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Citizens Against Litter

July 2015 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; Three litter words; The example of Edgewood; County Cleanup Day coming next year; Fall Redd Up & PMADD Oct. 24 this year; Tireless project May results; Hazelwood gets attention; 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.

Three litter words

Twelve years ago Citizens Against Litter started as a one neighborhood experiment in Shadyside: Can a bunch of volunteers who can't stand litter take it on themselves to make the place they live cleaner by picking it up and hoping the idea catches on?

The experiment won. Shadyside is cleaner but, more important, most of the city's 90 neighborhoods and 50 to 60 Allegheny County communities (probably more) followed suit and started anti-litter programs. There are now two large Redd Ups a year (spring and fall) where thousands of volunteers in hundreds of communities pick up 1/2 million to one million pounds of litter each year. In this newsletter there is an item that the Allegheny County Council approved a proposal to have a County Cleanup Day in June starting in 2016. Still, there will always be litter. All we can do is remove the old stuff and control the spread of the new stuff.

So "yes" we would say the one neighborhood experiment for volunteers to pick up litter in their communities and not wait for governments to do it for them worked. As Mr. Litterman has said, "Volunteers picking up litter is the biggest bargain in the city's budget. Their sweat hasn't cost taxpayers or foundations a single penny in all those years (and it has cost Citizens Against Litter only $6. Honest.)." Picking up litter is not about offices, staffs or logo t-shirts and hats. It's about bending and picking up stuff in their neighborhoods. Plain and simple.

Picking up litter will never stop but the time has come when citizens and local government officials must face reality that they must deal with zero litter enforcement of ALL the causes of litter. In addition to everyday litter, there is illegal dumping, merchants who don't keep their sidewalks and street gutters clean and insufficient waste containers and overflowing and uncovered containers at private dwellings, multi-unit buildings and businesses that are responsible for flyaway litter. Cities, boroughs and townships need comprehensive litter programs and strategies to keep us cleaner.

The example of Edgewood

As a community organizer, Mr. Litterman lives for the action Edgewood is taking. Citizens Against Litter received an e-mail from the borough manager reaching out and asking our help with the borough's plan to create an active, on-going anti-litter program. When community officials or individuals wrap their arms around problems and announce they want to take action and want suggestions to meet their challenges positive things will follow. The Edgewood e-mail said:

"My name is Julie Bastianini, and I am the borough manager in Edgewood Borough. I was given your information by CONNECT (Congress of Neighboring Communities) as someone who might be of assistance. Edgewood Borough is hoping to take steps to combat littering in our neighborhood, and I was hoping you might be able to offer some guidance. We are hoping to establish an Anti-Litter Committee, but are open to other ideas if there's a particular practice that you've had success with in the past. Please feel free to email or call me at the below listed number, as I'd love the opportunity to discuss this topic with you further. Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing back from you!"

Mr. Litterman shared his observations with the Edgewood manager: "Litter is more than everyday litter -- the stuff litterers drop on the street or toss from cars. A comprehensive litter program should include all four causes of litter -- everyday litter to be sure, plus illegal dumping, merchants who do not clean their sidewalks and street gutters regularly and overflowing, uncovered and insufficient waste containers at private dwellings, multi-unit apartments and businesses."

Mr. Litterman says, "Let's hear from more communities." Citizens Against Litter is here to help. Contact boris.weinstein@verizon.net or call 412-688-9120.

County Cleanup Day coming next year

There has not been any public announcement or publicity yet but Allegheny County Council passed a resolution in May (http://bit.ly/1UjvE7T) establishing a "County-wide Cleanup Day" starting in 2016 for the Sunday following Father's Day in June. The event would "focus on landscaping, maintenance, refuse removal and other beautification efforts," according to the resolution.

Mention of the word "litter" is conspicuous by its absence from the resolution. We know it's something we want to avoid but litter by any other name is still litter.

Many boroughs and townships in Allegheny County already participate in the spring Earth Day Redd Up and the fall Redd Up (and Pitt Makes a Difference Day). The County's timing for the event makes sense. Mr. Litterman suggests the County consider, for continuity sake, naming the event SUMMER REDD UP (or something like that). We're sure county council will be counting on Pittsburgh's 90 neighborhoods to take part.

Citizens Against Litter is anxious to be invited to be part of the planning process and execution phase for the event. Here's a heads up to the County: It takes six months of planning to get a strong buy-in from individual communities, neighborhoods, groups and volunteers. Just declaring a cleanup day and expecting the public to respond without grassroots recruiting is not the way to seed a successful annual event.

Fall Redd Up & PMADD October 24 this year

The date for the Fall Redd Up and Pitt Make a Difference Day is Saturday, October 24 (It was previously announced as October 17). 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, Friendship, Garfield, Glen Hazel, Greenfield, Hays, Hazelwood, Homewood, 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, Edgewood, 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.

Tireless project May results

From the Allegheny Cleanways newsletter:

"We have had an excellent Tireless Project season so far! A huge thank you to all of the volunteers and partners who help us Keep Pittsburgh Beautiful. Here are the numbers: 80 volunteers; 250 work hours; 114 bags collected; 217 tires; 1,200 pounds of scrap metal. All of this equals 18,560 total pounds of garbage collected."

Hazelwood gets attention

Also from the Allegheny CleanWays newsletter:

"Our DumpBusters crew has been hard at work in Hazelwood since the beginning of this year. While some work has been in empty lots and alleys, most of the work has been within the extensive Greenway system. Our volunteer crews, led by staff member Joe Divack, have donated 223 hours and have removed 43,900 pounds (including 354 tires) from about 36 acres (almost 28 football fields) from Hazelwood's open spaces since January."

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. June's top litterer is the Post-Gazette Sunday Extra free advertising circular.

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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