, to refresh the park through vegetation removal and painting activities. This had an immediate impact in residents' perception of the quality of the park," said Mitch Margaria of Greenfield Community Association. "We were also able to establish relationships among volunteers, and introduce them to the GCA and rekindle some former friendships."

No "love letters" about litter a decade ago

Things have improved. Less litter and more people care. Even though New Year's is a time to look ahead, last week Mr. Litterman peeked into the past and came across two of his favorite letters. One is a Letter to the Editor published in the Post-Gazette in October 2004. The other is a letter from the Editor of the Post-Gazette to me in April 2005. These letters helped shape Citizens Against Litter into a result-oriented volunteer group that's identifies with Redd Ups and picking up litter in Pittsburgh and beyond.

The first letter, in October 2004, was written by Robin Troy, a North Side resident, under the headline "Garbageville, PA":

"What's wrong with so many people in Pittsburgh? My children and I were in five different cities this summer and we were impressed at how clean they were. When we arrived back home, my 8-year old daughter said Pittsburgh should be called "Garbageville."

"Despite my family's best efforts every day, there is always more litter. How can people not care about the place they live? I would hate to see their homes. Fellow residents. Let's show some pride in our city and neighborhoods and pick up litter."

And the second letter, written in April 2005 from Post-Gazette Executive Editor David Shribman, reads:

"I agree with you. I've been here for two years and I am stunned at the litter here. Most of it is simply carelessness but carelessness of the worst kind: failure to care. Laziness too. My wife is furious about it. I have been asking for two years for someone on staff to do a piece on litter."

Spring Redd Ups sign ups growing

The dates for the Spring Redd up are are Friday, April 25, Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27. Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22.

However, many communities do their cleanups at other times. For example, next spring, Duquesne University student volunteers will work with South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Hill District groups (Middle Hill, Lower Hill, Crawford Roberts, Bedford Dwellings and Schenley Heights) and Uptown on Saturday, April 12.

Citizen Against Litter's participation goals remain ambitious but we've reached them in the past. Mr. Litterman is looking for 250 city neighborhoods, outside communities and groups to sign up and recruit as many as 15,000 to 20,000 volunteers. Based on past results, reaching those goals could result in the removal of more than 250 tons of litter, trash and several thousand tires.

Following are committed participants that we know of. We're approaching the 100 mark with four months to go. Is your community among the committed?

Pittsburgh: Alcoa Volunteers, Allegheny CleanWays, Allegheny West, Allentown, Alpha Phi Sorority (CMU), Beechview, Bedford Dwellings, Bon Air, Brighton Heights, Brookline, California-Kirkbride, Carrick, Chartiers, Citizens Against Litter, Crafton Heights, Crawford- Roberts, Downtown, Duquesne University, East Allegheny, East Carnegie, East Hills, East Liberty, Elliott, Fairywood, Friendship, Friends of the Riverfront, Garfield, Glen Hazel, Hazelwood, Highland Park, Larimer, Lawrenceville (3), Lower Hill, Manchester, Mexican War Streets, Middle Hill, Mt. Oliver, Mt. Washington, Oakland (4), Observatory Hill, Paddling Without Pollution, Perry South, Pittsburgh Cares, ServePgh, PA Resources Council, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Polish Hill, Ridgemont, Schenley Heights, Shadyside, Sheraden, South Point Breeze, South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Spring Garden, Spring Hill, Squirrel Hill (2), Stanton Heights, Summer Hill, The Academy School, Troy Hill, Uptown, Westwood and Windgap.

Allegheny County: Bellevue, Brentwood, Carnegie, Collier, Duquesne, East McKeesport, Friends of North Park, Forest Hills, Heidelberg, Hollow Oak Land Trust, McKees Rocks, North Versailles, PennDOT, Penn Hills, Sharpsburg, South Park, Stowe, Verona, West View, White Oak and Wilmerding.

Is Zero Litter Enforcement in the City's future?

We may know soon. The suggestion for a pilot program of Zero Litter Enforcement in one neighborhood initially is making its way through Mayor-elect Bill Peduto's transition team process of reviewing ideas to be turned into programs.

Citizens Against Litter believes it's time has come to go beyond twice-a-year Redd Ups. It's time to take on the root causes of litter in Pittsburgh. What follows are the highlights of an op ed piece published in the Post-Gazette on May 23:

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

  • Everyday litter;
  • Illegal dumpsites;
  • Street front businesses that don't sweep sidewalks and gutters regularly;
  • Homeowners/ renters and building owners who break the law with overflowing, uncovered and insufficient garbage and waste containers.

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.

The 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: We urge the next mayor to make Zero Litter enforcement a top priority.

Share your comments. E-mail info@citizensagainstlitter.org or boris.weinstein@verizon.net. Share your comments with Mayor-elect Bill Peduto as well. E-mail bill.peduto@pittsburghpa.gov.

Sign up for 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. Visit http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/servepgh/reddupzone/ for information and an application.

Report mailbox graffiti

Pittsburgh Postmaster Joseph Meimann invites citizens to be proactive and call the Postal Service 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. December's litterer is the Post-Gazette Sunday Extra.

Garbagevilles

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 Garbagevilles in Shadyside 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.

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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