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Citizens Against Litter

August 2015 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; A mini litter drama; Shock in Mellon Park; Pitcairn Pride needs a pick up; A case for businesses to do their share; People lie about littering; Fall Redd Up & PMADD October 24 this year; Paddle Without Pollution; Report mailbox graffiti; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Important phone numbers; 5 reasons seniors should volunteer; The last word

Our mission

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

A mini litter drama

Usually when well-meaning people are involved, problems can be identified and resolved with positive results. This mini drama about a litter problem concerned people in Bellevue and Brighton Heights several weeks ago.

July 20:
Mr Litterman received the following e-mail from a Bellevue motorist on July 20. "Just wondering if anything can be done about the litter on Brighton Heights Blvd. between Verner Ave. and Route 65...that's right where you wait for the long traffic light to turn onto Route 65. I take that route every day to work and am always saddened to see all that trash on the side of the road there." The e-mail continued, "Would love to look out my car window and just see the pretty little flowers/trees."

July 22:
Two days later Mr. Litterman shared four names with the Bellevue motorist and copied each about the situation. Two of the names are residents of Brighton Heights who are anti-litter and community garden and beautification volunteers; one Bellevue government official; and the Pittsburgh Public Works Director. Mr. Litterman was hoping one or more would address this litter problem. Mr. Litterman also took this opportunity to suggest to the motorist, "Eventually, they may ask you to be part of the citizen volunteers who pick up everyday litter in your neighborhood."

July 22:
The Bellevue motorist responded. "Thanks for the names. Even though I live in Bellevue this litter is in Brighton Heights (a Pittsburgh neighborhood). Hopefully someone can help because it's terrible to see our community dirty. I'm here in Pennsylvania for a year. I don't know who is in charge of that particular street."

July 23:
The following e-mail was sent to the Bellevue motorist by a member of the Brighton Heights Citizens Federation, titled: Please join us for a little clean up 9-12 today (July 23) on Brighton Heights Blvd.

"Weekends and after work hours are available for volunteerism as well," read the e-mail. "Please check with (my fellow resident). We both do our share of volunteer work weekly and have for years. We spend many hours on our own as well as working to help leverage group efforts and individuals, such as you, who care about the environment.

"If there were a camera to document the litter problem on Brighton Heights Blvd., you would see it would take a weekly crew, or daily individual's commitment for an hour walk with a trash bag, to keep it clean.

"I hope you don't divide our planet into territories to which you call someone else's problem. This is a boulevard, and the main sign from the highway says, 'Bellevue,' not 'Brighton Heights.' I'm guessing Bellevue traffic makes its share of litter. We are all in this together.

"Boris Weinstein, if you don't know him, is a role model for Pittsburgh. He is an old(er) man with a long history of leadership and advocacy for zero litter. You may get some ideas by reading up on his strategies though his many years of passionate litter control volunteer work -- down to just himself with a litter pick-up stick. We invite you to become part of the solution."

Shock in Mellon Park

Mr. Litterman visited Shadyside's Mellon Park sports & recreation center last Saturday because the Schenley Park Oval track was off limits for a 5K race. Shock is the best word to describe his reaction to the amount of litter he saw and the total disinterest to it by dozens of parents of young children using the facility.

Litter was in plain view everywhere -- on the ball field, around and under the bleachers, in the grass, in the bushes, on the parking area, around the restroom facilities building, in the water spray area and on the paved walks. In the few hours Mr. Letterman was in the park picking up the litter, not a single parent lifted a finger to pick up a piece of litter. It's pretty obvious these park users are frequent visitors and it's just as obvious that these people expect city employees and others to pick up after them. The littered park doesn't faze them in the least. What a negative message they send to their children. Sad.

In contrast, what Mr. Litterman sees regularly at Schenley Park is a different story. For the most part, weekly soccer moms and dads there pick up their own mess. Daily walkers and runners and tennis players do the same. And what little litter is left behind is removed by several retirees from Hazelwood and Greenfield who police the grounds with grabbers and buckets several times a week. picking up litter and tossed aside water and soft drink bottles.

Can we agree that users of public spaces, like parks and sidewalks and streets, are in charge of themselves and responsible for their actions and should not look to others to clean up for them.

Pitcairn Pride needs a pick up

Alan Ankney's efforts to see a less littered Pitcairn have been publicized in newspaper articles. But he's still having trouble recruiting more than eight volunteers to his Pride in Picking Up Pitcairn campaign even after sending fliers throughout the borough. If you can help by volunteering some of your time time drop me a line and I'll pass it forward to Alan. Contact or call 412-688-9120.

A case for businesses to do their share

Over the years we've seen more people accepting their responsibilities to pick up everyday litter in their neighborhoods because they realize Public Works budgets don't cover this city service. As a result our neighborhoods are cleaner. Unfortunately this "do what's right" attitude does not extend to store front operators in business districts. Take Squirrel Hill and Shadyside, for example. There are 400 store fronts or more in these two business districts but you won't see more than a handful of operators or their employees sweeping their sidewalks and cleaning their street gutters on a regular basis or at all. On the other hand, community-proud residents pick up litter regularly because they want cleaner neighborhoods. They do a great job.

The City expects businesses to clean their store fronts. In fact there's an ordinance (City Code 419.09) that covers this. Unfortunately, there is no enforcement of the law to see that it's done. In 2006, when Mayor Bob O'Conner (the Redd Up Mayor) came into office, Public Works sent a letter to businesses. It read: "In an effort to keep the City of Pittsburgh clean, we are asking for your participation. Businesses, landlords and tenants must share in their responsibility to keep our city clean and healthy. The City of Pittsburgh cannot do this alone, that is why we are asking your help. It is your responsibility to keep your store fronts and properties clean of litter, trash, graffiti, leaves and walkways clean of snow & ice (City Code 419.09). The effort is minimal and the results can be tremendous to our city. Please do what's right so we don't have to cite."

Dirty sidewalks and street gutters in business districts will stay dirty forever until the City takes steps to enforce the code. Mr. Litterman has proposed a pilot program of Zero Litter Enforcement in a one neighborhood test which would include a gentle crackdown of the law to improve the situation. So far the idea has fallen on deaf ears.

People lie about littering

From recent issue of "This Week in "Litterland':

More than half the time what people say after littering does not match what they do, according to decades of research spun into a delightful new book by Australian behavioral psychologists Karen Spehr and Rob Curnow.

In Litter-ology: Understanding Littering and the Secrets to Clean Public Places, the authors rely on data from independent observations of individual disposal habits by one trained team member followed by impartial,'blind' interviews by a second. "We found that of those people who'd just littered, 60% did not admit to littering that day," they write. "One of our most robust findings has been that what people tell you about their disposal behavior is not a very reliable indicator of their observable actions." Litter-ology is an invaluable litter prevention guide shaped by the pair's 20 years of scientific studying littering behaviors in Australia.

Fall Redd Up & PMADD October 24

The date for the Fall Redd Up and Pitt Make a Difference Day is Saturday, October 24. Pittsburgh neighborhoods, communities outside the city and groups have been signing up several months. Fall Redd Up signed-in communities and groups are:

Pittsburgh: Alcoa volunteers, Allegheny CleanWays, Allegheny County Day Reporting Center, Allentown, Arlington, Aviary, Bates Street Project, Beechview, Beltzhoover, Bloomfield, Brighton Heights, Brookline, Carnegie Mellon's Alpha Phi Sorority, Carrick, Chartiers, Downtown, Duquesne Heights, Duquesne University's Spiritan Ministry, East Allegheny, East Carnegie, Elliott, Fairywood, Friends of the Riverfront, Friendship, Garfield, Glen Hazel, Greenfield, Hays, Hazelwood, Homewood, Lawrenceville, Larimer, Lincoln Place, Lower Hill, Manchester, Mexican War Streets, Middle Hill, Morningside, Mount Washington, New Homestead, Oakland, Perry Hilltop, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Polish Hill, Point State Park, Shadyside, Schenley Heights, Shadyside, Sheraden, South Oakland, South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Spring Hill, Spring Garden-East Deutschtown, St. Clair, Stanton Heights, The Academy System, Thirty First St. Lofts, Troy Hill, Uptown and Windgap.

Allegheny County: Braddock, Collier, Crafton, Dormont, Duquesne, East Pittsburgh, East McKeesport, Etna, Friends of North Park, Friends of South Park, Forest Hills, Glassport, Hollow Oak Land Trust, Leetsdale, Lincoln, East McKeesport, McKeesport, Mount Lebanon, McKees Rocks, North Versailles, Penn Hills, Pitcairn, Port Vue, Scott, Sharpsburg, South Park, Stowe, Verona, West Homestead West Mifflin, West View, Wilkinsburg and Wilkins.

Butler County: Butler Twp.

Last year, result surveys indicated that approximately 10,000 volunteers participated in 150 to 200 communities. Volunteers collected approximately 200 tons of litter. Also last year Pitt students, engaged in their seventh Pitt Make a Difference Day, set a record for participation with 3,724 volunteers at 115 sites. Pitt officials estimated that their volunteers delivered 13,240 service hours. PMADD is one of the largest -- possibly the largest -- events in National MADD that attracts over 3 million volunteers.

Paddle Without Pollution

Two upcoming cleanups are: International Coastal Cleanup in Erie on September 19 and National Public Lands Day at Allegheny Islands State Park and Oakmont on September 26. Paddle with Bald Eagles did a cleanup at Pymatuning on July 25.

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 nonprofits are often responsible when they put their business on Shadyside streets. There's less of this going on. July's top litterer continues to be the Post-Gazette Sunday Extra free advertising circular.


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.

5 reasons seniors should volunteer

As a volunteer, retirement can afford seniors the chance to work on a project or issue that is important to them -- simply for the passion rather than a paycheck. Seniors have a unique set of skills and knowledge to offer as volunteers: a lifetime of experiences can help others in many ways, from mentoring and tutoring younger generations, to providing career guidance, to offering companionship or care.

Volunteerism isn't just beneficial for those being helped -- research shows that volunteering confers mental and physical health benefits for those doing the helping. It also fosters positive social and family relationships and contributes to a positive image of seniors as a healthy and vital part of our society. Here are just a handful of reasons:

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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