Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Litter : This week is Keep Australia Beautiful Week and Friday is "Butt Free Friday"

I am always amazed when I visit other places to see how much cleaner they tend to be (well, not Germantown in Philadelphia, or early morning before trash pickup in commercial districts in New York City) than Washington, DC.

That definitely includes the area's suburbs, although arterials definitely have more trash. I always notice how suburban residential streets have almost no litter, but then that is the case in other cities like Seattle or Salt Lake City too (except around bus stops).

DC streets, including residential streets, tend to have a lot of litter, although a lot is relative.  But what astounds me is that people don't even pick up litter that is in front of their houses.

I do pick up litter, a lot on an every day basis, on my street and between the Takoma Metro and home (especially along the perimeter of the Takoma Recreation Center).

Litter pickup as a civic engagement opportunity.  When I was involved in H Street Main Street, we did a litter cleanup once/month.  At first I was skeptical, because the trash just regenerates.

But as I wrote about here, "Every litter bit hurts," it was important for organizational visibility and community building.  (The title of the entry was a take off of an anti-litter advertising campaign from the early 1970s.)

Keep Australia Beautiful anti-litter organization.  In working on the issue back then, I came across the litter survey (starting on page 164 of the most recent National Litter Index report) by Keep Australia Beautiful, which seemed to be the most thorough.

One of the ways KAB tracks litter is through regular surveying and publication of an annual litter survey and review study, called the National Litter Index.  They have also tracked litter by "brand," although I imagine that was controversial since they haven't repeated that study for awhile.

This week is Keep Australia Beautiful Week and this year they are focusing on reducing cigarette butt litter, designating this Friday as "Butt Free Friday."

Lately, I have to say that cigarette butt litter has been bugging me too, although fortunately with the reduction in smoking/tobacco consumption there is a reduction in discarded cigarette butts.

Litter and ward-based community building, civic engagement and neighborhood metrics

In the platform outline I created when I was considering running for City Council, one of the metrics I was interested in creating on a ward--wide basis was on litter, using the Australia survey, a Ward 4 Litter Index so to speak.

And one of the community building efforts would have been a ward-wide annual cleanup day as well as organizing separate regularly held events in neighborhoods and in commercial districts.

-- Run a Neighborhood Litter Count webpage, Keep Australia Beautiful
-- Simplified Litter Survey Form, Keep Australia Beautiful

Other litter reduction strategies.  DC has passed a 5 cent bag tax levied on certain transactions and it has made a big difference in terms of discarded plastic bags as part of the litter stream.  But it's just one gesture.  A container deposit law would be the best, as well as general campaigning on litter issues more generally.

See "Recycling, waste streams, plastic bags, and bottle bills."

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At 12:55 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

Half the city is too lazy to put things in a bin, half too entitled to pick it up.


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