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Citizens Against Litter

May 2014 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; Spring Redd Up reports impressive; A little love for "No Man's Land" litter; Valvoline on Earth Day; Fall Redd Up will be October 18; Mr. Litterman chose litter over golf; RX for common litter; Sign up for a Redd Up Zone; Report mailbox graffiti; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Important phone numbers; Last night and day; The last word

Our mission

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

Spring Redd Up reports impressive

Most of the 300 known community/group Redd Ups in the area took place in March and April and responses on results are coming in. Many reports are very impressive. Luci-Jo DiMaggio writes that 525 Duquesne University student volunteers, as they have done year after year, worked with a number of Greater Hill District, Uptown and South Side Flats neighborhood groups on April 12 and collected more than 25 tons of litter and trash. What an effort! Also, Allegheny CleanWays reported on three of their many illegal dump cleanups in Spring Hill, Perry South and Greenfield. About 60 volunteers gathered 250 tires, tons of litter and trash and hundreds of pounds of metal.

Other impressive reports include: 450 volunteers participating in the 19th Jack Sedlak Monroeville cleanup and collecting over 5 tons of litter and 28 tires; McKees Rocks with 130 volunteers collected over 6 tons. Friends of the Riverfront reported a turnout of 150 volunteers and Friends of South Park (with a helping hand from Comcast) estimated 100 volunteers, while Brighton Heights and Oakmont checked in with 40 volunteers each.

North Fayette and Findley, working together, attracted 60 volunteers who collected over 2 tons and 1,000 tires in their annual spring event. Homewood counted 92 volunteers, Stanton Heights came in with 79 volunteers and Hazelwood had 30 for litter cleanup and beautification. North Versailles (50) and East McKeesport (25) reported almost 3 tons of litter collected. Ross told us they had 80 volunteers while the St. Clair Hospital Green Team turned out in Mt. Lebanon for their adopt-a-road effort on Bower Hill to Vanadium to Washington Pike, 3.5 miles of road.

With 40 reports in, we're projecting more than 18,000 volunteer participation and the collection of over 400 tons of litter. Both reprojections are higher than the original 15,000 volunteers and 300 ton collection.

A little love for "No Man's Land" litter

In the litter business, Mr. Litterman's description of "No Man's Land" is a hard to keep clean area because it is uninhabited, or unsafe to clean because of road traffic, or it's a business district where people don't live.

Mr. Litterman receives notes frequently from a well-meaning businessman/city resident who tells him where the litter is and challenges nicely, "What are you -- or Public Works -- going to do about it?" His recent targets are Washington Blvd., Butler St., Second Ave. and Bigelow Blvd. near the Bloomfield Bridge. Another litter-hater complained for years about the litter on the circle roads on the city side of the Highland Park Bridge. All these places have one thing in common. They are "No Man's Lands" -- hard to get to the litter and keep the areas clean.

What is needed, obviously, is a "No Man's Land" task force of volunteers. Unfortunately, such a group is difficult to put together and sustain. Mr. Litterman has tried. Cleaning "No Man's Lands" on a regular basis in the city is a job more suited for Public Works that have the equipment, personnel and ability to work on heavily-traveled roads and halt or slow down traffic safely.

Mr. Litterman made a positive discovery while perusing the list of this spring's 300 known community Redd Ups in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and beyond. There are an increasing number of specifically-formed citizens groups -- many with names prefixed with "Friend of" -- who are tackling the dreaded "No Man's Lands." These are people who may complain about the litter but go the next step and initiate solutions. Some examples.

Bottom line: The many "No Man's Lands" in our area need more "Friends" similar to the "Friends" who keep our parks and trails clean: Friends of the Riverfront, Friends of South Park, Friends of North Park and Friends of Hollow Oak.

Valvoline on Earth Day

Cleaning up for Earth Day is a long tradition at Ashland Oil's Valvoline plant. Every year, workers sport special t-shirts and head outdoors to spruce up the grounds of the East Rochester facility, bagging a year's worth of litter from the roadsides and railroad tracks.

This year, Ashland added a new wrinkle to their cleanup routine - helping Independence Conservancy! Five workers from the Valvoline plant spent Earth Day (April 22) with Conservancy volunteers, bagging flood debris and making repairs at the Raredon Run Streambank Restoration Project on the Tom & Dee McCoy Farm in Independence Township, Beaver County.

"This is the first time our employees have left the plant to do an Earth Day activity," said Jeremy Hurt, Regional Safety and Compliance Engineer for Valvoline. "We'll have to tell everybody this was just awful - terrible - otherwise, next year everybody will want to come here!"

All kidding aside, hats off to these hard workers for helping the Conservancy meet its obligation to protect this section of Raredon Run, badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and repaired through a $330,000 PA Growing Greener grant to the Conservancy in 2011.

Fall Redd Up will be October 18

Mark your calendars for the fall Redd Up with Pitt Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 18.

Thousands of Pitt student volunteers have been involved with city neighborhoods and area communities in litter cleanups and beautification projects since 2008. Contact with communities is already underway.

Mr. Litterman chose litter over golf

(This opinion piece was published in the Post-Gazette seven years ago. Choosing litter over golf wasn't a difficult decision for Mr. Litterman then and now. This is one bad golfer's opinion.)

In retirement, I chose litter over golf. And here's why.

It's a case of different strokes for different folks. I'm not ready yet to work around the house, go to doctors and play endless rounds of golf. I still want to do a day's work even without the pay. I want to make a difference in my neighborhood and in other neighborhoods. I want to be part of Pittsburgh's makeover from an over-the-hill (sort of tired) city to a city with new energy. I want to be a mover and shaker again and pick up the pieces so Pittsburgh will become one of the cleanest cities in America. I think retired people playing all that golf put themselves out to pasture.

I can't knock the positives about picking up litter and playing golf, like the walking, exercise, fresh air and camaraderie.

I can't knock the equipment both use. It's about the same. Golfers use one golf bag; litter pickers use a lot of bags. Golfers carry around a lot of clubs; litter pickers use just one. One manufacturer calls its tool the "Nifty Nabber."

Both wear gloves but they're in different leagues.

Litter picking is done on the cheap. Golf costs a ton for the cart, balls, greens' fees, special clothes, skill lessons and driving range visits.

I can't knock the satisfaction for golfers or litter pickers but I think litter pickers have it all over golfers in that department. Golfers feel real good when they drive their ball straight and long; when they reach the green in regulation; when they one putt; and when they approach par. As a litter picker I smile from ear to ear when a littered street becomes litter free; when littered streets are swept clean and street corners are lined with garbage bags; when volunteers high five because their neighborhood looks great after a weekend Redd Up.

Golfers dream a lot. I have no time for it. Most would love to play Pebble Beach. I'm happy making rounds on Beechwood Blvd. and keeping it clean. What do you think a golfer would give for an invitation to Oakmont Country Club? I was happy to be invited to Verona to speak about litter at the fire hall.

Golfers watch the Masters on TV and think about playing Amen Corner, the three-hole torture stretch of the 11th, 12th and 13th holes. I worry about the appearance of Forbes & Murray, Frankstown & Fifth and Aiken & Centre.

Playing the Blue Monster course at Miami's Doral Resort and avoiding water hazards on 14 of 18 holes does nothing for me. But sloughing through water hazards caused by dirt-clogged sewers in city neighborhoods annoys me.

Even though I hate counting golf strokes and losing my concentration, I hate litter more.

Our street-littering and dangerous potholes are not on a par with St. Andrew's 17th, nicknamed the "Road Hole", which is the most famous hole in the world. Our infamous "holes-in-many" must be patched to save drivers the cost of tires, front ends and rear ends.

When golfers hear that a 69-year old man got serious about golf when he retired they might break their clubs and give up the game like me. Ordinary amateur golfer Chuck Lenzie, playing the TPC Summerlin course in Las Vegas, had three holes-in-one on the 17th hole on three different occasions last year. That feat introduced a new golf term, "The Lenzie", to describe anyone duplicating it. According to Golf Digest, odds are 12,000 to one making a hole-in-one. Add a lot more zeroes for three of them.

I, too, dream a little. For Citizens Against Litter groups in all 90 city neighborhoods. For 2,000 volunteers cleaning up everyday litter by 2010. For Pittsburgh to become one of the cleanest cities in America.

I want to be the Tiger Woods of litter. Right now the best I can do is imitate golfer Gene "The Machine" Littler whose name sounds almost like what I do. I have a long way to go.

RX for common litter

G + litter = Glitter. Let's make it happen. Please Mayor Peduto: Start with a Zero Litter ENFORCEMENT model in one neighborhood initially against the four causes of most litter: everyday litter, illegal dumping, overflowing, uncovered and inadequate waste containers and littered storefront sidewalks in neighborhood business districts. Insist merchants Redd Up their property prior to opening for business daily and insist that litter laws are enforced and backed up with warnings and collectible fines.

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 the next two years. For information call 412-255-2280 or e-mail servepgh@pittsburghpa.gov.

Report mailbox graffiti

Pittsburgh Postmaster Dan Davis 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. April's top litterers are the Post-Gazette Sunday Extra and Pesaro's Pizza.

In Shadyside last week, as Redd Up Day (Apr. 26) volunteers are picking up litter, the Post-Gazette is delivering its free Sunday Extra that turns into litter because many homeowners leave them where they're dropped. Mr. Litterman counted 20 papers (now litter) on the porch of a vacant house at 614 Bellefonte St.

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.

Last night and day

Mr. Litterman has saved the best for last. On May Day, the Clean Pittsburgh Commission presented him with a Lifetime of Service award for his work with Citizens Against Litter at the annual Meet n' Greet Mixer for Clean Pittsburgh Stewards. The award follows a proclamation presented to him by Pittsburgh City Council (April 22 was "Boris Weinstein Day") for "raising public awareness about litter prevention, roadside and community waste issues and the need for citizens to participate in activities that preserve and enhance natural resources."

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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