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Citizens Against Litter

October 2016 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; Fall Redd Up with Pitt MADD October 22; Clean by example to cure common gripe; Connonquesnessing Creek cleanup; Market Square conditions disappointing to some; PRC takes over state recycling hotline; Report mailbox graffiti; "I litter" awards; Important phone numbers; Redd Up for Shadyside house tour; Next to last word; The last word

Our mission

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

Fall Redd Up with Pitt MADD October 22

This month's Redd Up with Pitt Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 22, will have more than 100 groups. The event could attract participation in excess of 10,000 people, including more than the 3,500 Pitt student volunteers who participated in 2015. The office of PittServes at the university manages the PMADD event which involves over 70 Pittsburgh neighborhoods and Allegheny County communities. Citizens Against Litter assisted Pitt in managing the event when it began in 2008. Pitt's event has become one of nation's largest MADD community service projects. For information contact pittserves@pitt.edu or call 412-624-1065. Misty McKeehen is Director.

Among signups for the October Redd Up and PMADD event in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County neighborhoods and groups are: Beechview Urban Gardener Group Yinzers, Bon Air, Brighton Heights Citizens Federation, Brookline (South Pittsburgh Development Corp.), Carrick Community Council, Chartiers, Community Alliance of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown, Duquesne University, East Allegheny, East Liberty Trash Warriors, East Pittsburgh Economic Development Corp., Fairfield Lane Assoc., Hilltop Alliance, Friends of the Riverfront, Garfield, Homewood, Lawrenceville United, Lower Hill, MLK Community Gardens, Morningside Area Community Council, Mount Oliver/St. Clair Block Watch, Mount Washington Neighbors on the Mount, Perry Hilltop, Polish Hill, Shadyside, Sheraden, South Side Flats Community Council, South Side Slopes, South Oakland Neighborhood Group, Spring Hill, Stanton Heights Neighborhood Assoc., 31st Ward Action Group (Hays, Lincoln Place, New Homestead), Troy Hill Citizens, West End Organizers, Windgap and Uptown.

Allegheny County neighborhood and group signups are: Collier, Dormont, Duquesne Trashbashers, East Pittsburgh, East McKeesport, Etna, Fox Chapel, Heidelberg, Hollow Oak Land Trust, Mt. Lebanon, Penn Hills' Crescent Hills Civic Assoc., North Versailles, Scott, Sharpsburg, South Park, West Homestead Volunteer Fire Dept., West View, Wilmerding and Verona in Progress Community Group.

Clean by example to cure common gripe

The column below was written by Diane Stafford, business writer and workplace columnist for the Kansas City Star. A version of the column appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Sunday, September 11. Permission was granted to Mr. Litterman to use it in the Citizen Against Litter Newslitter. But first.

Years earlier in his other life, Mr. Litterman remembers several corporate examples of "cleaning by example." There were CEO father and son Marriotts of hotel fame who would bend and pick up litter in their hotels, setting positive examples for their employees of "Cleanliness and Courtesy" as a culture. And there were the two senior owners of the world-famous Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio who would bend and pick up litter when they walked the midway, again setting an example for the hundreds of young employees to follow their ways to enhance the fun experience of park visitors.

Miss Stanford's column follows below:

A co-worker and I were grousing about dirty dishes left in the office sink, and this proverb came to mind: A courtyard common to all will be swept by none.

No philosophy degree is needed to understand that. Look at litter along the streets. Dog poop in the park. Paper towels on the restroom floor.

Not my problem. Not my job. I didn't put it there. Why doesn't somebody else take care of that?

It turns out that there's an economic theory called "the tragedy of the commons." Basically, it says that we act in our own self-interest, exploiting shared resources to our own ends.

Take one small step for mankind to see the theory in action, particularly in workplaces. No matter how many people use a shared space, the "tragedy" can appear when there isn't a precise duty - or constant regimen - for maintaining common areas.

It can happen wherever some co-workers consider themselves too busy or too high in the hierarchy to wash dishes or toss a towel they didn't drop.

It can happen when office morale is so bad that it's a handy nose thumb. And not to put too fine a point on it, it can happen because some people are self-centered slobs.

Do a web search for something like "co-workers who don't clean up" and you'll be stunned at how much you find. And most solutions conclude that "Your mother doesn't work here" or "Please clean up after yourself" signs taped to the microwave don't cure the problem.

Some people won't think it applies to them. Apparently, emails and even meetings don't fix the problem either. So here's a proposal:

Do the proverbial sweeping. Wash someone else's dishes. Pull the weed that's growing out of the sidewalk in front of the building. Retape the poster that fell to the floor.

Not fair, you say? No, but it may reap long-term benefits if and when others watch you doing it. With luck and maybe a dose of guilt, others may follow your lead and take a turn with the dish soap.

Or you can try this idea gleaned from internet comments: Post pictures of eyes in the problem areas. Sounds creepy. But the idea of being watched, even by paper eyes, apparently encourages people to behave better.

What if you've tried to model good-of-the-whole behavior and it didn't catch on?

Don't be a martyr. Decide which bothers you more - the mess or cleaning it up - and act in your own self-interest, whatever you determine it to be.

But note this: I've seen the power of example when I've interviewed CEOs or other top managers in their workplaces.

There's a detectable workplace culture when, on a walk down the hall, the big boss bends over and picks up a scrap of paper versus the one who walks over it or points it out to an assistant.

Connonquenessing Creek cleanup

The 5th Annual Connoquenessing Creek Cleanup was held on September 10. The report from the field is as follows:

Up to this year, we have removed over 200,000 pounds of garbage, including over 2,000 tires from just 30 miles of the 50 mile waterway! This year we were focused on a 12 mile stretch, starting in Harmony and ending in Fombell. This is the first year the cleanup was in Beaver County. Volunteers did a good thing for the environment and community while feeling good and meeting new friends! The cleanup celebration party was held on September 24 at the Center of Harmony.

Market Square conditions disappointing to some

A recent letter to the editor on Market Square cleanliness reminds Mr. Litterman of a similar letter from a couple who visited Pittsburgh a few years ago from Seattle. Back then, at first the Seattle couple was impressed with Pittsburgh. Then they spent time in Squirrel Hill and saw many streets filled with litter. Their opinion of Pittsburgh took a nose dive.

Street litter conditions are improving in our city. Redding up our littered streets helps make our city more attractive.

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Post-Gazette on September 13. It describes the letter writer's recent experience in Market Square. Downtown shouldn't have litter problems. The Downtown Partnership Clean Team removes about one million pounds of litter a year from downtown streets. Here is the letter. It brought other letters from readers who disagreed with the criticism.

"In August, we had the pleasure of showing house guests from Australia many marvelous sights in and around town. Our architect friend marveled at the magnificent Fort Pitt Tunnel entrance to the city, the numerous bridges over the three rivers, Pittsburgh's beautiful terrain and the varied architectural styles represented in 'our most livable city'.

"We attended a game at our great PNC Park, showing the couple the fantastic skyline across the Allegheny River. Following the game, we proudly led them on a walking tour of the North Shore, across the pedestrian bridge to Point State Park, ending up in Market Square. That's where our Pittsburgh pride came to a screeching halt.

"What should be a lovely outdoor spot for all (Market Square) was strewn with litter and inhabited by several boisterous groups. Most of the tables were taken. Despite 'No Smoking' placards embedded in the tables, people puffed away at half of the tables. We witnessed an obvious illicit (drug) deal transpiring right before us, as two police vans circled the square. Embarrassed, we endured these violations of city ordinances as we drank a quick beverage with our guests.

"After that visit, I can understand why (many) people are not eager to venture into town. I don't know how -- with deplorable conditions like this -- our city can attract residents to the costly Downtown condos that are becoming more and more available. Why can't something be done for the comfort and well-being of all of the people all of the time? Do we just clean up for national TV broadcasts and international conferences and summits?

"It doesn't seem that it would take too many dollars to rectify this situation, just some diligence on the part of the powers that be."

Susan DeLuca, Shadyside

PRC takes over state recycling hotline

Over the summer, PA Resources Council assumed operation of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Recycling Hotline.

Call 1-800-346-4242 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to learn about disposal options for electronics, tires, household chemicals, televisions and more. After-hour calls are returned the following business day.

"Zachary Bacon joined our Western Office staff in June to support the hotline. In his first few months he has demonstrated a true passion for educating the public and promoting environmental sustainability," said PRC Regional Director Justin Stockdale. "Zac answers every call with enthusiasm and is proud to provide callers with real-time solutions to their recycling challenges." Zac holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and has worked with a variety of local nonprofits. ### Report mailbox graffiti

Pittsburgh Postal Service 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, yet September's top litterer continues to be the distribution of the Post-Gazette Sunday Extra free advertising circular.

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.

Redd Up for Shadyside house tour

Company's coming to Shadyside on Sunday, October 16. They'll be coming by the thousands (we hope) for the 37th year of the popular Shadyside House Tour. So please Redd Up around your house...so our visitors won't talk about us.

Next to last word

From "This Week in Litterland" newsletter of September 18: "Buford (Florida) high school students staged a litter-free football game. They handed out litter bags to spectators for their use in the stands."

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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