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Citizens Against Litter

Pitch In: Garfield residents lend hands to Curb litter problems

Note: The following Op-Ed appeared in the March issue of The Bulletin (a community newspaper serving Bloomfield, Friendship, Garfield, East Liberty, Lawrenceville, and Stanton Heights).

Anyone who walks around Garfield after a big snowstorm might think they have accidently wandered into the country. Everything is so bright, clean and natural. The streets resemble long fields and the empty lots look like thick woods. If you hike up to the hilltop by the water tower, the downtown skyscrapers seem like a distant metropolis. But, once the snow starts melting, you wil lsee the truth. You will see cigarette butts, junk food wrappers, empty bottles, crushed cans and other trash sprinkled all over the streets and piling up in yards. What an ugly reminder that you are still in the middle of a city.

Like a bright dab of mustard staining a starched shirt, even the smallest amount of trash on the ground keeps the neighborhood from looking its best. The wind blows everything around so that all the debritus accumulates on the empty lots and public spaces.

Unfortunately, the city will not provide additional waste receptacles in many neighborhoods because the increased collection cost would be too expensive to sustain. In light of these obstacles, the Garfield Community Action Team (GCAT) has created "Pitch In."

The idea is to place trachcans at "litter hotstops" throughout Garfield and recruit residents to assume the responsibility for,maintaining them. Each participating resident will receive a large trashcan, a year's supply of garbage bags and a cable lock to keep anyone from stealing the can.

If you join the program, you are agreeing to make sure the receptacle remains on your property while it functions for public use. You must also promise to regularly empty the can and take the full bags to your own designated trash area for curbside pick-up. Because this system will rely on already-existing collection routes and because each can only creates an extra few bags to pick-up, the city is on board.

Local artists will decorate each trashcan in snazzy, customized patterns as part of a continuing effort to keep the neighborhood looking clean and stylish. So far, seventeen residents have agreed to adopt a can: organizers hope that when neighbors notice what a difference these colorful receptacles can make on their block, they will want to lend a hand to Pitch In.

GCAT is planning a kick-off event for the project in the near future. Anyone interested in Pitch In can learn more at

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